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Trump Holds Georgia Election Eve Rally; Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Georgia Senators In Georgia Runoff Back Election Objections; FDA Weighs In On Cutting Vaccine Doses In Half So More People Get Shots; Around 128,210 People Hospitalized In U.S. With COVID-19, A New Record; Proud Boys Leader Arrested For Burning Black Lives Matter Banner At DC Church. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 4, 2021 - 20:00   ET


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: State of Florida are (ph) run by the Florida Department of State. They are run by the state. So for example this weekend when the website crashed in Broward County. Erin, that was the Florida Department of Health directing seniors in their 70s and 80s to go to a Web site, to get an appointment to get a vaccine, and the website kept crashing. That is the reality -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Rosa, thank you very much. Powerful pictures and important reporting.

Thanks to you all for watching us as well. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. The President is in Georgia tonight ahead of tomorrow's Senate runoffs there.

He will be in the City of Dalton asking voters to take part in the final act of an election that he has spent most of the last two months publicly challenging, and now we know privately tampering with.

We also know he likely won't be spending much time actually campaigning for the two candidates because that would get in the way of him airing his own grievances and casting doubt on the vote.

We are in a very dark and dangerous place in this country right now with the President of the United States just having been exposed by a taped phone call over the weekend to be leading a potentially criminal, if not impeachable effort to steal the election.

At the same time, some of the Republican lawmakers now covering for him on that are just two days away from launching an insurrection of their own, seeking to invalidate the votes of tens of millions of Americans.

Washington's mayor is telling people to stay away from demonstrators who are expected to descend on the Capitol for that, fearing violence from right-wing extremists.

And every single living former Defense Secretary including two Trump appointees have just issued a warning, reminding those in uniform and those in command to, quote, "Refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election."

Did you ever imagine seeing anything like that after an election that saw massive turnout and was conducted in accordance with the law and with no evidence of widespread voter fraud? The fact that they even find it necessary to issue such a warning sends a message in itself, any or all of which is news enough tonight, but we want to begin with that call, which we know about because Donald J. Trump's inability to restrain himself overshadows his talent for undermining democracy.

You see the office of the man he was trying to browbeat into somehow procuring him the votes needed to win, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was taping the call.

But despite what he heard in Saturday's hour-long conversation, despite the fresh hell, the President has put him and his family through since the election with his lies, Secretary Raffensperger was reportedly not going to release the recording unless the President attacked state officials or misrepresented the call first.

And guess what happened? Because the President has the impulse control of a refrigerator magnet, he attacked Raffensperger, and out came the tape.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, Brad, I've got to get -- I have to find 12,000 votes and I have them times a lot. And therefore I won the state.

I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break. You know we have that in spades already.


COOPER: That is the great negotiator? The great deal maker? That's the art of the deal? Fellas --

This is a scared bully pushed into a corner of his own making and desperately trying to get out. The President, like all bullies also tries threatening Georgia officials on the call, but before we play any of those other clips, a quick reminder, the State of Georgia counted the vote three times -- three times and found no fraud or irregularities of any consequence whatsoever.

And the President's answer to that, well, just lie. Say you've counted again and say it came out differently.


TRUMP: And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know that you've recalculated, because the 2,236 in absentee ballots, I mean, they're all exact numbers that were done by accounting firms and law firms, et cetera. And even if you cut them in half, cut them in half and cut them in half again, it is more votes than we need.

(END AUDIO CLIP) COOPER: Yes, just cut them in half and then a half and a half again.

One point the President claims he won Georgia by half a million votes, a bit later, he lowers it to a mere hundreds of thousands.


TRUMP: There's no way I lost Georgia. There's no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes. I'm just going by small numbers when you add them up, they are many times the 11,000 but -- but I won that state by hundreds of thousands of votes.


COOPER: He didn't. Virtually no claim he made on this call is true, about halfway through, Brad Raffensperger's legal adviser debunks a string of them.


TRUMP: Do you think it's possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? Because that's what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that's illegal, right?

RYAN GERMANY, COUNSEL TO GEORGIA'S SECRETARY OF STATE: Ryan Germany. No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.

