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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Supreme Court Rejects Texas and Trump's Bid to Overturn Election; Supreme Court Denies GOP Effort To Block Election Results In 4 Key States That Sealed Trump's Fate; Supreme Court Rejects Texas' And Trump's Bid To Overturn Election; Sources: WH Orders FDA Chief To Authorize Pfizer Vaccine Today Or Resign; FDA Authorization Of Pfizer Vaccine To Come At Any Time; Keith Sugden 1932-2020. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 11, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, thanks for joining us. The outgoing President of the United States called on the Supreme Court to show courage, but he was actually begging it for help overturning the will of voters by overturning the election that he so clearly lost.
Well, late today, he got his answer from the Supreme Court. No. The court rejecting an ill-conceived lawsuit by the State of Texas and stunningly joined by 126 House Republicans to overturn all the votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Here's the ruling, "The State of Texas's motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which America and other state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot."
Now, Justice Alito with Justice Thomas joining added this quote, "In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction. I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief when I express no view on any other issue."
And so, ends the last major legal challenge to the President's election defeat, a defeat, which is by his own calculation of his victory in 2016, a landslide loss.
It came despite a rebuttal from Texas to critiques of the case, which made no more sense than their original filing. And though so much of this played out more as a farce than as fact, or even plausible legal argument. What is so serious is that nearly two thirds the Republican House delegation, including 75 percent of the leadership signed on to this assault on democracy, a premeditated assault as the President self-signaled weeks before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it's very important that we have nine justices. I think it's better if you go before the election, because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam. The scam will be before the United States Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And it won't. He wanted the court his court with his justices to settle this and it did just not in his favor. The three justices that he named to the court did not dissent from tonight's decision and whether they saw it or not, their decision came shortly after the President tweeted, quote, "If the Supreme Court shows great wisdom and courage, the American people will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our electoral process will be respected again."
Again, no clue what if anything, the justices made of that and all the rest of his tweets at them nor what they made of this other than not wanting to hear more on the subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For President Trump to be ahead as far as he was at 3:00 a.m. in these four states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia, and for the vote to swing by as much as it did, the probability of that in one state is one in one quadrillion. That's one comma 15 zeros. To happen in all four, it is one comma 15 zeros to the fourth power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, making that up. It doesn't make sense. Minority Republican lawmakers dissented from that kind of nonsense, including Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a former judge who said he did not see the theory of the case and Senator Mitt Romney, who called it madness.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who was the only one of four House leaders not to sign on to the friends of the court brief, 126 of her fellow Republicans did. A spokesman for President-elect Biden said the court's decision was no surprise adding, quote, "Dozens of judges and election officials from both parties and Trump's own Attorney General have dismissed his baseless attempt to deny that he lost the election."
Lots to talk about starting with CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip, also CNN contributor and Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.
John, does the ruling mean that President Trump's efforts through the courts to overturn the election are completely over?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would think so, while there are a couple lower court cases, it's not likely they could ever get up to the Supreme Court again. So, I think this is the last of the court cases.
COOPER: Abby, as we pointed out earlier, Trump said before the election that he thought it would end up in the Supreme Court, that he thought it was important to have nine justices seated. It was one of the justifications, of course, for rushing the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation through. What happens now?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he doesn't get his wish. I mean, I think that as John just said, it's pretty much over. And, you know, even if some of these lower court cases may somehow make their way to higher courts, the problem for the President is that he has lost so many states, he is behind by so many electoral votes that no one state is going to reverse what we are seeing here, and what the entire country frankly, we'll see on Monday when the Electoral College meets.
So this is over. The President doesn't even get to have the Supreme Court weigh in on this because the court knows that this kind of requests to basically have the court weigh in, throw out millions of votes is completely unprecedented and would really throw the country into incredible turmoil, not to mention the fact that there's virtually no legal basis for the claims that were being made in the suit.
COOPER: And Abby, for a President who, you know, hates -- whose criticism -- greatest criticism or, you know, what he thinks is the most cutting criticism of all is calling someone a loser. For him to be a one-term President, to have been a loser in this last election has got to be just devastating.
And by his own estimation, you know, he claimed his victory in 2016 was a landslide victory. Well, if you believe that then you have to believe that this was a landslide loss.
PHILLIP: Well, it is so devastating, Anderson, that he is basically creating a fairy tale universe for himself and his supporters to live in, in which he didn't lose. That's why all of this is happening, because the president can't fathom in his mind that he might have lost something.
So this entire episode is about convincing himself, convincing his supporters that he hasn't lost and he's going to continue for the foreseeable future, always claiming as he did recently at a holiday party, that he has won the presidency twice when he knows that he did not.
COOPER: John, there's no -- I mean, I said this the other night, he's going to be talking about this every day for the rest of his life. And when he goes to every night at Mar-a-Lago, when he's wandering around the tables, acting as sort of emcee, he's going to be talking about being robbed when he goes to, you know, get his teeth cleaned every six months, you know, he's going to be talking to the dental hygienist about being robbed.
