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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

CNN Projects Warnock's Victory; David Perdue Hangs in the Balance; Democrats' Win Cements Joe Biden's Agenda; Georgia Senate Runoffs, Ossoff Widens Lead Over Purdue; CNN Election Night In America; Vice President Pence Faces Pressure From President Trump; United States Adds Record Number Of COVID-19 Deaths To 3,775. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired January 6, 2021 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Welcome back. We are living history here at CNN's live coverage election night in America.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We are.

CUOMO: We are living history.

LEMON: We are.

CUOMO: We are living history together once again.

We have breaking news this early Wednesday morning. CNN projects Democrat Raphael Warnock will win the special Senate runoff election in Georgia. Defeating Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler who bet it all on standing with President Trump.

LEMON: You better, it's been an assortment night. Warnock's win is historic. He will become the first black senator from Georgia. But the Democratic Party is on the verge of another monumental event. And you know what that is? They are going to flip the Senate possibly just in time for the Democratic president to be.

Jon Ossoff is in the lead right now over David Perdue. But the question is, can he bring it home for the party in just two months after Democrats turn Georgia blue in the race for the White House? That is a big question. That's a tall order. But it looks like it's on the verge of happening.

[03:05:01]

CUOMO: Absolutely, we're all watching this race right now, we're getting more votes on our watch. So, this has been changing in real- time especially in the Ossoff race.

So, let's go over to J.B., the headline for the night is one, we are seeing turnout here that we very rarely see in a special election. It's still less than the five million votes than were cast in the presidential election, but you're over 4.5 million votes so it's a very big margin.

Who came out also very important, the black vote really carrying Georgia for the Democrats so far in these elections. So, Warnock has a projection in his favor. Ossoff now, 12,806 votes were changed.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I circle that for you.

CUOMO: Thank you, that's why I read it.

BERMAN: Because that's an increase over the last few hours. We just got new votes in from where? DeKalb County. This is the county we've been watching all night long. More and more votes have been coming in. They now have 95 percent in, and you can see that Jon Ossoff has 83 percent of the vote overall.

Let's take a look at these new votes that just came in. It's really interesting stuff here. The math three -- no, wrong one, 3,341 votes for Jon Ossoff. Guess how many votes for David Perdue?

CUOMO: Sixty-two.

BERMAN: Sixty-two votes. Sixty-two votes for David Perdue. That's 98 percent, 98 percent to 2 percent right there. It doesn't even want to let me write it because it is so small.

CUOMO: Right. It looks like a negative 62 you gave which I don't think it's possible.

BERMAN: Well that's because I was so surprised that you actually knew what the number was. But the bottom line here is, and this is what's so important, is that the votes that are coming in are coming in from Democratic counties. Jon Ossoff in DeKalb County is overall winning 83 to 16.

But these votes in a Democratic county are actually skewing even more Democratic so you get 98 percent to 2 percent, you can see Jon Ossoff has begun to expand his lead there. That is hugely significant. It's just hugely significant. He leads by 12,800 votes. That is now more than the margin that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Gentlemen, gentlemen, I just want to point out that, you know, when we started this all the way back, I think it was in the 12 o'clock hour on the East Coast -- now I guess it's 12 o'clock on the West Coast. Everything that has happened so far is going the way that we thought it was going to go with the remaining precincts that were left to be counted. We thought that Jon Ossoff was most likely going to jump into the lead. He has done exactly that.

LEMON: Now you said it, it's not we thought.

ENTEN: OK. I thought --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Look how long that arm is to pat yourself on the back there.

ENTEN: I was trying to include everyone in the group, OK? That's why I like to do this. This is a team effort here. But look, the fact of the matter is, everything is going the way we thought it was probably going to go. And at this particular point, there doesn't, in my mind, look, we haven't projected the Ossoff race, but it looks pretty strong for him.

CUOMO: So, what does that mean to you, Harry, that Senator Perdue put out a statement, suggesting that they don't like the way the count is going, and that when all the lawful votes are counted he will be victorious?

ENTEN: I don't -- the only thing I read into that statement is that he knows that when all the votes are counted that he is most likely going to be trailing Jon Ossoff. That's how that statement read to me. I've seen statements like that before. And they tend to be put out by candidates who don't end up ahead in the vote count.

LEMON: But does he have a path as he believes?

ENTEN: Look, there -- look, there are still votes to be counted, right? And we are going to count all of those votes. But the fact of the matter is, based upon the votes that are still out there, and for instance, there are still -- looking at the numbers comparing how many votes by mail we expect in the states. There are still some vote by mail they'll be counting the states, and those are overwhelmingly Democratic. And so, to me, --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: How about military the ballots?