TRUMP: But have they moved -- have they moved the inner parts of machines and replaced them with other parts?


TRUMP: You sure, Ryan?

GERMANY: I'm sure. I'm sure, Mr. President.

TRUMP: What about -- what about the -- what about the ballots? The shredding of the ballots? Have they been shredding ballots?

GERMANY: The only investigation that we have into that, they have not been shredding any ballots.



COOPER: It's like speaking to a child. That's how you speak to a child. No, they haven't done that. No, sir. No, they haven't done that either.

And so goes throughout the call. Germany and Raffensperger calling out the President point by point again and again, politely but telling the truth, something the man overseeing Georgia's voting systems also did today.


GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEMS IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: Again, this is all easily provably false. Yet, the President persists. And by doing so, undermines Georgians faith in the election system, especially Republican Georgians in this case, which is important because we have a big election coming up tomorrow, and everybody deserves to have their vote counted if they want it to be -- Republican and Democrat alike.


COOPER: Which gets us back to tonight, and it's supposed to be why the President is in that state right now. You see the rally there. It looks like Donnie Jr. is there talking, getting them riled up.

A person familiar with the matter says that after Saturday's call, the President floated the idea of pulling out of appearing in Georgia tonight. The Associated Press reporting, he was persuaded to go ahead and use the event to air his election grievances.

I'm sure that was really a tough persuade. Like he really needed a big push to air his grievances? He would never miss an opportunity to air his imaginary grievances, which you have to assume will include his continued assault on the election system there.

The President has been so amped on this Georgia scam that he is running -- that two sources tell CNN the White House made 18 attempted calls to Secretary Raffensperger between the election and Saturday, 18 times they tried to reach him, finally resulting to that call.

What's more, members of the President's legal team are with him as well on the call. So is his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, and there was a small number of Republican lawmakers, most notably senator Mitt Romney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger who have criticized the President for this and his other behavior, most haven't.

They're scared, including Georgia Senator David Perdue, who was angry just not about the nation's chief executive potentially engaged in election tampering.


SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R-GA): I guess, I was raised differently, Sandra. My mom and dad were school teachers, but to have a statewide elected official regardless of party tape unknowingly, to tape without disclosing a conversation, private conversation with the President of the United States and then leaking it to the press, that is disgusting.


COOPER: Disgusting. Apparently, the call itself, you know, I guess, his mom and dad didn't mind lies and attempts to subvert American democracy. No problem with that in the Perdue family.

The call with its overtones of thuggery and conspiracy does bring back memories the last time the President was recorded leaning on someone for help winning the election. The phone call to Ukraine's President, he got impeached for. The one that this Republican Senator who voted to quit said he learned so much from.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the President has learned from this case.

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: What do you believe the President has learned?

COLLINS: The President has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.


COOPER: Again, it's like everybody is speaking about a child. Oh, no, he learned the lesson. Oh, he'll be much more cautious in the future. Yes, he wasn't.

Faced with the President's encouragement, a dozen of her Senate colleagues and 140 of her House counterparts, they are now committed to challenging the electoral vote count on Wednesday.

There's no evidence to back them up, of course, other than bootstrap claims that something must be wrong, because people are talking about it. People believe something was wrong. People are talking about it, and some genuinely believe something was wrong because so many lawmakers who ought to know better are egging them on, and the President is leading the way.

Not even so-called moderates are immune. Here's Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, trying to make a call to overturn the election already certified by all 50 states into something reasonable and wholesome and normal sounding.


GOV. MIKE DEWINE (D-OH): There's a lot of people out there who are questioning this election. People need to have confidence in the system. And if you put together a bipartisan commission that I think for the long run is something that really, really should take place.


COOPER: Why don't we just put aside the Constitution for just a little bit, just a reasonable length of time, until people feel better, and then we'll bring the Constitution back? Let's put together a bipartisan commission.

How about just growing a spine or growing a couple of vertebrae even? The cowardice we are witnessing right now is extraordinary, and so is the hypocrisy.