I mean, this is something Ivanka Trump is going to hear every dinner they ever have together for the rest of their lives.
DEAN: I think you're absolutely right, Anderson. It's something he can't seem to accept. I don't think he is going to send Christmas party invitations to the court this year to have them come down. You know, we know we're dealing with a narcissist, we're dealing with
a man who has shown throughout that he can't take any kind of negative attention or defeat or anything without constantly doubling down.
I wouldn't be totally surprised if he still tries to pull something off when the Electoral College is selected and gets to counting the votes in the Congress. There are some things you can do there. They're highly irregular, but he likes highly irregular.
COOPER: John, the court did not provide a vote count and there was not a formal dissent. Justices Alito and Thomas did add that statement saying they believe the court did have jurisdiction to hear the case. But wouldn't grant any other relief. Can you just explain what they are saying there?
DEAN: Well, this is very -- this is not unusual in particularly in a case like this where there is original jurisdiction, they were staking out those two justices, that that that was firmly their belief that they should have taken the case, even if they didn't rule favorably on it.
Probably the most disappointing thing, Anderson, is about that brief per curiam is we're at a very dangerous time in our democracy. I think the court could have spent a little of its reputational capital and issued a very brief per curiam opinion, may be five pages, and said that what the President is saying is not true. There's no great injustice in this election process. They've looked at it and everything is going as it should go.
And there is highly polarized, so that would have been some comfort to the millions of people who are worried about this process that Trump has managed to get upset. So I am disappointed they didn't issue a per curiam opinion.
COOPER: John and Abby, stand by for a moment. I want to bring in Dana Nessel, Attorney General from Michigan, one of the four states again vindicated tonight. Madam Attorney General, what is your reaction to the court's announcement?
DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I'm relieved that they did the right thing. Obviously, I'm happy that the 5.5 million people who voted in my state won't have their votes disenfranchised, and that the 10 million people who live in my state will be properly represented with the Electoral College.
But the fact that we even find ourselves in this place where we have to be relieved that something ridiculous didn't occur that should never have occurred, you know, is it a sad chapter in American history that we really need to put behind us.
COOPER: And that's somebody in the Republican leadership have gone along with this is -- it just -- it is, it is insane. Do you believe the President's legal options now are truly exhausted, at least in courts? I mean, obviously, what happens when Congress gathers to count the electoral votes on January 6th, as John pointed out, could be another story. NESSEL: Honestly, I make no predictions about that, because what we
just saw happen with the State of Texas having filed this case, this ludicrous, ridiculous case against my state and three others, that's something I never would have predicted.
So it's hard for me to say, well you know we're done now. We have rounded the corner and absolutely we won't see any more shenanigans because that has continued to occur. But what I will say is this, we will continue to fight as vigorously as possible to ensure that the person who actually won the presidential election is sworn into office on January 20. And that's what we all should care about and that's what everyone should want to happen.
COOPER: What do you make of Justices Alito and Thomas saying that they did not believe the court had, quote, "discretion to deny the filing"?
NESSEL: Well, I think that we're very clear about the fact that they make no mention of how they would have rule on the merits. This is really a matter of whether or not there was standing. And of course, we had claimed all along that, of course, there was no injury to the State of Texas done by the State of Michigan or any of the other three states.
And that, of course, the Supreme Court is supposed to be used as an appellate court. It is not a court generally of original jurisdiction, and that is to be invoked very sparingly.
You know, so I can't tell you what happened behind closed doors. But obviously, I'm relieved that the right thing occurred. But I will say this, for all of those who supported this frivolous, nonsensical action and who supported a demagogue over democracy, I think that some of those individuals will forever have their legacies tarnished with really the stain of Donald Trump and his clown makeup or what have you.
I mean, it's really embarrassing for the country and when we ask ourselves how it is that other longstanding democracies turn into autocracies, now we know.
COOPER: Are you encouraged that the justices whom the President appointed to the court did not go along with him on this? Because I mean, you heard him before the election express optimism that potential litigation would go his way.
NESSEL: Yes, am I encouraged that they didn't completely compromise their integrity for a man who has none? Yes, of course, the courts are always the place that we go to, to ensure that our other institutions are maintained.
And in this case, they held up, but you know, how many more challenges they could have taken, how many more hits they could have withstood in the event that Trump spent any more time in the White House? I think it's hard to say.
I think when history looks back upon this era in American history, you know, we'll see how close we really came to losing our democracy.
COOPER: Shortly before the court's decision was released, the Trump Campaign announced it would be running more cable TV ads tomorrow about all of this. Is that just noise to you at this point?
NESSEL: You know, it's not just noise only for the reason that unfortunately, it erodes people's confidence in our system of elections, and it really decimates our democratic system of government.
So I think it does great damage to all of us as Americans, so I still take it seriously for that reason. Do I think it's going to change the election? No, not at all. But it may change future elections.
