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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Arizona Will Object First Today; Fulton County Resumes Ballot Counting; Security on High Alert in Washington, D.C. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 6, 2021 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What are you learning about how the proceedings will play out today?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there will certainly be many dramatic moments over the course of this day, Anderson, and should note this is likely to stretch out for many, many hours, potentially late into this evening, potentially even into tomorrow, depending on how many objections are raised. But as you -- no doubt, there will not be a change to the election, the election of Joe Biden eventually.
Now, this gets under way at 1:00 p.m., that's when Vice President Mike Pence will preside in his ceremonial role as president of the Senate over the joint session. Now, from there, they will go state by state, alphabetically, through the electoral counts, and that's where we will first get a hint at how many objections will be raised.
First up will be Arizona, that's Senator Cruz in the Senate with an accompanying House member. They will raise that objection first, and it is there that we will then hear from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He will essentially say what he feels about this, and we know that he has been opposed to this whole exercise. So an important moment for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, there.
Then, from there, each state, the House and Senate will recess, they will break apart, they will have up to two hours of debate, then they will have to vote essentially to reject or accept that objection. And that's where each state's rejection essentially ends, it will not go any farther there because it has to be approved by the House and Senate. The House of course, Democratically controlled at this moment.
So all of this is going to stretch over the course of many, many hours. It depends on how many states' objections are raised today. Right now we know three; there likely could be as much as six or many more, depending on how much Republicans push this here.
But again, important to note that this is an exercise that is typically carried out by Congress, very routine when they go to certify this election, but today it certainly seems steeped in so much political drama -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Sunlen Serfaty, appreciate it, thanks -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and we have new reaction on the Georgia runoffs from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She posted on Twitter, "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell." And that, of course, is what it will be if Ossoff is formally declared the winner here.
I'm joined now by former Ohio governor and now a senior commentator for us John Kasich.
So, Governor, what's your reaction to this? I mean, Democrats taking back a state, not -- haven't had a Democratic senator there in 20 years, underperforming, Republicans, what they did in the November elections in Georgia. I mean, what happened here?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I'm disappointed because I am a Republican, and I wanted Republicans to continue to control the Senate, but it's not going to be the case now. And I think it happened, Erin, the same way we can look, a couple years ago at the midterms. I mean, it's these suburban voters.
Basically what happened in Georgia is people down there have said, we've had enough of this insanity, we've had enough of Donald Trump. That's really what came through, and I don't know that these were the best candidates in the world, but you just think about what has been happening since the election and all that -- the inflammatory rhetoric and craziness that we've seen out of Donald Trump.
The reason I sort of suspected this is that my wife has family in Georgia. They're solid Republicans, and they said they were not voting for Republicans, they were voting straight Democrat because they'd had enough of the craziness.
So for Republicans, you know, they're going to have to figure out what this all means. And secondly, though, I think there's a bright spot here from the standpoint of people are saying enough, we don't want this anymore, we don't want these charges, these lies, these -- they don't want them anymore.
And I -- but at the same time, you know, the Democrats are going to have control, I just hope they don't go crazy, and they're capable of it, believe me.
BURNETT: So -- well, you know, so when you talk about what's happening with Republicans, right? Mitch McConnell now going to be the minority leader.
You know, you heard the Georgia elections chief about an hour ago, right? You know, I asked him who's to blame for this, and his point of view is four square, 100 percent President Trump for the lies and baseless stuff that he was putting out there during all of this, that's who he blames for this. And there are a lot of Republicans who agree, Republicans in Georgia.
So what comes out of this? Do Republicans double down on Trumpism after he -- KASICH: I -- I --
BURNETT: -- possibly just lost them the Senate, or do they dump (ph) them?
KASICH: Erin, it's -- I hope not. Look, I mean, the other group of people that should be blamed are Republicans in these positions in Washington. I mean, think about it as -- you're a mom, OK? And when your kids start, like, getting out of line, you have to correct them.
And I think that Republicans looked the other way and bought into a lot of this crazy Trump rhetoric and his activity. And so it's -- they've enabled him, they were enablers, and look at what they're doing today. The question is what emerges.
The reason this is being fought today is we're seeing an audition for candidates running in 2024. If this is where Republicans are going to be, which is basically without -- I mean, just what's their health care solutions? If they don't develop good ideas, at the same time having appropriate critiques of the Democrats when they go too far, then I think that they're going to be bankrupt. They have to learn from this. And doubling down on Trump, in my opinion? It isn't going to work, it hasn't --
BURNETT: Well --
KASICH: -- worked all along, they lost the White House and they lost the Senate now. I mean, what else -- and they didn't pick up the House, right?
BURNETT: Right, what else do they --
BURNETT: -- need, what else do they need to learn. You know, Georgia's lieutenant governor, he's been very clear, they need a GOP 2.0, something you've been talking about for a long time.