Listen to Senator Josh Hawley, a year ago, the guy who is now leading the Senate insurrection. Listen to him a year ago.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): The consequences to the Republic of overturning a democratic election because you don't like the result and because you believe that that election was somehow corrupted, when in fact, the evidence shows that it was not and talking about elections can't be trusted, that's an interesting approach. I think it's crazy, frankly.



COOPER: Now, of course, he's all in on crazy, frankly. But he doesn't want to be held accountable for it. Neither he of course nor any of the other Senate insurrectionists, we will call them on the program. We called all of them, by the way, none agreed to do it. And late today, Senators Perdue and Loeffler joined the dozen as well.

Joining us now, one senator who has spoken out against this sort of thing Democrat, Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator Murphy, you spoke on the Senate floor back on December 11, warning about what President Trump and the Republican allies were engaged in when it comes to trying to overturn the election, I want to play just part of what you said then.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Right now, the most serious attempt to overthrow our democracy in the history of this country is underway. Those who are pushing to make Donald Trump President for a second term, no matter the outcome of the election are engaged in a treachery against their nation.


COOPER: If you look at where we are now, it's only gotten worse, isn't it?

MURPHY: Yes, that seems like a lifetime ago, I gave that speech, December 11. At that point, we were just talking about a handful of lawsuits that were being brought to overturn the election. Now, we are talking about a full-fledged effort to end democracy as we know it, an effort that has the support of the majority of Republicans in the United States Senate and House combined.

Now, they are not going to be successful, it is worth repeating that over and over again. They're not going to win the vote on Wednesday. Joe Biden is going to be President of the United States, but the damage they are doing to our democracy is permanent because they have instilled this belief in a huge portion of the electorate, mostly Republicans and supporters of the President, that if a Democrat wins an election, then it's illegitimate by definition, that if a Democrat wins, it just must be because of cheating even if we can find no evidence of cheating. Well, that's not going to work this time around. But it will work, I'm

telling you two years from now, or four years from now, there will be some Democrat who wins in a red state and it will be overturned because of a belief in that state that Donald Trump is right when Democrats win they cheat. And that is the end of American democracy as we know it.

And so, you know, these Republicans in the Senate may think that they can get away with this, that it's all political theater, that it's just going to boost their popularity amongst Trump's base, no damage to the nation in the long run, they're wrong. They're not going to win this time around. But ultimately, this could be the undoing of American democracy.

I just think it's that serious, and I've thought that for a while,

COOPER: Well, you know and what they're depending on is that there are enough responsible Members of Congress and senators who will not vote that way along with them, so it gives them cover.

They are calling for something which threatens the entire -- our system of government and it's completely irresponsible and reprehensible. And they -- they're -- I mean, they know that it is not the case, but they want to keep Trump's base, they want to keep Trump happy and keep him tweeting favorably about them for any potential future run they have two years, four years from now.

But they know that they can do it because it won't actually happen. But that makes it -- I mean, it is just -- it's reprehensible.

MURPHY: Well, so I think that describes a handful of the individuals we're talking about. I think a handful of these senators do know that Donald Trump lost the election, and they're doing this to score cheap political points.

But I think it's important to recognize that there's a whole bunch of other Republicans in Congress, who actually do believe that their loyalty to the President outstrips their loyalty to the country.

There are a whole bunch of Republicans more so in the House than in the Senate, who are willing to throw out democracy in order to install the President again, because they believe that they need to put party and allegiance to Trump ahead of their allegiance to the country. They've kind of grown tired of democracy.

There are a lot of Republicans who aren't really interested in democracy if it doesn't result in their candidate winning, and I think you've got to understand that there are two sets of Republicans. Some that are doing this for crass political reasons, but there are some Republicans that actually have given up on democracy and that is really chilling.


COOPER: People at home, they listen and they hear you say this is a threat to democracy itself. I mean, is that just hyperbole or if you really believe that, how is this a fundamental threat to democracy?

MURPHY: So let's play this out for a second. Donald Trump is not going to be successful, because in Georgia, we have a Secretary of State who is going to do the right thing. But why would any, you know down the middle, regular Republican put themselves through what the Georgia Secretary of State is going through right now?

In the future, it may be that only blind partisans, that only QAnon believers run for these election positions in places like Georgia. And if that is who is running our elections and that person gets a phone call from an anti-Democrat, like Donald Trump, then they will overturn a legitimate result, then it will result in the people's vote being thrown out.