ENTEN: Seventeen thousand. There's only 17,000 possible --

CUOMO: Possible?

ENTEN: -- possible to come in by Friday. And you have no way of knowing exactly how they will split. But they won't split 17,000 a zero. So as Jon Ossoff's led begins to expand 12,000 now, where it could in a couple of hours, hard to see how that 17,000 would make the difference.

CUOMO: Another fact that we've been hearing, Don, as we reported earlier, was that in DeKalb County as you help with the phonetics of it. They had reported they had technical problems. Now, that of course, is being used like gasoline, certainly by Trumpers. And they're spreading, here we go again.

Well, look, if you look inside what they're doing they say that it didn't affect the votes up to where they were when they started to experience technical difficulty. And what is the remedy? They are hand feeding ballots into the machines. That certainly slows it down, that's frustrating for people who want the result. But it's actually getting humanize and hands on things, that usually comes much later in a recount paper.

BERMAN: It's a paper trail. There is literally a paper trail in Georgia. This is actually happening very quickly in terms of having to go to your backup plan to scan the ballots manually. And it's just the way that it normally needs to happen.

[03:09:56]

You know, I'm looking at Jon Ossoff right now with 83 percent of the vote in DeKalb County right now. Look at what Joe Biden got there, 83.1 percent of the vote. I'm only showing you that because you can see that Jon Ossoff is following Joe Biden's lead to what could very well be ultimate victory.

LEMON: Technically they are both correct, it's like Houston and Houston, it just depends if you are from Atlanta --

BERMAN: Yes.

LEMON: -- you say --

CUOMO: You told me to hit the De.

LEMON: Yes. When I was in Georgia, when I live in Georgia, we said DeKalb County. I mean, maybe that's a southern drawl, who knows what, who knows.

But I had -- John, we have gotten to learn so much about Georgia's electoral process about how they check and recheck and hand counts and clean ballots, and so on and so forth. I think we've learned more about this process than any other state except for, you know, those hanging chads in Florida back in 2000.

BERMAN: Well, look, in this whole process, how many times did Joe Biden win Georgia?

LEMON: About three or four.

BERMAN: And literally like three or four times he won Georgia. And just if you're paying attention here, and I don't jump ahead because we're not done counting tonight, so I don't know where we will be at the end, but right now I'll circle this -- I like circling stuff.

CUOMO: Does that mean I'm supposed to read it?

BERMAN: Yes, you're supposed to read it. You can see right there, right now Jon Ossoff leads by 0.2 percent. If there is a 0.5 percent lead or less, then you can request a recount. So David Perdue needs to keep this under 0.5 percent to even have any chance of a recount. And frankly, I don't think a recount will necessarily change anything because you're at that level right now -- 12,000 votes is not the kind of thing that you normally see flipped in a recount.

CUOMO: And they rarely do. Historically, they rarely make a major change in the outcome. Now, the question that is in the air obviously is, where do the votes remain, what are the possibilities? All right. For that, let's go to Kristen Holmes because she is at the

decision desk figuring out what's going on. And what do you see for us, my friend, in terms of where the possibilities remain?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, what I want to do is break down these numbers particularly because of what you said, that we are already hearing people pounding the pavements. These far-right Trump supporters saying that there is something hanky going on. And I think the most important thing that we can do is to say exactly where we stand.

And I want to start with what Harry said. He was talking about the race with Jon Ossoff. And he essentially said, that things are going the way we thought they would. Well, what does that mean? It means that we are looking at three things. Where are the votes outstanding? How were those votes cast? The pandemic has showed us so much about early voting mail-in voting. Most of that tends to skew Democratic. And where exactly are those votes located?

So, talk about votes outstanding and where they're located. Chatham County, this is Savannah, Georgia, this is a credibly Democratic. And there's still 3,000 votes outstanding. We know that most of the votes outstanding in all of these counties are generally the votes from today. But they are absentee ballots.

So even though they came in today, they were still technically early voting. Now that's not every single ballot that hasn't been counted, but we do know that most of the counties were planning on doing their counting this way.

So, take another look here. DeKalb. Obviously, this is outdated now so we had 7,000 left, it's probably 3.5. We've seen these margins. John has been talking about them all night. There is not a lot of room here for Perdue. The idea that he would even get the remaining 3.5 when we've seen the last several cycles be 98 percent, 90 percent going Democratic. It's just not really in the cards.