It really, you know, for America, which once stood as a pillar of democracy around the globe, I don't know that many other countries will look upon us the same now as they ever did previous to this.
COOPER: Madam Attorney General, if you will, I just want to bring John Dean and Abby Phillip back into the conversation. John, the Michigan Attorney General is clearly happy, you know, this went there this way. Obviously, anybody would be from Michigan.
Do you think at this point, she and the other three Attorney Generals that were targeted by this case can exhale and have confidence their citizens vote will be counted?
DEAN: I think they can. And she filed an excellent brief as the other states did and they were all business and right to the issue. I don't think after reading those briefs, the court could have reached any other conclusion they reached today.
This was the right decision and the court appeals are over for all practical purposes.
COOPER: Abby, how do you think the Attorney General's reaction along with other States Attorneys General will be received by President Trump and other Republicans?
PHILLIP: Well, it will be interesting to see what President Trump says tonight because he is supposed to be at one of the many holiday parties he's been hosting at the White House. And this is where recently he has been making a lot of comments about how he wants four more years and how the Supreme Court needs more courage and wisdom in order to give him this election.
This is a pretty definitive blow for him, but I don't expect that he is going to stop this quest. I mean, you just pointed out Anderson, they've launched new ads on national cable TV, so we should take that with a grain of salt that could just be for an audience of one on FOX News.
But the point is, the President is not going to stop in his attempt to effectively radicalize Republicans across the country.
We're seeing it in a statement from the Texas G.O.P. tonight, in which they said that perhaps states should band together and perhaps and imply that they would secede from the union after this Supreme Court ruling.
You saw it in Arizona, where they asked -- the Arizona G.O.P. asked on Twitter, whether people would be willing to risk their lives for this cause. The President is not going to stop doing those things. So I think that we should expect more of the same from him.
COOPER: And Madam Attorney General, you know, you talked about the threat to democracy and how history will look back at this and see how, you know, close that, or how much democracy was in danger?
Do you feel like the danger is over? Because certainly, I mean, to Abby's point, the President continues to sow dissension and by, you know, all signs indicate for the next four years, at least, he is going to continue to try to do that, whether or not he runs again, whether or not he's just using that to raise money from, you know, foreign actors overseas to help him take care of all his debts and his legal troubles.
But he is going to be a force, if not the preeminent force in the Republican Party from, you know, for the foreseeable future.
NESSEL: Yes, and I think that's true. And certainly I think that when it comes to primaries, who the biggest Trump supporter is, will still play a large role when it comes to our conventions, where we have people, you know, nominated for positions like mine, like Attorney General and Secretary of State and the Michigan Supreme Court.
If you're not a Trump supporter, I don't think you're going to have a chance in 2022. But the other thing it means is this, the threats against public officials, like myself will continue.
So whether it's plots to kidnap and execute our governor, or those who stand outside the house of our Secretary of State and threaten her, or whether it's our slate of electors, who are, you know, going to be voting on Monday and who now need police protection for what used to be just a very mundane administrative event that no one ever paid attention to or even knew about.
It's a dangerous time in our state, and it's a dangerous time in our country, and we can attribute all of that to one man and that's Donald Trump.
COOPER: Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, I appreciate it. Abby Phillip and John Dean, as well. Thank you so much.
Coming up next, reaction from the White House of the Supreme Court's denial of the President's last major legal hope.
And later, with so much riding on people taking the new COVID vaccine, with trust such a big part of it, we will talk Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the effect of the reported White House pressure on the F.D.A. Commissioner to approve it today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Tonight, Supreme Court defeat came as no surprise to legal experts and should have come as no surprise to Vice President Pence who is a lawyer, likely knows a weak case when he sees one. And as a former governor, he likely understands that the Supreme Court generally doesn't let one state tell another state how to run its elections.
Neither of those credentials applied though on entering the Vice President's office, especially for this President. So here he was talking about the case just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Donald Trump deserves his day in court, the Supreme Court, and all I can say is God bless Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then came the ruling. The question which we raised before the break is what his boss intends to do next. CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us now with more on that. So any response yet from the President or his team?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, right now, the White House is referring us to the Trump campaign and we know that Rudy Giuliani right now is talking to one of the other conservative outlets favored by the president, not FOX News, and at this point, he is saying, quote, "We're not finished yet." According to some of the reported remarks coming from the former mayor of New York City.
I will tell you, Anderson talking to a Trump adviser earlier this evening, when I asked this adviser, you know, is this when the President gives it up and finally concedes and moves on with his life? This adviser said, quote, "No way."
And earlier today, the same adviser was saying that nobody inside -- just about nobody inside the President's team of advisers thought that this was going to turn out any other way. They just did not think the Supreme Court would do this.
And now, we see what the President wants to do next. We know obviously, he is not going to give it up. But he's running out of options, obviously, very quickly, you know, the far right like to refer to these legal challenges as the Kraken, but the Kraken has croaked.