And so that's one of the ways that this ultimately leads to democracy ending is that you get people installed in these election positions, who aren't like the Georgia Secretary of State, who are willing to do what the President is asking and that could happen as soon as 2022 or 2024. It's not like it is 10 years or 20 years down the line.

COOPER: Yes, Senator Chris Murphy. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming next, our political teams weigh in on what we're in for this week and how bumpy it could get. And later, bestselling author Tom Friedman on what growing tired of democracy as Senator Murphy just put it, is doing to the underpinnings of democracy that we all used to think were unshakable.


COOPER: Live picture there from Dalton, Georgia where the President expected to arrive at any minute to try and help get the two Senate Republican candidates over the finish line tomorrow. That's supposedly what he is there for.

That is -- he may not bother to really talk about them very much because he is also expected to continue his baseless rant about the election that he lost, a rant that has the support of Republicans who are either too coward to speak out against it or too cynical, and it's not just the fringe elements and backbenchers.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dodged questions from CNN's Manu Raju about the call today. Here's what he said in the safe confines of FOX News.



STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: How do you interpret what you heard and what you read about what the President and the Georgia Secretary of State were talking about?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, I read about that the President has always been concerned about the integrity of the election.


COOPER: Yes, the President has always been concerned about the integrity of the election.

CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash is not afraid of answering questions. She joins us along with CNN senior political commentator, former top Obama adviser, David Axelrod.

Dana, how can Kevin McCarthy say that with a straight face? I mean, I know how he can, but it's just amazing that he can. The idea that President Trump is concerned about the integrity of any kind, let alone election integrity is absurd.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is absurd, but it's true. What he did was a classic punt. He said the obvious. He said the President is concerned about the election integrity.

You know, never mind the part that he didn't answer because he wasn't pressed on it and really wasn't asked this question, which is, the President is the one undermining the election integrity. That's what's going on here and that is what is so reprehensible, and why you are seeing such a remarkable split within the Republican Party.

I mean, the fact that this New Year is starting, this new Congress is starting, we're almost going to have a new President, and exactly what Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader was trying to avoid for all of these years during the Trump era is bursting out right now at the end, which is almost a Civil War between those who are pledging fealty to this President over democracy and those who really are even some from, you know, the ruby reds out like Tom Cotton, for example, saying no, this is not right. I am going to stick with the Constitution, and not with what the President is trying to say.

COOPER: I mean, David, I mean that -- you know, Dana mentioned the Civil War within the Republican Party. I mean, you know, there's been a lot of talk about the potential of a Civil War in the United States writ large, and when you end -- which is sort of, you know, obviously paid attention to, but when you actually have lawmakers, when you have people in both Houses of Congress willing to go along with these lies, objecting to the electoral count, I mean, an invalid -- wanting to invalidate the votes of tens of millions of people that were fairly cast. This is really dangerous.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it is dangerous. First of all, you asked Dana how Kevin McCarthy could say what he said with a straight face. I think the answer, Anderson is practice, practice, practice, okay, and they have been doing it for four years.

This President is fundamentally antithetical to democratic institutions, norms, rules, laws, he doesn't believe in them. He believes you do what is in your self-interest and anybody who does otherwise is a sucker. And we saw it again in that call this weekend.

He basically was telling the Secretary of State there, you're a Republican and your job is to find these votes and turn this election around. So it wasn't about integrity. It was about as Dana said, undermining the integrity of the election.

But yes, my big concern about Donald Trump from the beginning has been that every time you shred a democratic norm, it's very hard to reassemble. You establish new parameters.

And as Senator Murphy was saying, we'll see examples of this again in the future, because it is being normalized by these legislators. That is very, very dangerous for a democracy and that's really Donald Trump's legacy.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, Senator Murphy was just on the program suggesting some Republicans have just given up on democracy, you know, for a party, which claims to love the Constitution and embrace the Constitution, it seems -- it is just stunning to me that the volume of Republican Congressmen and women and Senators who are willing to just like push it aside, you know, call for this, you know, bipartisan commission in 10 days, and then every state can sort of decide whether or not to, you know, accept the election results which have already been accepted.