Then you have Fulton County. We've talked about this all night. There are 4,000 remaining absentee ballots to be counted. Now we do believe that there are some other ballots that are meant to be counted. But we have not heard back from them on what exactly they are. But when you look at Fulton County, suburb of Atlanta, Democratic county, 4,000 remaining ballots that's not going to be some kind of big sweep for Perdue.

Same goes with Cobb County, we still don't have those exact numbers, but historically again, suburb of Atlanta, Democratic and then Gwinnett. Here we have a specific number, 4,800 outstanding absentee ballots left to be counted in the morning. That big chunk, likely most of it is going to go to Ossoff.

So, this is why when we say things are going the way we thought they were going to go. It is based on real data here. Now I do want to talk about those 17,000 military votes because this is a big difference between us calling the race for Warnock, and us not yet calling the race for Perdue and Ossoff. We want to make sure that there is no room for error here. As John

said, is that any kind of indication that 17,000 votes would go for one person in a military vote, and it's not just militaries, it's overseas as well, no, absolutely not. But when you look at the margin we want to be as safe as possible. And make sure that there isn't any sort of wiggle room here. But again, when we go through these numbers, it is very dire for Senator Perdue right now.

CUOMO: Kristen, thank you so much for taking us through it. It's all about the possibilities at this point. So, you are writing down what counties those were, J.B., as we were going through them.

BERMAN: Yes.

CUOMO: How do we visualize this?

[03:15:00]

BERMAN: I'll start at the end. Gwinnett County right now 4,800 votes remaining. We see Jon Ossoff is leading there, 60-40. So, he'll pick up votes, he will net votes there. You go around the map, there still votes remaining from DeKalb County. We just talked about that, estimated about 3,500 votes left at least. And right now, Jon Ossoff is getting 85 percent of that vote. Again, he will increase his lead in likelihood when that comes in.

Fulton County, 4,000 votes left. You can see Jon Ossoff has a 71 percent margin there. Again, he will increase his lead. Cobb County another major population center. Now this one is closer, right? It's 55-44. Depending on where this vote comes in, he will likely path his lead some there also.

And the last one I want to look at is Chatham County, it took a while long time for us to get Chatham County. Chatham County is where Savannah is, and there are still roughly 3,000 votes remaining in Chatham County. He's leading 60-40 there.

So, all these counties where a lot of these votes is remaining, heavily Democratic, which is why when you look overall, and you see this lead of 12,000 votes for Jon Ossoff it's not unreasonable to expect that he will expand that lead over the course of the next several hours.

CUOMO: Just prediction wise, not in terms of calling the race, Harry, but what needs to happen for Perdue to change the game?

BERMAN: There has to be some votes tabulation error somewhere in my mind or something with the military ballots that's very unexpected. Because if you look at the numbers right now and you know how the vote by mail is going, it's so overwhelmingly Democratic. And even in the areas where Republicans are doing well, the vote by mail is much more Democratic than the overall vote.

It's just very, very difficult at this hour. Now obviously we need to count those votes. We're not outside the recount territory yet of 0.5. percentage points. But the fact of the matter is, I would much, much, much rather be Jon Ossoff at this hour than David Perdue.

ENTEN: I mean, it's even beyond that. It's not a matter or much rather be --

BERMAN: Help further.

ENTEN: Yes. It's David Perdue is sitting there going, how did I blow this at this point, how did this slip away. And I put up Forsyth County just so people can see it. Forsyth County and Cherokee County nearby, these are really Republican counties where there are a lot of votes.

Their population centers that happen to be Republican counties, and you can see 99 percent reporting in Cherokee. There is really nothing left to go there. Forsyth County, 99 percent. Nothing left to go. There's just not enough places right now, unless there is an error, which is not impossible, by the way. But unless there is an error, hard to see where David Perdue makes up these votes.

CUOMO: All right. We just don't have the suggestion. The only suggestion that comes from it was in the message from Senator Perdue which seems to suggest that when everything was counted, he would win, certainly not the case to this point in the election. But that's why we are watching.

It is a huge night for the future of our democracy, and certainly, for the ability for the President-elect Joe Biden to get things done when he is inaugurated January 20.

Stay with us as the news comes in, we will give it to you.

[03:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON (on camera): There is a lot at stake with this race in Georgia. Supreme Court nominations, the next attorney general, the next COVID stimulus bill, the fate of all those issues that impact all of us will come down to what happens in this final remaining Senate race in Georgia.

We have a key race alert for you now. We already projected the Warnock race. Warnock is going to win over Kelly Loeffler. But votes are still coming in. Jon Ossoff has pulled ahead of David Perdue by 12,806 votes.

