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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Live Coverage of Electoral College Votes Today; Live Coverage as Vaccine Doses Administered to Health Care Workers. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 14, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: President Donald Trump has been pressuring states to ignore the will of American voters.
Any moment now, new results will come in and we'll bring that to you, live. Electors will cast ballots in Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
President-elect Biden right now leads the count to the necessary 270 electoral votes. Right now, he has 156 electors who have voted for him, 106 for President Trump. Let's walk over to the magic wall, John King is watching all of this for us.
You know, John, I want to look ahead a little bit, what we can expect this hour and in the next few hours as history unfolds.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: A couple of interesting states in the hour ahead, Wolf, as we go through this ritual -- it's in the Constitution, it's often ignored but it's absolutely critical today because, number one, just to reaffirm the Joe Biden victory; number two, to watch this history play out across the country.
And number three, just to rebut, once and for all -- if you need another rebuttal -- of the things the president of the United States has been saying that are simply false, that there was widespread massive fraud, that he won the election. He did not.
And by 5:00 tonight on the East Coast here, when California puts Joe Biden over the top officially, we will have another -- this is not the only affirmation, but another affirmation that, no, the election was held, it was held quite well, conducted quite well and Joe Biden is the winner. In the 2:00 hour, 10 states plus the District of Columbia, 92 electoral votes in all, if you're looking for sort of the highlights here.
Here's one for the president, he's going to get 29 votes in Florida. Remember, Joe Biden thought he could make a play in Florida? No, the president won. The battleground states were close, there was no widespread fraud, this was just a contested, tough election.
Most important to the Biden campaign is right here, Michigan. Remember, we've talked about this, this is the third of the so-called blue wall states. Pennsylvania's votes are in, Wisconsin's votes are in, Michigan will reaffirm essentially what Joe Biden said on day one of his campaign, I'm the blue-collar Democrat who can flip those three states, critical to Trump in 2016, back. So we will get those out of Michigan.
Just want to pop this off, Wolf. Again, 16 in Michigan, 20 in Pennsylvania, 10 in Wisconsin, absolutely critical to the Biden victory. And also, as we go through a civics lesson today, some of the quirks of the Electoral College. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, allocate their electoral votes by the winner of congressional districts.
So it'll be three for Joe Biden and one for President Trump when they allocate and count the electoral votes up in Maine because they do that. Again, Nebraska, the other state, that comes up a bit later in the day.
So we're having a bit of a civics lesson today, we're learning about the quirks when it comes to Maine and Nebraska. Most of all, we're watching this process play out in every state capital across the country. They have to -- it's a ritual, six different times, they sign a piece of paper because they get sent to different locations around the state and around the country.
By the end of the day, that math there, 306 for Joe Biden, 232 for Donald Trump. Again, this is a celebration of democracy, an affirmation of the election. And doesn't get as much attention most four years. Because the president has recklessly attacked the system so many times -- including today, again -- it's actually kind of refreshing to show, guess what, the system held up.
BLITZER: And you know what else is holding up? So far, no faithless electors, John. Sometimes there are a faithless one or two or three, not a big deal, but so far everything is smooth as we take a look at this count.
KING: Right, that is the count, you on your wall here, I'll just walk over here, Brian, you can come on in with us here. A hundred fifty-six to 106 is where we are now. Again, we have no doubt, we have no doubt what the outcome will be in the end. But might, this was the finish, 306 to 232, might it be one or two off? It could be.
Remember, Donald Trump had 306 back in 2016, he ended up with 304 because you had a couple of electors decide forget it, a little mischief. (INAUDIBLE) we're not expecting that this year, some states prohibit it, other state's it's allowed. But we do know, in the end, it's possible, it is possible that one of the Trump electors or one of the Biden electors will decide, a little mischief, they want to make a statement, they want to get some attention.
But we do know, without a doubt, Joe Biden will be -- again he's already the president-elect, it will be reaffirmed by the electors today. It's possible you get a faithless elector. Although because of all the attention on this, we know the Democrats are going in saying, sorry, Mr. President -- to President Trump -- they want to prove their point here, so I think in the end we're most likely to get exactly this. But that's why we're here.
BLITZER: We're watching it unfold. I like to say, history unfolding.
Jake, back to you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, just a little trivia for you, three of Hillary Clinton's faithless electors in 2016 actually voted for former Secretary of State retired general Colin Powell. So Colin Powell actually, in 2016, in the Electoral College, came in a distant third. But we don't anticipate that's going to happen this time.
We are watching democracy behind the scenes. It's unprecedented, as the outgoing president, President Trump, refuses to accept the will of the American people and admit he lost, and he's trying to undermine democracy.
let's check in with our correspondents. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live for us in the capital of Michigan, Lansing -- Dianne.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, things just beginning to kick off inside the capitol building here in Michigan, that 2:00 p.m. beginning of the Electoral College meeting.