BASH: Which we are talking about a Civil War, the only time that's happened was post-Civil War, during Reconstruction, and it was a complete mess, when I said that, I mean, that Congress stepping in and creating a commission.

And so look, I mean that's not serious. That is a way for these Republicans mostly in the Senate, but some in the House, to show that they are supportive of what their constituents, who of course are Donald Trump's constituents have come to believe, because this is what they are being told by the President, by the media they listen to, by the world that they live in.


BASH: And these are very well educated, smart, Harvard, you know, legally trained senators who know better and that makes it even more stark the reason that they're doing this which is it's for politics, they are being politically craven. Period.

COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash, David Axelrod, thank you.

Coming up next, we'll talk with "New York Times" columnist and author Tom Friedman about how the Republicans lining up behind what for all the world to see looks like tool many, a bloodless coup attempt to overturn a democratic election.


COOPER: Congress finally comes together the day after tomorrow to ceremonially ratify the results of the November election. The once obscure process will be thrown into disarray by well over hundred Republicans. Not to put too fine a point on it, they will have an open and on the record role in subverting democracy.

Joining me now is "New York Times" op-ed columnist Tom Friedman, bestselling author of "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" among many other bestsellers and who wrote in a recent column that principled conservatives ought to think seriously of launching their own political party.

So Tom, you've long expressed concern about the election, about its aftermath. Did you ever think things would get to this level, the President trying to get a Secretary of State -- of a state to find votes that don't exist and so many Congress members and senators going along with him?


THOMAS FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, Anderson was great to be with you and Happy New Year. I -- because I'm a Tuesday night for Wednesday columnist and have been for most of my career at the Times, I actually get the first column after every election. So four years ago, I wrote the column of the morning after Trump won.

And I included in that column a quote from a friend of mine, Leslie Goldwasser (ph), a immigrant to the United States back in the '80s, from Zimbabwe. And Leslie said, you know, you Americans, you, you kicked around your country, like it's a football, but it's not a football, it's a Faberge egg. Be careful, you can drop it, and you can break it. I ended my column, but Trump, you know, winning with that, quote, basically, or I began it that quote, I can't remember now. I never dreamt though. I never dreamt that four years later, Anderson, that we would actually drop it by our own volition, I thought it might be out of division. But that one faction of one party would be willing to throw that Faberge egg on the ground to advance themselves, is truly shocking.

And Wednesday is going to be a historic day in American history. It will be the first time in our history that we will see a legislative attempt at a coup d'etat in the United States of America.

COOPER: That's really what it is a legislative attempt to edit coup d'etat in America.

FRIEDMAN: That is what it is. And what makes it so troubling. And you alluded to this is the cynicism of these coup plotters, because they know they're going to actually be saved by responsible Democrats and by principled Republicans. So, what they're doing is to curry favor to get one last lickin' on Donald Trump's boots, in hopes of winning his supporters, should he not run in 2024?

They are going to undermine the integrity of our last election, and introduce doubt forevermore in the integrity of our elections. The cynicism of it is just breathtaking. It just so recalls the biblical injunction for what does it profit at the man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? What is it profit these people if they gain Donald Trump's endorsement, but lose their country and its constitution? It is disgusting.

And I hope I have two hopes, Anderson if I could say. One is that principle, Republicans will finally understand that the morning after this, they can't be in the same party with these people. You cannot accuse someone of your party of putting Donald Trump before the Constitution, and the next day be in a party with these people.

So I hope they will break off the principal Republicans and start their own party, the Lincoln party, the Liberty party, whatever they want to call it, because imagine Anderson if just five of them split off center, right Republicans, it would completely crushed the others they would make -- they would then be irrelevant. And they would become the swing vote in the Senate, between Biden and any majority. If they no matter what happens in Georgia, they have enormous power.

And the second thing I hope is that CNN and "The New York Times," and all of us will combat this big lie with a big truth. And the big truth is to play by Donald Trump's rules, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse. Every time one of these people wants to come on CNN, or the New York Times, we will identify them as Ted Cruz, who plotter Josh Hawley who plotter.

