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The Electoral College Is Casting Its Votes For President. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired December 14, 2020 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We're having the celebration of the democracy, Wolf.

[13:00:01]

You mentioned in the hour ahead. Let's look back to the hour. We're just saying goodbye to it and then we'll look forward just to remind people the stakes here and why all of these states matter. Every vote we count matters in the Electoral College. But some of these states, obviously, were more critical to Joe Biden's big victory.

In this last hour, what happened, Pennsylvania 20, Georgia 16, they're still finishing the process out in Arizona, 11 more there. These were three states that Joe Biden flipped, right? These were three states that Joe Biden flipped, carried by Donald Trump in 2016.

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state of Georgia absolutely critical not only to Biden's victory but they have been central to the challenges by President Trump, by his allies, repeatedly thrown out in the courts, thrown out by election officials, thrown out when you look at recounts three times in Georgia the recounted the votes, so, 20 here and 16 here.

Just in the history books, not only are Pennsylvania and Georgia absolutely critical to President-elect Biden's win, they were critical to the biggest fraud, which has been the president's complaints that there was fraud. He has proven none in all of the venues where he has opportunity to do so.

So that was the noon hour in the east coast. Now, we move on to the 1:00 hour here in the east again. You have six states with 43 more electoral votes to be counted, and, again, some significance in this hour, including state of Wisconsin. Remember, absolutely key to President Trump in 2016, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.

President Trump flipped the blue wall, as it's called, four years ago, right there, ten more into Joe Biden, another of the flips for Joe Biden. Michigan will come a little later in the day but Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, the five big flips that give Joe Biden his big victory.

And, Wolf, just again looking at this hour, remember at the beginning of the campaign, Trump campaign said we are going to make a play in Minnesota. It didn't happen. Trump campaign, even early on, said we're going to make a play in New Mexico, never happened. So as we watch this fill in, this is a more traditional presidential map, if you will, if you go back to the 1990s, in the early 2000s, but Wisconsin in the 1:00 hour.

Again, the state Supreme Court just again today saying go away to the lawsuits trying to challenge this. And so the allegations are being pushed into the rearview mirror as we reaffirm democracy, reaffirm the basic math of this election. No doubt where the outcome will be at the end of the day, but last hour and this hour, the building blocks of Joe Biden's big victory being reinforced as the electors, especially in the hour ahead in Wisconsin cast their ballots.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: This is the third time the Supreme Court in the state of Wisconsin they told the president and his supporters go away, not happening. The legitimacy of the vote is there.

Stand by, I want to go back to Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, today will be another is another sign of finality in this 2020 race with President Trump on the heels of dozens of legal losses. Let's check in with our correspondents.

Let's go to CNN's Adrienne Broadus live in Madison, Wisconsin. It's a state that was critical to Trump in 2016, critical this year to President-elect Joe Biden's win last month. Adrienne?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. And the last 30 minutes or so, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3, essentially throwing off that lawsuit brought on by the Trump administration looking to overturn the election results here in Wisconsin, primarily focusing on two counties, Dane and Milwaukee Counties, heavily Democratic counties. Dane County, where we are right now in Madison, is also it is a big college town. Milwaukee County is heavily populated, Democratic black and brown voters.

A short time ago, I spoke with one of the ten electors. They should be starting that process any minute here, local time. The elector told me he has received death threats. For example, he heard from people asking him to become a fearless elector, but that's not going to happen. The electors will be escorted into the state capitol here by capitol police, and they will enter through a secret room because of the security threats. Wolf?

TAPPER: Okay, I'll pick it up.

And let me go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny covering the Biden transition in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, President-elect Biden is watching all of this unfold, I am told, after he received his classified daily briefing this morning. He is preparing to be president, as he has been doing really for -- since the 7th of November when he delivered that first victory speech here in Wilmington. He will deliver another one this evening, I am told.

But, of course, so much else is going on. So he is doing a variety of things today. He also keeping an eye on vaccine rollout, the vaccine distribution here. And the question hanging over all of this is when is he going to get the vaccination. He has long said that whenever it is deemed safe, whenever Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is safe, he will get it.

So, Jake, that could come as soon as this week. His advisers who we're speaking to say, look, they're waiting to see how this rolls out, they're waiting to see when that will happen. But it certainly could happen as early as this week.

Meanwhile, this evening, we are told that the president-elect is preparing to give a primetime address.