Because things have been so tense leading up to today, those electors entered into a more hidden door at the capitol with escorts, with police on foot and on bicycles, as well as Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. They are making sure that there's intense security as this Electoral College meeting begins as Michigan's 16 electors are expected to go to Joe Biden.
Now, look, there has been a lot leading up to it. The reason why we're not inside and a whole lot of my colleagues are, is because they said that nobody can be in the capitol for security purposes. And then, last night, an e-mail went out to senate and house staffers and members, saying you can't come to your offices today because of a, quote, "credible threat of violence."
Now, in the hours today, there has been a Republican member of the state house removed from his committees for refusing to say that there would be not violence at protests that he was helping coordinate today.
And there has also been, now, the Republican speaker of the house sort of pouring water on this theory among some who cannot accept that Donald Trump may have lost the state of Michigan, that they could have a slate of basically Republican electors come in and vote for Donald Trump instead.
The speaker of the Michigan House -- again, a Republican, Jake -- saying that's not going to happen, I believe that this is a republic if we can keep it, and I intend to do so.
TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher in Lansing, Michigan, thanks so much. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Tallahassee, Florida, it's a state with 29
electoral votes. We want to go to her now. This -- I believe she's at the --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our legislature joined us in this priority, ensuring that the department --
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ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can take it, Jake. I'm not sure if we do --
TAPPER: Rosa Flores, please come in.
FLORES: Hey, Jeff, I'm not sure if we have the live pictures but I'm looking at them here now. The electors are meeting right now in the senate chamber that you see behind me, and you can see that they are individually seated -- and this is senate chamber, so this is where senators would normally be seated -- and of course that's because of social distancing.
Now, I have heard from multiple electors who say they're not expecting any, quote, "shenanigans or drama" here in the state of Florida. They are expecting all of the 29 electors here to vote for President Donald Trump. They described all of the electors that were selected as pro- Trump Republicans. And of course, we know that President Donald Trump took the state of Florida, and so that's what we're expecting to see here today.
Now, as you look at the senate floor, you can see that there are a few things that are a little different because of COVID-19. First of all, all of the electors had to get tested before going into chambers, they are wearing masks. And I was told by electors that they were not allowed to bring a guest, which is custom, which is supposed to be the way that it is.
But if you take a look at the video of the electors inside senate chambers, you'll notice that you'll also find Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And what really stands out to me, Jake, is that he appears to be there with one of his children, which is what we were told was not supposed to happen because of COVID.
None of the electors were allowed to bring guests, which is usual. But because of COVID-19, they were not allowed to bring anyone along. I know I talked to several electors who said they were actually very disappointed because they really wanted to bring either a son or a daughter with them to have that experience.
Now, I can tell you that some of these electors are pro-Trump Republicans, hard-core Republicans, as they were described to me. One of them will probably be a familiar face, as you look through that room. The name is Maximo Alvarez. Jake, you probably remember his emotional speech during the RNC, he's there, a couple of other electors are elected officials and party loyalists. But as I said, the way that it was described to me is they're not
expecting any shenanigans or drama right here in the state of Florida -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores in Tallahassee, Florida, thanks so much.
You know, it's interesting also, one of the responses to that crazy Texas lawsuit, which tried to take away the electoral votes from Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, it came from the outgoing Democratic governor of Montana, who said, you know, we have early voting too, we have vote by mail too. We put into place all sorts of new measures because of COVID.
But for some reason, you're not suing us even though we did the same thing that these other states did -- Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin -- in response to the COVID pandemic. I guess that's probably because Donald Trump won Montana.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. In Montana, in places like North Carolina. In North Carolina, they extended the deadline where you could accept absentee ballots by nine days, nine days in that state. President Trump won that state, and we don't hear any complaints or efforts to try to overturn the results of that election, and they made those changes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But this is not about logic any more, this is just about the president wanting to say that he has won. He's obviously not going to be able to do that, but I think that the idea that any element of this has a basis in fact has been long since thrown out the window. You know, 50 or 60 court cases ago, it's been thrown out the window.
TAPPER: And one other thing going on today, obviously as we're watching all this history in presidential politics, is there is the coronavirus pandemic and the first vaccines being administered to Americans outside of the clinical trials. This is New York City, this is the NYU Langone Health Center.
And we're watching some of the frontline health care workers -- doctors, nurses and others -- getting the COVID vaccine from Pfizer, BioNTech. It's a day for celebration on that front because, of course, there is the light at the end of the tunnel and it's something for us to watch -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were kind of talking earlier about the poetry perhaps, symbolism of the fact that we're watching this remarkable moment of health care workers, the first recipients of this vaccine that was produced in warp speed.