BURNETT: So, you know, just a few moments ago -- I don't know if you saw this before you came on, Governor, but Liz Cheney, obviously the number-three Republican in the House, Congresswoman Cheney, tweeted, quote, "Congress has no authority to overturn elections by objecting to electors."
And, you know, you talk about enabling, and that is what's happened by so many for so long. Vice President Pence, here he is in the last 14 days as vice president of the United States, and the president's about to throw him under the bus, depending on what he does today. What does Vice President Pence actually do today, do you think?
KASICH: Well, he does the right thing. Erin, look, what has happened in our country is that politicians have increasingly worried about their own self-interest and less about the country. I've never, in all the years I've been in politics -- I mean, of course, we all worry about self-interest, everybody does -- but I've never seen politicians behave this poorly. It's like, I don't really care about the country, I only care about myself.
Think about what happened to Mitt Romney on the airplane, when he was on his way to Washington here in the last day or so. People screaming at him, "traitor," "traitor," "traitor," it's like the goalposts for appropriate behavior of adults has moved.
And you know, what Liz Cheney's representing, really, frankly, I think is there's perhaps a civil war brewing inside the Republican Party among those people who are way out there on the fringe, and those people who are, like -- have common sense and some rationality.
You know, this is exactly, Erin, why I never supported Donald Trump, I knew this was going to come, and why I've been highly critical. And it pains me because I've been a Republican all of my life, and they've just lost their way, it's just pretty pathetic. Hopefully we can learn, we can move forward.
BURNETT: All right, Governor Kasich, thank you always, we appreciate your time.
KASICH: All right, Erin.
BURNETT: And counting resumes now in the pivotal -- resumes, I'm sorry, in the pivotal Georgia county of Fulton. Democrat Jon Ossoff currently has a lead over GOP incumbent Senator David Perdue, a lead which looks like it will grow, when you look at the counties where votes are still outstanding. We're going to have a live update on exactly where they are in that count.
And the president is set to speak to a crowd of his supporters in Washington as his desperate effort to overturn his election loss will be taken up on Capitol Hill, about to gavel in. We'll be right back, here on CNN.
COOPER: Fulton County, Georgia, the state's most populous county and home to Atlanta, has resumed counting its remaining ballots this morning. When they stopped in the early overnight hours, just under 3,000 absentee ballots remained. President Trump at the time called Fulton County had, quote, "found votes," implying that they were somehow fraudulent -- they weren't.
I want to get straight to CNN's Gary Tuchman, live in Atlanta. So, Gary, what are the election officials there saying about the president's accusations? And when do we expect to have actual results?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the election officials say they are just doing their job. And as far as results, we could have virtually complete results as early as this afternoon. This is the World Congress Center in Atlanta, it's one of the largest convention centers in the United States, and this is where Fulton County is tabulating and processing and scanning its remaining votes.
We can tell you something very interesting: This is the first time in 16 years that the state of Georgia will have one Democratic senator. This is the first time in 18 years the state of Georgia might have two Democratic senators. We have not called this race yet for Jon Ossoff, but the math is very bad for David Perdue.
And we can tell you that the reason for that is, he is right now down by 17,000 votes statewide. The state is telling us there are about 65,000 votes left to count. David Perdue would need more than 60 percent of those votes to overtake Jon Ossoff.
But most of these votes, the state says, are from Democratic strongholds, like here in Fulton County, the largest county in the state of Georgia. There are at least 2,700 votes to still count here, so because Ossoff is down by about 17,000 votes, the votes here don't make much of a difference. As a matter of fact, it's likely that Ossoff will add to his lead here in Fulton County because he's already received 71 percent of the vote here in Fulton County.
What's remarkable, Anderson, is that the November election featured Donald Trump, Joe Biden. It was a general election, got a huge turnout here in Georgia. This race is a runoff with no presidential candidate, yet the vote totals so far in this runoff are 90 percent of what we saw in November, that's a huge number.
One more thing I want to mention -- very important, in case anyone's wondering -- there are election observers from both political parties in this room with us right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, appreciate it.
Any minute now, President Trump's set to speak to a crowd of supporters in D.C. as his allies in Congress get ready for a stunt.
BURNETT: And we are awaiting remarks -- any moment -- from President Trump in Washington. He's going out because thousands of pro-Trump supporters have gathered in Washington in the cold, maskless, no social distance, there, to hear the president speak to him, yet again, within his baseless claims about the election, which are now, by the way, just hours away from being shut down by Congress despite this desperate last-ditch attempt.
Security is on high alert today after protestors clashed, at times violently, with police overnight -- that's what we saw in Washington. I want to bring in our political commentator Amanda Carpenter.