[13:05:01]

He is going to talk optimistically about the way forward because of the vaccine, we are told. He is also going to set this day in motion as history. He has long been talking about how he wants to bridge the divide in this country.

Jake, there is no question, his job is harder than it appeared in Wilmington on the night of November 7th when he did indeed declare victory and give that speech. He has seen these partisan divisions. But he is still going to be delivering that speech tonight in an optimistic tone about the country is about to turn a corner here.

Jake, we are told he is watching this unfold, even as he is picking other members of his cabinet. So far, he has slightly more than half picked. I'm told more are expected here later this week.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny by the banks of the beautiful Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware.

And, Wolf, as Jeff just noted, it's going to be very complicated for President-elect Biden trying to bridge a divide when a majority of House Republicans willing to disenfranchise voters in four states because their guy didn't win.

BLITZER: Yes, it's hard to believe what happened. But the U.S. Supreme Court clearly made it obvious that they have no standing, whatsoever, and the country is moving on.

I want to go to Virginia and Rhode Island, where members of the Electoral College just formally voted. Let's watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad to announce and proud to announce that 13 votes have been cast for the honorable Joseph R. Biden of the state of Delaware for president of the United States. No other person received a vote.

BLITZER: That is the commonwealth of Virginia, 13 electoral votes going to Biden.

Let's check in on Rhode Island and its four electors.

NELLIE GORBEA (D), RHODE ISLAND SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. President, I have sorted and counted the ballots and announce that there are four votes for Joseph R. Biden of Delaware for president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Electors, you have heard the report of the secretary of state, Nellie Gorbea, who sorted and counted the ballots. There are four votes for Joseph R. Biden of --

BLITZER: All right. Let's check in in Wisconsin right now where they're voting on the situation there, and its ten electoral votes. Let's listen in.

So they're handing votes over to the teller (ph) right now. We're watching it closely, John. Wisconsin, as you correctly point out, was a key battleground state that Trump won four years ago and lost this time around.

KING: One of the so-called blue wall states, Wolf. If you come back up and look at the entire map, just remember this as it played out, Joe Biden, at the end of the day, is going to have 306 electoral votes, while 20 here and then ten in Michigan and ten Wisconsin, that's 50 right there, takeaways, if you will, from Donald Trump four years ago.

So if you bring it in now just to go into the state of Wisconsin, where we're looking at this, if you think about this, ten electoral votes, again, absolutely essential to the Trump victory, the Trump surprise victory back in 2016.

So, as we watch this count today, again, this is reaffirmation. We have no drama today about the outcome. But it does reminds us that it was a great day in democracy four years ago too. I know Democrats out there did not vote for Donald Trump. They were not happy that President Trump won. But the system is the system.

The system has rules. The system has process. The system has the ritual like we are watching today. Four years ago, the state was red if you go back in time. This was key to the Trump victory four years ago, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia as well, by the way, as they count their votes. Those are the big flips.

As come forward 2020, this is the great irony, is not a strong enough word for it today, that as President Trump celebrated getting these ten four years ago, guess what, Joe Biden gets them this time. That is an absolute affirmation of his campaign.

What did he say at the outset of the campaign? A lot of doubts in the Democratic Party that he was the right man. He said I can flip Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin back. And as you watch this process play out, Wolf, Joe Biden is going to get those ten electoral votes out in Wisconsin. That's what he promised at the beginning. That is why he is going to be president-elect at the end of this day.

BLITZER: And we're watching it all unfold live here what's going on in Wisconsin right now. The governor is going to be reading the votes, ten electoral votes in Wisconsin right now.

As we wait the official word in Wisconsin, David Chalian is joining us right now. Wisconsin turned out to be critical four years ago and very critical this time around as well. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, critical and close. 20,000 votes or so, Joe Biden won it by, the ten electoral votes, critical to getting Joe Biden to the 306. But also, Wolf, I'm reminded looking at Governor Tony Evers presiding over this.

[13:10:02]

Wisconsin, all year long, has sort of been central to this pandemic election year voting. I don't know if you remember in the primary season, they had to change the date of the Wisconsin primary and we saw people in line waiting to participate, socially distanced in that primary season.

We then remember that Joe Biden's Democratic convention was supposed to take place in Milwaukee. Of course, it ended up going entirely virtual, Joe Biden addressing the country during his convention from Delaware, not Milwaukee, because of this pandemic. And now this critical battleground state is completing the process here, delivering ten electoral votes to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, one of just five states that flipped from red to blue in this election season compared to 2016.