And that is happening on the same day that a new chapter in politics and in government is beginning in an official constitutional way with the Electoral College happening. And the split screen is quite interesting, and -- (APPLAUSE)
TAPPER: It's exciting, that's an exciting moment --
BASH: That's exciting.
TAPPER: -- because obviously, we still have some tough months to get through when it comes to the pandemic -- there's Mayor Bill de Blasio -- but there is a light at the end of the tunnel --
BASH: There is.
TAPPER: -- we just have to hunker down for a few more months. And when we get to the late spring, early summer, things should be closer to back to normal.
BASH: Yes --
PHILLIP: What --
BASH: -- closer to. And if I could just add, I mean, the fact that we are here before the end of 2020, the end of this horrific year, horrific because of the pandemic, it is really remarkable. And the fact that these health care workers want to show -- not just obviously get the vaccine, but are eager to show the world that they are getting it in order to make it normal and to make people feel safe about it is really, really important.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it's such a great day for science, you know? And it's a great day for facts, and I think that you know, as you were just saying, the symbolism of these things happening on the same day is really important. Because science is what brought us here, researchers in the lab every single day, working to find a cure, working to find a vaccine. This is the product of that.
And I think a lot of the same people who want to doubt that you should wear a mask, that you should take a vaccine, are the same people who are living in fantasy island about this election that we're also discussing today, but I think we've got to redirect people. These are kind of parallel universes, it's facts and science.
And that's where we ought to be living, not in a fantasyland in which you know, you can just do whatever you want and we have super spreader events and not wear a mask and not be responsible. We have good things happen in this country, progress being made on the coronavirus because we trust in science and facts.
And I think our democracy is going to survive today and in the days after because of facts, and because of the fact that people are also doing the right thing and standing by the Constitution that had laid out the process by which this is all supposed to happen.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely. And though I do think President Trump deserves credit for Operation Warp Speed, for investing and for announcing the program that has helped bring the Pfizer vaccine, we can't escape the fact that President Trump has been on the other side when it comes to facts and the pandemic, downplaying it, making fun of mask-wearing, putting forth all sorts of bogus solutions to the problem. And he is also putting forward a whole bunch of lies when it comes to the election.
And as Abby points out, Wolf, it's important that people hew to the facts, whether it comes to the election, which President-elect Biden won, or the pandemic, which should be taken very seriously.
BLITZER: Yes. As we say, facts first, so, so important. Let's check into Alabama right now, they have just made their decision, nine electoral votes, we know where they went. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Based on canvass of the votes by the electors, the results are as follows. For president, Donald J. Trump has received nine electoral votes. For vice president, Michael R. Pence has received nine electoral votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, nine electoral votes in Alabama going to President Trump.
Let's check in on Louisiana right now, eight electoral votes there, eight electoral votes in Louisiana also going to President Trump, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- representative of the 1st Congressional District proudly cast his vote for President Donald J. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Louisiana (ph), that's a done deal there.
David Chalian's with us right now, we're awaiting several key battleground -- states that were battleground states. We know the results of those states, David. But Michigan, one of the states we're awaiting.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, they'll probably remain battleground states, Wolf. I see future presidential contests where we're going to spend a lot of time in Michigan, in Florida, two states that are going to be casting their electoral votes this hour.
You know, Michigan is one of those states, that so-called blue wall that Donald Trump busted through -- it's how he won the White House in 2016 -- and of those three states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Wolf, Michigan is the one that came back strongest to the Democratic side. Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 140,000 votes. I think of those three states, it's certainly the widest vote margin that Joe Biden had in those states over Donald Trump in his mission of rebuilding that blue wall.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer was one of Joe Biden's contenders for his vice presidential slot, and as you know, has been battling all year long as it comes to the pandemic --
CHALIAN: -- with Donald Trump and his White House.
BLITZER: Hold on for a moment, let's listen in to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: -- five-point-five million people from all walks of life, from all 83 counties of our state, Republicans and Democrats and independents, cast their vote this past November. Michigan has chosen a clear winner for the Office of President of the United States, and for every elected office up and down that ballot.
The people have spoken. It was a safe, fair, and secure election. It was the kind of election our founding fathers envisioned when they created this democracy and built this country. And after today, the results will be final. It's time to move forward, together, as one United States of America.
Now is the time for us to put this election behind us, and to focus our efforts together to defeat our common enemy, COVID-19. Over the weekend, the first shipments of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine left Portage, Michigan.
Right here in a state built on innovation and grit, the safe and effective COVID vaccine is being manufactured by Michigan workers at a Michigan business to save the lives of Americans everywhere. Our state is at the center of the world right now in a good way, and FedEx and UPS came together to help distribute this life-saving vaccine, putting aside their competitive nature for the common good.
If they can do it, I think Republicans and Democrats can do it too. No matter your party, no matter who you cast your ballot for, we all have a personal stake in defeating and eradicating this virus together. So we must stay smart, we must mask up and we must get to work.