If you see them on the street, if you see them hailing a cab, if you see them in a restaurant, if you see them on your college campus, politely, respectfully, come up to them and say you're the guy who put Donald Trump in front of the Constitution, shame on you. Because only shame, only if everyone sees that when you do that, you are shamed for that your name for -- your name forever will be associated with coup plotter. That's the only hope I think, for next time because someone otherwise we'll try this again.

COOPER: I mean, some of these senators, these Congress people, they know better they know what the truth is. And they clearly want Trump's support or his basis support there. But it is -- it's a losing game. I mean, Trump will turn on them six months from now if they say something that he doesn't like.

You're basically selling yourself into indentured servitude. I mean, I don't understand what they're actually thinking. Yes, they have to hang out with you know, they've created this alternate reality. And now they actually have to live in it because their supporters are now actually believing this stuff. So I guess they're just more afraid of their supporters than they're afraid of subverting democracy.


FRIEDMAN: Well, a couple things come to mind Anderson. One is, it is amazing to me and you've expressed this astonishment, that people are ready to base themselves, to sell out their country to hold on to a job that pays $174,000 a year in free parking at Reagan National Airport. Please God, I hope the Russians, the Chinese and Iranians are not watching at how cheaply these people will sell out their country.

The second thing I would say is, do you think Donald Trump is going to endorse Josh Hawley over Donald Trump Jr., over Ivanka Trump? Do you think he's going to pass it on to any of these crackpots? Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, there's not a chance of that. So, there they are. They're sacrificing their country, their reputations, I think, an utterly vain hope. And I just don't understand it.

COOPER: I mean, Donald Trump, the thing that I find the most realistic thing is he's sitting around laughing about Ted Cruz. I mean, if I'm Donald Trump and thinking, I insulted the guy's wife, and he's still licking my boots. I mean, it's incredible.

FREIDMAN: Yes, I guess that's just the astonishment that we all have that. That people are just ready to, to give up their integrity are so easily to a man who wouldn't sacrifice a Iota for them. He would not -- he wouldn't sacrifice one word for them.


FRIEDMAN: And that's so dispiriting, Anderson because how do we save this democracy? Because our kids are watching. The world is watching. And you'd think like Kevin McCarthy, I just want to ask him, do you live on some offshore island? Do you go home at night? Do you? What do you -- what are your kids say? What do you say to your kids, honey today? I put Donald Trump ahead of the Constitution.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, I appreciate it as always. Thank you.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead an insider's look at the pair of Senate races that will determine whether Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Representative James Clyburn joins us next.



COOPER: Again, just a few minutes we're expecting President Trump to speak at a rally in Georgia where he's supposed to motivate people to get out the vote tomorrow for a pair of Republican Senate incumbents. Though personal grievances and bogus fraud charges are also expected and probably will be the majority of what he discusses.

Regardless, the outcome of those races will determine which party controls the Senate. Short time ago I spoke one of the top-ranking Democrats on Capitol Hill, Congressman James Clyburn about Democrats chances as well as Trump tapes.


COOPER (on-camera): Congressman Clyburn, appreciate you joining us. I'm wondering what your level of confidence going into tomorrow's elections is especially factoring this bizarre 11th hour pressure that President Trump attempted to put in the Georgia Secretary of State.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, I'm cautiously optimistic that we are going to perform very well, in Georgia. We have been leaning in pretty heavily calling upon the experiences we had on November 3rd, some of which are there in South Carolina. Jim Harrison did a tremendous job going up to November 3rd. We went into that election day, I think ahead, significantly ahead. But we did not maintain potency on the ground. And we're trying to make sure that we don't come up short on tomorrow in Georgia.

COOPER (on-camera): Obviously, the incumbent senators Perdue and Loeffler have stayed in lockstep with the President, despite all the lies and debunked conspiracy theories that he has been floating, how much tomorrow's elections are, do you think a referendum on his assault on democracy which has been waging since even before the election?