And as just John King was just saying, this was the building block for Donald Trump becoming president. And Joe Biden said from the beginning of his strategy that he had t restore the blue wall, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and he did so.

The easiest, most direct path for Joe Biden to win the White House was to restore and rebuild what had been traditionally Democratic states in presidential contests and that is precisely what he did. Then he added those Sun Belt states of Arizona and Georgia to his total, which may have implications changing the country's electoral map going forward.

But, certainly, Biden created a coalition that depended on older voters, white college educated voters, getting folks in the suburbs, in the critical suburbs of Wisconsin, around Milwaukee, out to vote for him and upend what Donald Trump was able to put together there four years ago. And you're seeing the culmination of that right now on your screen.

BLITZER: Yes. And it's interesting, David, that not only the U.S. Supreme Court here in Washington, D.C. but Supreme Court -- state Supreme Courts in several key battleground states rejected what President Trump is trying to do together with his supporters, his so- called legal team out there. They keep saying no, no, no, what, more than 50 times, various courts, local, state. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, they've against them time after time after time. Yet, David, the president, he continues to refuse to accept reality.

CHALIAN: Yes, including in Wisconsin this morning. There was yet another court ruling, as you said, sort of swatting away this notion. Wolf, I think you're making such an important point and it is why showing this, exposing this, bringing sunlight and daylight into this process is so important because the courts have had their role. They weighed in. And we heard a lot of Republicans over the last many weeks say, well, all of the legal challenges need to have time to be resolved. That process is done now. I mean, the Supreme Court could not have been more clear that the last legal challenge that made its way Friday night when we heard from the Supreme Court was not even allowed in the door. It was such an absurd attempt at a legal challenge. That process is now over.

Now, the electors are going and casting their ballots in all 50 states and actually making Joe Biden president-elect, Kamala Harris vice president-elect. And Donald Trump can continue and his supporters and allies can continue to think there are avenues that simply don't exist. But let me be clear, they don't exist. This is that step in the process that shuts down those attempts, some of them without any fact attached to them, whatsoever, to try and upend what is happening before your eyes today.

BLITZER: Yes. Wisconsin obviously a very, very key battleground state, a state now that will cast its ten electoral votes for Joe Biden.

Our Adrienne Broaddus is in Madison outside the state capitol over there. The governor, Tony Ever, he is presiding over this session. It should be wrapping fairly up soon, Adrienne.

BROADDUS: It should. And, Wolf, as we look at these images, quite a different scene compared to what we saw four years ago as the electors cast ballots four years ago in the 2016 presidential election, there were agitators inside the room at the capitol. Many of them shouting out, asking them not to cast their vote for President Donald Trump.

And right now, you notice ten electors are spread out. Not only are they maintaining social distance, they're making sure they're safe inside. Security had to make sure they were safe outside. At least three of the ten electors who are black Americans were threatened. That's according to Khary Penebaker. I spoke with him a short time ago. He said he has received death threats.

Now, the other electors, some of them, they're well known names, of course, as you mentioned, Governor Tony Evers, the chair of the National Democratic Party here in Wisconsin, and also the lieutenant governor, Baker.

[13:15:11]

You see they're taking their time as they cast their vote, but indeed quite a different scene.

And when I spoke to -- there's a little bit of laughter inside right now. It appears someone may have made a joke that led to some laughter from the electors. But when I spoke to Khary earlier in the day, he said what's happening surrounding the election, the fact that they have to have security, the fact they have to enter through a secret entrance at the capitol overshadows this historic moment.

And as we have been pointing out throughout the day, this is a ceremonial procedure that many of us never paid much attention to. Of course, our history books have, but your regular everyday folks, they weren't really paying attention to this step in the process.

BLITZER: Yes, the electors they are casting their ballots in state after state after state. We're watching these live pictures coming in from Wisconsin right now. They're doing the process. The governor is presiding there.

Kristen Holmes is joining us right now. So, you're looking very closely at all of these states but talk a little bit about Wisconsin.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And here is what we are watching now to give you a little bit of context. Essentially, the same thing happens in every state. They do an introduction of the electors, they swear them in, and then the next thing you see is the audible roll call vote. And that's when if there was to be a faithless elector, that's when it would happen at that moment, but we aren't expecting any of that.

So in Wisconsin itself, well, take a look here. This is ten electoral votes, as you guys have been discussing.