And, Amanda, really, what we're seeing here is a charade, right? And we know how it will end. And yet what is so damaging about it is that there are many people -- the president's supporters gathering in Washington among them, right? -- who believe this garbage that has been put out there.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think today is going to be an incredibly sad day for those who care about our institutions and democracy, because the people engaging in this charade are playing directly into the hands of people in the United States capital right now who are intent on destruction, whether it be of the Republican Party -- and I hope not any more than that.
We have watched so many buildings get boarded up again and again in our nation's beautiful cities because of the violence egged on by our president. And so this is a very dark day for our country, and I hope it comes to an end very soon so we can begin anew.
BURNETT: And yet you have Vice President Pence, right? The president just putting all this pressure on him to do something that he can't do, right? Even if he wanted to do it, he can't do it constitutionally.
You know, on Twitter this morning, the president calling on Pence to show extreme courage. Kaitlan Collins is now reporting that, yes, the president's calling people up and saying Pence would be nothing without him, and you know, Pence was nothing if he hadn't made him vice president, right? Putting every possible pressure he can on the vice president. What does Pence do?
CARPENTER: We're going to have to see. I think he's going to do the right thing, but the fact that it's even a question is a tremendous commentary of the state of the nation. I mean, I see so many Republicans, Erin, right now spending all of their time this morning trying to assign blame for what's happening today, what happened in Georgia.
And I think there's plenty of blame to go around. A lot of people want to isolate this to Donald Trump, but he's been working on this, you know, election-rigging charade for weeks and weeks and weeks. And our leaders in Washington, starting with Mitch McConnell on down, had this idea, well, let's just let this play out, let him have his day in court, which turned into weeks and weeks in court and dozens and dozens of court cases lost.
And nobody wanted to raise their voice until, you know, the last couple days? Where have you been? This is not just Donald Trump's fault. When you sat on the sidelines and let him take the party into his hands and crush it when he lost.
BURNETT: So, you know, to this point, the people who have, in the Republican Party, spoken up to Trump and stood up to him in the past month have been people out of Georgia, right? The secretary of state, the election chief, Gabe Sterling, right? They have repeatedly said -- they have not minced words.
Today, Gabe Sterling said Trump is 100 percent, four square responsible for this stunning loss in the Senate in Georgia, and yet here we are. On the way out the door, the president is going to have lost the White House, he is going to have lost the Senate, and now, you know, throwing Vice President Pence under the bus.
CARPENTER: Yes, we've seen extraordinary commitment to public service from people like Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, and they should certainly be commended. But where I do get a little bit confused by this, Erin, is just as recently as yesterday, you saw Gabe Sterling come out saying that he hopes David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler win the election.
And that's his right, but this is sort of the personality conflict that exists within the Republican Party. Kelly Loeffler was calling for the resignation of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and others while this was going on. Kelly Loeffler was playing into the disinformation and misinformation going on in that state, and yet Republicans are saying we should vote for her.
And so we have to resolve these kind of conflicts. Either the party is going to be on the side of truth and facts and democracy, or we're going to keep playing these games and see what we can get away with to win the next election. And, guess what, that has not worked out for Donald Trump, it has not worked out for the House of Representatives, and it very likely looks like it will not work out for the future of the Republicans in the United States Senate.
BURNETT: So if Democrats do gain control of the Senate in those two Georgia runoffs -- and obviously, you know, it looks now from the numbers it's pretty clear that's what going to happen, Senator Chuck Schumer will be the majority leader, and Schumer says, buckle up.
Now, there's -- you know, obviously the 50-50 split, the tiebreaker and Kamala Harris, you know, that can't be like a runaway agenda here, but this is way more than they ever thought they would get, right? It's committee chairs, it's confirmation hearings. What do you read into that?
CARPENTER: Well, it's going to be interesting. I think there's a lot of people hoping there will be, you know, a bipartisan compromise and moderation. I expect there's probably going to be gridlock. The Senate majority is not going to be able to do a lot with 51-plus votes, you need 60 votes to pass most things in the United States Senate.
And so, you know, we will see where this goes. Nancy Pelosi is going to keep driving the agenda from the House of Representatives, and so it's an open question for the Democrats, do they want to go to the far progressive side, push things like the Green New Deal, pack the courts?
Or are they going to follow the winning path as outlined by Joe Biden, who has resisted those very far-left forces and tried to force a consensus and win over those skeptical, you know, Trump voters that delivered him the White House.
BURNETT: Yes. Amanda, thank you, I'm glad to see you.
CARPENTER: Thank you.
COOPER: Yes, we are witnessing a historic day, it is all down to one Senate race in Georgia, votes are still being counted and soon a group of GOP lawmakers will baselessly object to Joe Biden's win. Our live coverage continues in a moment.