CLYBURN: Well, you know, and that's part of what gives me a little bit of hope that we will do better than expected in Georgia. Because Georgians are, many of them are embarrassed by what the President is doing. Nobody wants to see this democracy frayed the way this president seems to be doing, and I do believe that there is going to be backlash to it. Because they're counting on people who show up tomorrow. And I think they're going to show up and show him.

COOPER (on-camera): Georgia obviously has a history of voter suppression. How concerned I'm wondering are Democrats should be -- should Democrats be about that? And, frankly, do you think Republicans should be concerned that President Trump is going to suppress their turnout with all of his lies about rigged elections?

CLYBURN: Well, I think both of us are going to have a heavy dose of concern about suppression. And I do not believe that the Georgians pass is going to pay played a big role tomorrow. I sincerely believe that a lot of Georgians have been freed by this effort in a lot of the pressures that have been put on the process are not going to be there. And so, I think people are going to be frequently as they go to the polls tomorrow. And I think all the votes are going to be counted. And I think they're going to be will come out on top.

COOPER (on-camera): New York Times is reporting more than 75,000 new voters registered ahead of tomorrow's election. Does that benefit Democrats? I mean, do you believe the races will come down to turnout?

CLYBURN: I think so. There's no question about it. I think it's going to come down to turn up. And I do believe that that is the voters basically, because I think a significant number of those people or people who did not register the vote before November 3rd, because they thought they were not eligible to vote for November 3rd. So I think those people who turned 18 after November 3rd, are going to tilt toward Democrats.

COOPER (on-camera): When you heard the President's call with Georgia officials. I'm wondering what you thought.

CLYBURN: I was not surprised. But I'm very, very disappointed that there is not more reaction by my Republican colleagues, especially those who before that telephone call, or before released to the tape demonstrated some support for this president even challenging some of the foolishness that he has put forward. But that should be really of concern to every American. They have the president of these United States, on the telephone, trying to force a state to do what we have always taught against in this country.


I have been on election watch teams. I have gone to other countries looking at the election process. In fact, I was involved with one headed up the delegation that throughout the election results and ordered a new election. Now, that is the kind of reputation we've had as a nation. This man is doing everything he possibly can to sully the reputation of this country and what a free Republic ought to be. And that should be of concern to everybody, most especially elected officials,

COOPER (on-camera): Congressman Clyburn, appreciate your time. Thank you.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.


COOPER: Well ahead, the crisis the President keeps ignoring, we'll discuss a new FDA statement on a controversial idea to boost the slow vaccine rollout. Also a top Trump vaccine official who weighed in on the rollout and told CNN this morning that quote, nothing has gone wrong.


COOPER: Short time ago, the FDA issued a statement that at least for now puts an end to a controversial idea meant to address the slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. The idea was to partially immunize Americans with half doses ahead of the government's effort to develop the vaccine told CNN on Sunday the FDA would meet this week to discuss it.

Tonight, the FDA said quote, at this time suggesting changes the FDA authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration. We run a significant risk of placing public health at risk. Getting vaccines into arms a major problem right now.


Today the CDC says just over the Over 15 million doses had been distributed. Only 4.5 million administered to patients. That's only about 337,000 more than on Saturday. For virus that last week took a life every 33 seconds. Today, another new hospitalization high more than 128,000. Despite all that, the head of the effort told CNN this morning that quote, nothing has gone wrong. He also tried to deny any earlier promise of 20 million vaccinated by the end of last year.


MONCEF SLAOUI, OPERATION WARP SPEED CHIEF ADVISER: Nothing has gone wrong. What we have committed to was to have 20 million doses of vaccine available for the American people to be immunized.


SLAOUI: We have worked.

CAMEROTA: No, it was that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated. Here is the sound of the promise that was made. Listen to this. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We will deliver 100 million doses of a safe vaccine before the end of the year, it may be quite a bit sooner than that.

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We expect to have approximately 40 million doses by the end of this year. So that would allow us to vaccinate 20 million people in December.

SLAOUI: Overall in the month of December between the two vaccines at Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, we expect to have immunized 20 million of our American people and keeping $20 million doses for their second immunization a few weeks later.

CAMEROTA: OK. I didn't even realize you were part of this. This is how you said 20 million people.

SLAOUI: Yes, so obviously I did say that.