BLITZER: Kristen, I just want to interrupt for a moment. Stand by. I think they're going to announce the vote. Let's listen in.

GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): Okay. As chairperson of the Electoral College and governor of the great state of Wisconsin, it is my distinct honor to announce that Wisconsin casts its ten electoral votes for president of the united states of America to Joseph R. Biden Jr., and for vice president of the United States of America, ten electoral votes also for Kamala D. Harris.

BLITZER: There it is. It is official. You hear the governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, making the announcement that ten electoral votes are going to Biden and Harris. It is very, very significant moment right there.

Let's check in. North Carolina, a state President Donald Trump carried, they just voted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The electoral votes of the state of North Carolina have been cast on this 14th day of December, 2020, by the 15 North Carolina Republican electors. And all 15 votes are for Donald J. Trump for president of the United States.

BLITZER: All right. That's the 15 electoral votes in North Carolina.

Let's check in in Ohio right now. They've just made their Electoral College votes official last month (ph). President-elect Biden was the first to win the presidency without winning Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and 18 votes for Vice President Mike Pence for vice president.

Secretary LaRose, I invite you back to the podium to explain the procedure for electors to memorialize their votes.

BLITZER: All right. So there you have Ohio and its 18 electoral votes going for Trump.

In Kentucky, they just finished voting as well. The commonwealth of Kentucky has eight electoral votes. Watch this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The electors for commonwealth of Kentucky have cast eight electoral votes for Donald J. Trump for president of the United States and eight electoral votes for Michael R. Pence for vice president of the United States.

Thank you all for attending today. This concludes our ceremony. Chief Justice Minton, if you please leave the recessional --

BLITZER: All right. So there you have Kentucky and several other states, they're moving along relatively quickly, Jake. We are watching it all unfold. It is not going to be until the 5:00 P.M. Eastern hour when California will cast its electoral votes, and then it will all be official. Biden and Harris will have over 270.

TAPPER: That's right. And we are not watching because we anticipate there will be any surprises. We do believe the electors will vote the way that the voters wanted them to, which is to say that President- elect Biden won.

[13:20:05]

But we are watching because never before in modern history has any U.S. president so attacked the foundations of democracy as it's going on right now.

And there's a debate, Dana and Abby, about how fragile is our democracy. I happen to, and this is an opinion, I happen to believe that our democracy is more fragile than today would suggest, that if 25 election officials and judges out there had less character and were more easily cowed by nasty tweets from the president, well, who knows where we would be.

But, thankfully we have officials like since fired official from the Department of Homeland Security, Chris Krebs, and the secretary of state and the governor of Georgia, two conservative Republicans, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, the Philadelphia city commissioner, Al Schmidt, canvassing board members in Arizona and Michigan, and recently just this morning, a 4-3 decision in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. These are people rising to the challenge. But 25 people with a little less character, who knows what would have happened.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, you're exactly right. And, institutionally, people like judges on a state level and on federal level are supposed to be governed by the Constitution by what is right when it comes to evidence that is presented to them and not by the political whims of their constituents, which is why it was set up this way.

But I have to say, just in watching some of these states, it is striking that the claims of fraud, they're so one-sided. Not surprising, but I think it's maybe important to say it out loud, which is, you know, there were some states early on, when we were looking at the votes, it looked like Joe Biden could win and it ended up that Donald Trump took them.

And you're not seeing or hearing Joe Biden claim fraud in a place like Ohio, you're not seeing or hearing him claim fraud in other states that Donald Trump ended up winning, and it is because he is respecting the process, just like every Republican candidate president in recent memory has done beforehand. And I think it is worth noting that that is happening.

Now, it's easy to do that when you're going to win over 300 electoral votes, but he didn't have to. He is doing it because he sees reality in front of him.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's such a good point because it just reveals the logical fallacy of this whole conspiracy theory that the president, actually, in his tweet yesterday, as he was spiraling about this issue, said, in every swing state, there was rampant fraud. And all kinds of crazy things that he said happened in every swing state.

But in some of those swing states, he won. He won in the state of Florida, he won in the state of North Carolina. We just saw North Carolina certify their Electoral College for President Trump, but he is claiming it is only in swing states where Joe Biden won where all these crazy conspiracies happened.