COOPER: But I mean, the President may be out of options, but he is not out of the opportunity to raise more money, which seems to be at the heart of a lot of this. I mean, as long as he pretends that there's still an effort underway, as long as he's got Rudy Giuliani and whatever other, you know, alleged attorneys are willing to, you know, demean themselves. He can continue raising money and will continue raising money from people who actually believe what the President is saying.
ACOSTA: That's right. There is a shortage, apparently, of Trump friendly lawyers who will be-clown themselves in this fashion. We've seen this for four years now. And I suppose we'll continue to do so for another couple of months.
The Electoral College will meet on Monday. They will make Joe Biden the President-elect officially, and of course will be sworn in on January 20th. One other date to circle on the calendar, Anderson, going to your question of fundraising is January 6th. That is when we expect House Republicans to try to make something of the stink on the House floor. They can't really do anything without the majority in the House, and so that's not going to go anywhere.
But between now and then, there is a window of fundraising opportunity for the President to continue this disinformation for dollars campaign -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks. Perspective now from two CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina Democratic state lawmaker and author of bestselling book "My Vanishing Country."
Scott, is this Supreme Court ruling enough for Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy and the rest of Republican Party to acknowledge reality or you know, are there other motives here going on that is going to just continue to have them go forward on the Trump train?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's obvious what's happening and it will become more obvious on Monday when the Electoral College meets.
I do think the Republican leadership though needs President Trump to remain engaged because there are things left to do. Obviously, they're trying to fund the government and maybe pass a Coronavirus Relief Bill, they've got campaigning to do in Georgia, which the President is already engaged in helpfully.
So there's work left to do, even as the President prepares to leave office, and the Republican leaders know that and they want to work with him on that. And so they need to keep him focused on those things that would help the larger effort.
But I don't think anyone is under any illusion that anything crazy is going to happen here. Obviously, Joe Biden's going to be the next president, and everybody is pretty much dealing with that reality.
COOPER: Bakari, the fealty though of Republican leaders that Scott was talking about, I mean, it's going to last much longer than even after President Trump leaves office. The race in Georgia might end, but you know, all these folks want, you know, his support for their own races. They want his support for Republican causes. They want his followers and are afraid of him getting his followers to turn on them.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's fear, it's cowardice. I mean, that's exactly what it is. That is what we're talking about.
The fact that, I mean, I understand exactly what Scott is saying. I mean, you still have until January 20th at noon, to actually get things done. And the President of the United States working with a Republican cohort needs to be able to get those things done, I get it.
But that doesn't explain away the fact that they don't have the fortitude to tell this President that he is not President anymore. I mean, you have grown men in the State of Texas, men and women who signed on to an amicus brief, saying that the President of the United States needs to overthrow the election results. That's not democracy.
Mitch McConnell's whispers aren't democracy. I mean, Lindsey Graham, not saying anything, saying that we got to figure out what happened with Dominion Systems in Georgia is not democracy.
I mean, the fact is, you have people who won elections, Anderson. They won elections, and now they're saying the election was rigged? I mean, the fact of the matter is that this President has a unique grasp on the Republican Party.
It's a grasp that he is going to hold on to for a very long period of time and the cowardice is not something that -- it is not something we can look away from, because they are not standing on the side of democracy.
No one is saying that Mitch McConnell or any of the 106 or 107 members of the Texas State legislature should support Joe Biden, no one is saying that. We're only saying that you should actually acknowledge that democracy is a fundamental tenet of this country that we live in, that we love and that we adore and no one is willing to do that and that's the shame.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Scott, you did say a second ago, you think everyone is dealing with the reality Vice President Biden is going to be the next President. But I just want to read to you what former Florida Congressman Allen West, who is now Chairman of the Texas G.O.P. said tonight.
He said, quote, "Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the Constitution," end quote. Obviously, one can dismiss him as you know, somebody who only served in Congress a brief time as a far right fringe figure, except he is the chair of the state party, and it's a pretty important state and he is apparently advocating for secession.
I mean, shouldn't all Republicans condemn that? I mean, you'd freak out if that was a Democrat. You know, if Hillary Clinton was calling for a secession.
JENNINGS: And I'll start -- I'll be glad to start. It's a crackpot statement. I mean, it's a ridiculous statement. And I don't know any Republican leader who is currently holding office that feels that way. Look, some of the people who support President Trump have engaged in
magical thinking because of what happened on Election Night, 2016. You know, he appeared to have pulled a rabbit out of a hat. He wasn't supposed to win. Nobody thought he was going to win. And voila, he made something happen out of thin air.
And a lot of those same people had that confidence about this election, it didn't happen on Election Night. But they've maintained that kind of thinking, as we've moved down this legal process. And I think the Trump folks, and some of his lawyers have made promises to them about, you know, and put out this amazing bravado and confidence in these legal challenges when it really wasn't warranted and they've made all these people believe that we're just right around the corner, something's going to happen.