But at this juncture, we've got a little bit more work to do right here. As such, nominations are now in order for the Office of Chairperson of the 2020 Presidential Electoral College. I want to recognize Chuck Browning, elector-at-large, for the purpose of a nomination.
BLITZER: All right, let's continue to monitor what's going on in Lansing, Michigan, the state capital in Michigan, 16 electoral votes in Michigan at stake right now.
David Chalian, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, like others in Michigan right now, like the attorney general, like the secretary of state, all of them have actually faced death threats because they were simply doing what they were supposed to do: honor democracy in the state of Michigan.
CHALIAN: Yes. And these threats, there are the threats that they are facing today in terms of the actual location where this is taking place at the state house, Wolf. But also remember that Gretchen Whitmer has faced threats before about a kidnapping operation that there are pending charges against people.
You remember when Donald Trump tweeted back in the spring, "liberate Michigan"? Part of the pushback against her stay-at-home order at the beginning of the spread of coronavirus and the pandemic. So she has been in the crosshairs of political controversy after controversy.
In fact, Gretchen Whitmer may be the very best example right now of just how askew things have become from the norm. She has faced the Trump-supported anger that we've seen across the country, she's faced it here again.
And now, presiding over this constitutional process to duly award the 16 electoral votes that Michigan has to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris because they won the state soundly against Donald Trump, again with no evidence of any kind of fraud despite what we heard from the Trump campaign.
CHUCK BROWNING, MICHIGAN ELECTOR-AT-LARGE: I would also like to appoint Lavora Barnes as the sergeant-at-arms. The role of official --
BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor what's going on in Michigan and in Florida, two key states, we'll watch it all unfold from Lansing to Tallahassee. We'll take a quick break, much more of our special coverage on this historic day, right after this.
BLITZER: -- showing you some live pictures, what's going on in Florida right now. They just determined the winner in Florida of the Electoral College, just moments ago, 29 electoral votes in Florida. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ballots from Florida's 29 presidential electors have been counted and verified for completeness. Let the record reflect Donald J. Trump received 29 electoral votes for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: They also just concluded the vote in Utah, where there are six electoral votes. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I do pronounce we (INAUDIBLE) Utah's six electoral votes go for Donald J. Trump. (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Utah's six electoral votes for President Trump.
And also, moments ago in New Mexico, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chair and Madam Secretary, five votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Madam Secretary. We now have the certificate of vote, in which you all will certify --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, that was New Mexico, New Mexico and its five electoral votes.
John, things are moving along very much as expected.
KING: They are very much as expected, Wolf, and it's kind of interesting to go from state capitol to state capitol. Some of these are more formal proceedings, they look very well produced. Others, as you could see the Utah ceremony there, a little more on the fly if you will, it's more amateur video it looked like there. But that's just -- part of that's COVID, part of it's different states do things different ways.
We just were in Florida here, and again, to the idea, as we watch this play out, this is a state that President Trump won. This is a state -- I'll show you the numbers, let's come out of the electoral map for a minute and go back and look. This is a state President Trump won quite convincingly, a three-point win, 371,000-plus votes in Florida.
As we go through these states -- including the states President Trump won -- it's a reminder that there was no widespread fraud in this election. The president deserves credit for this. There were polls in the campaign that showed Joe Biden ahead in Florida, the Trump campaign fought hard for it, ran a good campaign and they won the state. Three points in Florida in a presidential race is a landslide, those states are usually so close.
So the president gets the 29 in Florida here as you watch it play out, and it's just a reminder. He's going to get his, too. He's going to end up, at the end of the day, with 232 electoral votes because he won those states fair and square, including Florida, a place where the Biden campaign competed very hard against him; including in North Carolina, a place the Biden campaign competed very hard against him, those 15 go to Donald Trump.
So as we count the votes that will reaffirm Joe Biden as president- elect, I think it's also important, Wolf, that we point out the Trump votes, especially in the states that were close, in the states that were hard-fought. Because what do they tell us? That's why they call them battleground states, that's why this was a tough, contested election . And that's why, in the end, there just is no doubt.
And today it's just an affirmation, especially as you go through here, you were just showing Michigan, 16 here. They went for President Trump four years ago, they went for Joe Biden this time fair and square, as the governor noted. And again, for all this talk you hear of, you know, the Trump campaign, widespread fraud, widespread fraud? Joe Biden won Michigan by 151,000-plus votes, 151-plus votes.
If you go back in time to 2016, Donald Trump won it by 10,000 and change, 10,704 votes. Hillary Clinton did not scream fraud when you had a very close election in Michigan four years ago, she did not. President Trump, somehow trying to suggest Joe Biden winning by 154,000 votes was widespread fraud.
So what are you seeing in Lansing, in all these other state capitols around the country?