COOPER: Yes, he certainly did, as did others, including the President. I'm joined now by Rick Bright, a member of the Biden transition COVID- 19 advisory board. He's an immunologist, vaccine researcher who resigned from the Trump administration last year's whistleblower.

Do you agree with the FDA that changing the dosing or changing the scheduling of vaccines right now is premature?

RICK BRIGHT, PRES.-ELECT BIDEN'S COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: Anderson, thanks for having me on, you know, it's really important to follow the science, scientists spend a lot of time and energy conducting really thorough clinical trials, to show you take two doses of the vaccine of these two full doses to get a full, safe and protective immune response. And that's where we should stay right now. That's where the science guides us. I fully support and agree with the assessment of the FDA. I'm glad to see that they're also following the science,

COOPER: What's going wrong, in your opinion right now on the getting this stuff out there and getting it into people's bodies?

BRIGHT: Anderson, a lot is going wrong. Obviously, we're far behind all the projections we've heard all year long from Operation Warp Speed, they haven't really delivered the number of doses, they haven't been produced and released. There's problems in the manufacturing to get those doses that we need to look at to get the supplies and raw materials to make more.

There are problems after delivery into the states in the health care systems. The funding hasn't been provided to allow them to staff up and train people to administer the doses. There hasn't been a federal coordinated vaccination plan and program with federal government working hand in hand with the states and local jurisdictions.

And also, very importantly, the educational process to Americans, in all cultures, all languages and all pockets of our country haven't been initiated. So, there's still this vaccine hesitancy so people aren't lining up to take the vaccine as quickly as they need to.

COOPER: President Trump --

BRIGHT: There's a lot that needs to be improved.

COOPER: President Trump had made it sound like the military was going to be, you know, getting this out, it's going to be done instantly it was going to be, you know, incredible. That's what they were putting. I mean, they were ignoring, you know, treatment they were ignoring, testing, downplaying all of that, the idea being their emphasis is going to be on getting this vaccine out. And they've failed with that.

BRIGHT: We've seen this all along for this last year Anderson, is really disappointing. An attempt or an effort to over promise and under deliver on numerous occasions. This is the most complicated vaccination campaign that we probably face in our country in decades, if not a whole century. So there's a lot of moving parts and they all have to go well, they all have been coordinated.

I don't think the current administration has really put the effort into making sure they're coordinated, and all the resources are there to get the job done. That's why we're seeing the calamity and chaos and challenge that we're seeing today.

COOPER: Once the with the Biden administration coming in, what can be done differently.

BRIGHT: We can do a lot differently. It starts at the top, of course, President-elect Biden has made this a whole of government. We're all in this together shared responsibility effort. We are working closely with the states and communicating with them now.

And all the various stakeholders understand where we need to fill those gaps. He's made it very clear he's going to use every tool and every authority available to him to ramp up production of supplies, to ramp up production of vaccine. We're going to push the money out to the states and support them. It's not a handoff.


The government -- federal government did our part. Now you do yours. Good luck. This is going to be a coordinated hand in hand effort all the way through to make sure we're getting those vaccines into the arms of people, in every pocket and the rural communities, in hard to reach areas and the Latinx and black populations and tribal nations. It's a completely different approach. I'm proud that to see the work going into it, and I'm proud to see the leadership we have.

COOPER: Rick Bright. I appreciate your time as always. Thank you very much.

BRIGHT: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Breaking news coming up. Police arrest the leader of the right-wing group the Proud Boys. He arrives in Washington. Details when we continue. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: With more breaking news tonight. Police the District of Columbia arrested the leader of the right-wing group the so called Proud Boys charging him with possessing two high capacity firearm magazines. Henry Enrique Tarrio was also charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a black church during protests last month during a rally in support of President Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud.

A separate rally is scheduled for Wednesday to coincide with that congressional vote on affirming the Electoral College results. That rally of course has authority seriously worried about the potential for violence, sign of just how serious things are. The Defense Department today approved a request by the D.C. Mayor to deploy National Guard forces to support local authorities during any demonstrations. And there's a chance President Trump will address some of those demonstrators.


The news continues. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?