Old Trump will find a way to pull it out, and that just never was going to be and so you're going to see people react this way, which is nuts. And yes, people should condemn it because we're not going to secede.
American institutions work, and by the way, we'll have another election in two years and another election in four years, and Trump may be a factor in both of them. So American democracy and institutions march on and you know, you live to fight another day.
COOPER: Yes. Bakari, I mean, just on a logic that, you know, I don't hear any Republican members of Congress who won reelection this time around, claiming, well, because this election was so rigged, I shouldn't have won re election. And I think we should ever recount in my own vote. I mean, ever, they all seem very perfectly happy with how votes were counted when they won for their congressional districts, or as, you know, as to become a senator, it just, I don't understand.
You know, I understand Scott saying that, you know, they want -- the folks on Capitol Hill want the President to be engaged on, you know, important efforts on the raising of Georgia probably most prominently. But the idea that they're afraid, and part of that is they want him involved, but they also don't want him to tank the race in Georgia, they end they know, he is fully capable of just taking his followers and, you know, condemning the leadership and blowing off the candidates in Georgia and, you know, taking the party elsewhere.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not just Georgia, though, I'm hard pressed to believe that these individuals just want to win in Georgia, they want to win their own races. And this is Donald Trump's party. I mean, that's -- this is the fact this is where we are. I mean, I challenge all my Republican colleagues.
I mean, the fact is that Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich and many others wanted Barack Hussein Obama to be a one term president in 2008. That was the goal they set forth. It was an anti-Democratic, it was an anti-patriotic goal. But nevertheless, that was the goal. They wanted him to be a one term president. Barack Obama, he persevered. He did everything he could, he ended up being president for eight years. He was never ever, ever trying to chip away at the fundamental tenants of this country. And to watch these individuals who wanted Barack Hussein Obama simply because he looked different, simply because he came from a different background, simply because he was different, because they wanted him to be a one term president. But yet and still, they won't say anything negative about this man who lost a race.
I lost my last race. In 2014, Henry McMaster beat me he beat me fair and square. I'm not sitting here saying that Henry McMaster is not the fair and rightful governor of South Carolina, because of some crackpot theory. I mean, we have to understand the fundamental tenants of democracy and in the tragedy is not Donald Trump, we know who he is. The tragedy are these good individuals who still stand by him. The Cornyns, the Grahams, the McConnells, the Tim Scotts, all of these individuals who whisper and murmur, but they are afraid to say it with their chest to quote Kevin Hart. You got to say what your chest sometimes what you really mean. And that is that Joe Biden is the President of the United States, is the tragedy they won't say it.
COOPER: Bakari Sellers, Scott Jennings, I appreciate it.
(voice-over): Coming up. I'm going to talk with one of the few Republicans in Congress who, even before tonight's landmark decision called the whole thing quote, ludicrous.
And later as virus hospitalizations hit another new record high, the White House puts pressure on the FDA chief to authorize the Pfizer vaccine today or resign. Talk about that with Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead.
COOPER: Repeating our breaking news tonight the Supreme Court flatly rejected the lawsuit brought by the Texas Attorney General that sought to invalidate millions of votes in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. Even though 126 Republicans in the House supported the Texas lawsuit, a handful, handful of Republicans did not. Here's a sampling of what the GOP dissenters had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): This election was incredibly secure. And I think we have to get out of this, looking at these bizarre type of articles coming out on the net and the conspiracy theories associated with them. And it's really ludicrous.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): To insinuate that Republican and Democratic candidates paid to throw off this election. I think it's absolutely outrageous. And I do take offense to that that.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Fraudulence is minimum. And it's not enough to change the outcome of the election to overturn enough large numbers to change the final results.
RIGGLEMAN: Also, mind blowingly ridiculous to think that all of these agencies would work in tandem. Somehow across 50 states think about that 50 states.
ERNST: To have that accusation just offhandedly thrown out there just to confuse our voters across the United States. I think that is absolutely wrong.
KINZINGER: You may not like the outcome of the election. But that doesn't mean that our 2020 election was fake. It was real, it counts. And we need to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: One of those voices you heard is outgoing Republican congressman Denver Riggleman. He joins me now. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. What was your reaction when you heard the Supreme Court tossed the suit today?
RIGGLEMAN: Not surprised. You know, Anderson, we got the email asking us to sign on to the amicus brief. And the two things that I saw in there, number one was the I don't know if it was a veiled threat, that there's going to be a list of those who did not sign up for the amicus brief, brief, but it was also written in that email that there are these sort of these broad strokes that there was fraud across the United States.