It makes absolutely no sense because if there were problems of this magnitude, you would not only see them appearing for one person, and, by the way, as we have discussed many times, if Democrats really wanted to rig this election, they would have rigged it so they easily won the Senate and easily expanded their majorities House. That is all, I think, part of the complete, again, fantasy land the president and his supporters are living in.

But I think what we are seeing here actually, Jake, you said earlier, we're not expecting any surprises. In more than half of the states, yes, they are bound by law to vote the way their state went. In some cases, there are no penalties for not doing that.

But I think what is notable so far is that we haven't seen people deviating from the state vote. I think that's very notable, it's commendable. Because, as you said, this is a fragile situation I think we're in. It only relies on people doing the right thing. And so far, in all of the states, they've done the right thing. There have been no surprises. And I think we expect it to be like that for the rest of the day.

TAPPER: Right now, you're looking at images of, I assume, it's a man dressed as Uncle Sam and not actually Uncle Sam in Alabama. I assume that he is about to award the electoral votes in the state of Alabama to President Trump, outgoing President Trump.

[13:25:00]

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been fending off many Trump campaign and other Republican legal efforts in this campaign season. He's also one of the electors for commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and he joins me now live from Harrisburg.

Josh, before I ask you about today's process, I just want to get some clarification. Republicans are complaining and the Trump campaign is complaining about the election results in Pennsylvania.

Are any of these Republicans, such as Congressman Mike Kelly, who has been leading the charge to disenfranchise voters of Pennsylvania and give the electors to Trump, Kelly or any of the statewide officials, because I believe a couple of Republicans won statewide races in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago as well, are any of them saying, obviously, this election was fraudulent and that's me too, my race too that I won, therefore we should have the whole -- all of the election do over or are they just saying that there was only one issue and that has to do with one person on the slate that day, but all of the other elections were fine?

JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Jake, I don't think you can apply any logic or any rationality to anything Congressman Kelly or his cohort are saying. They claim that there is fraud. There has been no fraud. There has been no production of any evidence of fraud. It is why Donald Trump, his campaign and his enablers have lost at every single turn in courts through Pennsylvania, through our state courts, through our federal courts, and ultimately in the United States Supreme Court just a couple of days ago.

TAPPER: Look, Josh, I hate to correct an attorney general but the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, a fellow Democrat, he says there actually were two instances of fraud in Pennsylvania, both of them were Republicans committing voter fraud in order to vote for President Trump.

SHAPIRO: Well, I have seen John Fetterman's points on that. He makes a good point. But these individuals were attempting to commit voter fraud. In terms of widespread voter fraud that Donald Trump keeps tweeting about and lying about, and enablers like Mike Kelly keep attempting to amplify, there is absolutely no evidence of that.

And, Jake, let me be clear, as chief law enforcement officer of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if I saw any widespread voter fraud like the kind the president keeps tweeting about, I would prosecute it, as I have done in the past. This was a safe and secure election, period.

TAPPER: The commonwealth of Pennsylvania just cast its electoral votes for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Usually, this is a moment without television coverage, without a lot of fanfare. Did it feel differently? How did it feel to cast your vote?

SHAPIRO: You know, Jake, this was my third time serving as an elector. It's an extraordinary honor. And this time did feel different, I must say. It felt like the exclamation point on some of the ridiculous and baseless claims and meritless claims that the president put forth, and this was the exclamation point clearly demonstrating yet again that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

And when I had the honor of walking up on the stage and casting my ballot in a box that was designed and used by Ben Franklin, it was really an honor. I was overcome with emotion. And it was really a point of pride for me to be able to reflect the will of the people of Pennsylvania, not just in many lawsuits we fended off from Donald Trump and his enablers but through those two ballots that I put in the box today, one for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and one for Kamala D. Harris.

TAPPER: The Pennsylvania Republican Party says its electors also met today at the result of the Trump campaign. They say they did this to cast votes to preserve possible future lawsuits. I don't really understand the legal strategy here but they are doing this in other states as well, this kind of like alternate universe. Is there anything else that the president's legal team could do in court to change the result of the election? Are you confident the electoral votes that you and your fellow Democrats cast today will be accepted by the House of Representatives?

SHAPIRO: Yes. Jake, again, respectfully, I want to caution you to apply logical thinking to this ridiculous charade that these Republicans are going through, I guess here somewhere in Harrisburg. They have absolutely no authority to affect the outcome of the Electoral College.

[13:30:03]

No legislator here in Pennsylvania has any authority. I have been stating that as a point of legal fact for months.