And so, when I saw this, I look at percentages, you know, my backgrounds in intelligence officer when I saw that the legal team for Trump had a one in 56 record, which is what 1.7, 1.8% and that was really the baseline for the Texas AG suit. I thought this isn't going anywhere. And really it is based on this information. And I don't really have a great analogy, Anderson for a record that bag. The only thing I could think of, you know, looking back in history was maybe the Washington generals getting beat by the Harlem Globetrotters. I mean, you know, I just, you know, I just, I just -- I don't. And, you know, when you look at it based on the percentages and with my background, I thought this didn't have a chance in hell and I think we were correct on that.
COOPER: You know the thing about this I mean, just the politics aside, the thing that really just makes me sad, genuinely sad is, you know, I get direct messages on Instagram from people all the time, who are Trump supporters and look like good, very decent people with families who love their country and, you know, in all respects, are rational and, and yet, they seem to have bought into what the President has repeatedly said, without any evidence that has now been tossed out of dozens of courts and lawsuits. I mean, how do you -- how do we move forward as a country with, you know, the country divided with one group of people only seeing things a certain way, and everybody's, you know, probably guilty of that in on different issues. But on this, it seems so fundamental of something that is true and not true. RIGGLEMAN: Digital viruses need vaccines too. And I think the only way you do that is through big data. You do that to facts based analysis, you do that through machine learning, you get through some of the data techniques that I've been doing for two decades. And you have to put it out there. But there's also another thing and Anderson, this is the one thing that I worry about, I think you're going to see an explosion of activity after the Supreme Court ruling, not a diminution of it. And the reason is, is because people are sort of they've lost their footing in their moorings based on the misinformation has been poured into them. I mean, they have had a disinformation firehose for multiple social network angles. And you're talking about not just Twitter and Facebook, as you know, but there's BitChute, right? There's YouTube, there's Rumble, there's Gab, there's Parler. So that people can radicalize anywhere.
So, I think you're actually going to see a slight uptick in awful language and just information. But we have to reach out to these people with love, not with hate. We got to do this in a magnanimous way where we bring people into a fact based world.
COOPER: What do you think happens on Monday, once the Electoral College votes and formally recognizes Joe Biden as the next president of United States? What do you think your Republican colleagues do then?
RIGGLEMAN: I think they're going to wait.
RIGGLEMAN: I mean, I -- and I'm not -- I want to give you a better answer than that.
RIGGLEMAN: But I think they're going to wait because they still have elections in 22 and 24. There's a massive war chest that's really been filled to the top, using disinformation tactics, it's been a grift. And that's what I've been warning people about. I'm not trying to do it in a mean way. But a grift is a grift. And people are making a lot of money I'll push in this nonsense and that's something that we have to get in front of.
I've been -- again, Anderson. I've been doing this for so long and to and to see this kind of ridiculousness and how it's affecting people. I mean, I don't know if you've looked online tonight. There's not this big glowing. Life is great now, there's -- it's actually China's fault. And by the way, now you're going to see the anti Vax conspiracy theories explode over the next three to four weeks. This hasn't ended.
COOPER: Yes. Congressman Riggleman, I really appreciate your time and your comments. Thank you.
RIGGLEMAN: Anderson. Appreciate, sir. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Take care. You heard me mentioned that 126 Republican members of the House stood firmly behind that now failed lawsuit, including GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.
Now in the face of the High Court decision tonight, it's even harder to see the actions of those Republicans and Congress's anything other than pure politics, trying to stay on the good side of a potentially vindictive president that they hope will be of use to them down the road and continue to raise money on this fraudulent notion of this conspiracy theory of rigged elections.
As we noted the top the program, spokesman for President-elect Biden said the decision was no surprise and added this. President-elect Biden's clear and commanding victory will be ratified by the Electoral College on Monday, and he'll be sworn in on January 20th.
Perspective now from Valerie Jarrett, a former senior aide to President Obama and author of Finding My Voice.
Ms. Jarrett, what is your reaction to Supreme Court's decision tonight?
VALERIE JARRETT, FMR SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRES. OBAMA: Well, it was resoundingly clear. It completely rejected the argument coming from Texas is unconstitutional. They didn't have any standing whatsoever. But it did do damage because as you were just discussing earlier, there are a lot of people in America who now question the integrity of our election, even though state officials election officials from both parties, even though the Attorney General for the United States, even though the former head of security for infrastructure, and cybersecurity in the Trump administration. And now, even though the Supreme Court ruled that there is no legitimacy to any of this nonsense, people still question it. And that's because of the tone it came from the top.
One silver lining that I hope that the folks who support, President Trump recognizes that all three of the justices that President Trump have nominated to the court ruled against this Texas decision. And so, hopefully that pulls the rug out of this conspiracy theory because those are the votes he put on the court. He fought hard to get them, all in the court and in fact, with his last nominee, he probably barely said it was because he was concerned about the election and he wanted to make sure that his representative was on the court.
Well, you know what, they're not his representative. They represent America and they represent our democracy. And I'm so glad to see that at least one unit at the federal branch of government is functioning in a healthy way.
COOPER: It's clear though, there was no legal standing for the lawsuit. One hundred though, and 26 Republican members of Congress still signed on to it. Number of them attorneys, including, you know, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that clearly as the last, you know, we just talked to two Congressmen Riggleman, Republican who's called this ludicrous and said that there's a grift going on. And there certainly is, I mean, the President is raising money off this GOP, the Republican, the RNC is getting money off the grift. Did you ever think the Republican Party would go that far?
Man, I hate to make this about a Republican Party or Democratic Party. But I mean, this is -- it is a grift going on, and Americans are giving huge amounts of money. And the President is playing them for suckers.
JARRETT: It's certainly a grift, but this has been going on for a long time. And you remember when President Obama was elected, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate said his number one objective was to make sure President Obama didn't get reelected to a second term. We were in the middle of an economic crisis. We had two boards (ph) before us going on. He had many challenges. And again, here now, in the face of a clear and resounding win by President-elect Biden, Republicans who knows better are playing politics. And as you said, they're playing politics for money. And who loses out, we the American people. It is an erosion of the fundamental pillars of our democracy. And it's going to have consequences that are not put for America.
At a time when our nation Anderson should be feeling where the Republicans should be doing what we've always prided ourselves with a smooth transition of power is rallying behind President-elect Biden. Do you think it was easy for Secretary Clinton to sit there and acknowledge her loss or to sit there and attend the inauguration? Of course not. Or George H.W. Bush or for anyone who loses an election, but that's what you do if you love our country you put country first.
COOPER: Just last, President-elect Biden continues to roll out his cabinet picks he's facing pushback from some quarters over his choice to nominate retired General Lloyd Austin, his defense secretary, General Austin would be the first black defense secretary. But not only does he need to get through confirmation, he needs a waiver from both houses of Congress, because he retired from active duty less than seven years ago. Are you worried the Biden team might have underestimated the resistance to his choice?
JARRETT: Well, first of all, I know what very well, he is an extraordinary public servant. A long career of service has been out of the military for four years. He has a keen appreciation for the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make every day for us that so many of us take for granted. And so, he is competent, he is experienced. He will put all of his intellect and his heart into this job, he will do a terrific job. And being the Biden administration is just beginning to reach out to the members on the Hill. I know that Lloyd Austin will make himself available. He will answer questions for both sides of the aisle. He has a lot of credibility up on the hill. And I am confident that as they get to hear why he believes that he is the right man for this job, as they look at his record, that he will get both the waiver and he'll get confirmed. This is a time for serious people with a track record of experience. And I can't think of a better person to be our defense secretary right now General Austin.
COOPER: Valerie Jarrett, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.
JARRETT: Thank you Anderson, good night. COOPER: More breaking news ahead on this busy Friday night. As the country reaches another record of people hospitalized with the coronavirus here with pressure the White House Chief of Staff put on the head of the FDA to get a quick approval for the Pfizer vaccine that when we continue.
COOPER: Our breaking news now on the pandemic. Numbers released tonight show the record number of Americans were hospitalized today with the virus 108,044 people, that's about 800 more than yesterday's record number. Meanwhile, a source familiar with the situation tell CNN the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, he needed to grant an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine by the end of tonight or else he needed to resign. The FDA chief says that's an untrue representation.
CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins me now. So, what do we know about pressure being placed on the FDA by the White House?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that Mark Meadows called Dr. Stephen Hahn this morning, he was complaining that they had not granted that emergency use for Pfizer's vaccine yet even though they applied for it several days ago. And he basically ended the conversation by saying that if this is not approved by the end of the day, not authorized by the end of the day, then you need to be prepared to resign from your job.
And the White House has kind of been backing off of that since this was publicly reported in the White House. Or you saw the FDA saying it was a mischaracterization of their conversation. They're not denying Anderson that Mark Meadows did say that to the FDA Commissioner on this day as they're getting so close to this authorization. But they're basically saying that they don't actually think that Dr. Hahn is going to be fired over this. Though we should note this phone call came after several meetings where the two staff called Dr. Hahn into his office here at the White House because that is the direct result of the President venting about the fact that these authorizations have not happened yet.
COOPER: The process for the Pfizer vaccine is basically at the finish line with emergency use authorization like this weekend. What does the White House get from doing this at this point?
COLLINS: That's the question. Now, I've even heard that from several White House officials. Now the story has come out and I just ran into the HHS Secretary on my way to the camera for this live shot. And we were talking about the authorization and of course that the thinking is it could come at any minute now. That's how the White House is viewing this that that authorization could come down as soon as tonight possibly tomorrow by Sunday officials believe. So what is the logic and threatening to fire the FDA Commissioner when we're in the middle of a pandemic, and you've got six weeks left in Donald Trump's presidency? And that's a question that a lot of people are still raising here at the White House.
And so, that's where they don't actually think that Dr. Hahn will be fired. However, if this was a few months ago, a few weeks ago, this is certainly something that could happen, because that's the level of frustration that you're seeing from the president over this vaccine effort is because he's seeing other countries roll about. He wants to be able to roll it out as well, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, thanks. Joining me now, CNN Chief Medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and how to dissect this busy day.
So, Sanjay, you spoken with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn many times since the start a pandemic. Would he let political pressure get to him when it comes to the vaccine? And can you explain the discussions that are going on right now between the FDA and Pfizer?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, the first part of the question, you know, if you'd asked me that a couple of months ago, I would say yes, look, I mean, there -- I think there was times when it was pretty clear that Stephen Hahn, the FDA Commissioner was bowing to political pressure hydroxychloroquine, exaggerating data around convalescent plasma, things like that. But I think most recently, he's not had evidence of battling depression or in fact, maybe over steering the other way as we're sort of seeing play out now, this may have already been authorized tonight, but then this back and forth may have actually ironically slowed things down. I talked to him about this issue a couple days ago, just the overall amount of pressure that he was feeling. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: People may say, hey, it's an emergency, why would you worry about the process? Why would you worry about the scientific review that you're doing? And it's my job. It's our job to explain that. And that's what happened. So, it was nothing more than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: He talks a lot about the fact that he's -- he recognizes there's a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there. So he's, I think he's balancing the messaging around that with watching this whole regulatory process play out. As far as the discussions quickly Anderson between the FDA and Pfizer right now, a lot of this seems to have to do with the labels that are going to be put on these vaccines. What are they going to say about 16 and 17 year olds, so authorized, but there's not enough data? What's it going to say about pregnant women, something like you should talk to your doctor about this? We've heard a lot about these allergies. With people who have had a previous history of severe allergies, be recommended not to take it. That that's, I think, what these final discussions are about right now.
COOPER: Presuming, the President called the FDA, quote, big old slow turtle. Sounds familiar? This has actually been a very fast process. I mean, do you believe there's any reason why Americans should not feel confident that this is a safe and effective vaccine?
GUPTA: Now, I don't think there's any reason they shouldn't feel confident. It is a fast moving process, the development of that, and that is it is truly remarkable. Some of the science upon which this vaccine was based, has actually been, you know, that some of this has been studied for quite some time. But this regulatory process proved, you know, showing the efficacy through these phase three clinical trials and then waiting for two months of safety data as well. Something that Stephen Hahn was pressured to not wait for by President Trump. He did wait for it. That's another example of him not bowing to the pressure, I think is all very important.
I think these final steps in terms of saying, hey, look, we don't want people who have severe allergic reactions to get in trouble. So, either we recommend you don't take it or you're prepared to maybe pre- treat with Benadryl or just, you know, have your EpiPen, whatever it might be. These last warning labels are important, but I don't think there's any reason to believe it's not a safe and effective vaccine.
COOPER: And once the FDA authorizes use the Pfizer vaccine, what's the next step?
GUPTA: So, this is happening real time. I mean, that, you know, as Kaitlan was just saying, the authorization can come at any time now. There's a few other meetings. So, the once the FDA authorizes this, the vaccine is on the move, leaving Kalamazoo, Michigan, and planes and trains going all over the country. The CDC has an advisory committee as well, which if the FDA authorizes something, the CDC then recommends it again for these various groups of people. And after that, Anderson, I mean, you know, Monday, Tuesday, we could probably see people getting immunized in this country for the first time outside of a trial, which is, you know, it is really remarkable.
COOPER: It is, yes.
GUPTA: And I just have to say that again. I mean, you know, that it's the best of times, and the worst of times at the same time, right? The best of times with scientific progress, worst of times with the number of people who are still becoming infected, but this is a good moment for overall science.
COOPER: Yes. I mean when you think, you know, people with HIV had been waiting for vaccine for decades. And --
GUPTA: For years.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's extraordinary how quickly this has happened.
Sanjay, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Again, another record high number of hospitalizations today. Also, so far more than 2,500 deaths reported just today. And of course, there are still several hours left. It is a tough week for so many families. There is so much loss and tonight sadly, it now includes someone we met here on the program. Keith Sugden died Tuesday in South Dakota. He had been in the ICU at Monument Health Rapid City Hospital when our Gary Tuchman met him a few days before Thanksgiving. The Walmart greeter for more than 20 years, was hoping to go back to the job that he loved. Never got that chance. Here's what he told Gary last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH SUGDEN, COVID-19 POSITIVE: It's been a great life. And these tears in my eyes are happy tear. They're not sad tears to know that how many people really care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So many people care. H was a greeter at Walmart for 20 years. Keith was a widower, he had nearly 40 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren. How incredible is that? He was 88 years old, and our hearts go out to his family and every family impacted by this pandemic.
Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes. Join me and my good friend Kelly Ripa for the 14th annual CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute. It's this Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Angela Bassett, Orlando Bloom, Gal Gadot will be among the celebrity presenters. Again, that's it 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
That's it for us. News continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Big night Coop. Have a good weekend.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Primetime."