CNN has not called the race. It is a key race alert right now. We are keeping a close eye on it, so will update you. Maybe there will be a call by tonight or in the morning. We shall see.

But let's discuss all of this. I want to bring in now the Angela Rye, the Alice Stewart, and the Ryan Lizza. Good morning. Good evening, wherever you are in the country.

I want to start with you, Angela. This is, this is right up your alley here. You are out in the trenches with these folks, helping to sign up voters. Overall, what does this mean for the voting public, for the people who have been representing and fighting for this particular president and for these people to be elected in Georgia? What does this mean overall, and for the administration, for a Biden administration?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I think we need to take a step back and remember that just like from the very first time black folks set foot on this -- on this -- in this country, we have been making history. We have been building this country. And black voters in Georgia have done it again.

I want to particularly commend my good friend LaTosha Brown, who is of course the cofounder of black voters matter, with Cliff also, and all of the work that's done on the ground by organizers, the organizations they deal with that they hope to fund who have been door knocking in COVID conscious canvassing and really, really doing the work.

LEMON: Yes.

RYE: When we all vote Michelle Obama's organization where my friends Stephanie Young has been in the trenches in leading the fight on the ground in Georgia, and of course Stacey Abrams who has been thanked repeatedly, but I want to of course, thank her again.

And then I think for the courageous character that has been displayed by Reverend Warnock who of course now pastors at the very church where Dr. Martin Luther King once pastored in, certainly stands on the shoulders of the late Congressman John Lewis, and of course Reverend Siti Vivian who we lost, both of them last year.

And so, for this to be the type of poetic justice that we need to see, not only in Georgia, but in this country, and of course I believe my good friend Jon Ossoff is right behind him.

[03:24:56]

I think this is what we need. We don't need a divided government to hold Democrats accountable. What we need is a united government to ensure that people in this country get the relief they deserve, now that we have seen unprecedented racism over the last 365 days.

We've of course seen tremendous loss due to COVID and people in hospitals right now that are overflowing. This is exactly what we need to ensure that this country is rebuilt, restored, and becomes much better. I don't want to say build back better. I still don't like that slogan but we do need to get better.

LEMON: All right. We are not going to talk about slogans tonight, Angela Rye.

RYE: I hate it.

LEMON: Because we'll not get into that.

RYE: I know. That's right, Don. Let's just leave it alone. LEMON: Hey, Ryan, so now what, Ryan Lizza? Let's -- I mean,

seriously. I want to talk more about the big picture here. Now what? What does this mean for a Joe Biden presidency, if it does indeed --

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

LEMON: -- turn out to that Jon Ossoff winds and Democrats control the Senate, with the help of the vice president?

LIZZA: Yes. I mean, I think three big headlines tonight, Angela hit the first, which is that the history of the first black southern Democrat elected to the United -- to the U.S. Senate. You can't overlook that history, a huge achievement.

The second for President Trump, a good chunk of the Republican Party followed him down this rabbit hole of election fraud B.S. And it turns out, when you tell every -- when you tell your own voters again and again that the election is fraudulent, that might not be a great thing to turn them out in huge numbers.

But thirdly, I think you hit on probably going forward the most important thing. And one vote on the United States Senate is the difference between climate change legislation getting a vote, the public option getting a vote, a robust immigration reform plan getting a vote, a bolder infrastructure plan then Biden would be able to negotiate with the Republican Senate.

So, the entire Biden agenda, if Ossoff wins, will be unlocked and able to be on the floor of the United States Senate. And so, we are waiting for the results of something that will change, I mean, I don't want to be too dramatic, but that will literally change the course of history. This is very much a kind of hinge moments depending on the outcome of the Ossoff-Perdue race.

LEMON: Listen, and it will indeed happen overnight. Right? If you look at the results of this election, it does turn out that Ossoff does win. You talked about the president and the message that he has been conveying, especially when it comes to conspiracy theories and so on, so forth, and saying that this is a rigged election and, you know, telling the Proud Boys during the election to stand back and stand by. I'm paraphrasing here.

I want to bring you in, Alice, and I want to show our viewers this video, this new video obtained by CNN appearing to show pro-Trump protesters clashing with police just hours ago in Washington, D.C., near the Black Lives Matter plaza. This is what we have devolved into.

This was an election that was won legitimately by the former vice president, and now President-elect Joe Biden. But yet the president still traffics in conspiracy theories, still has -- still trying to get people to believe that he won and then stirring up in a sense, scenes like this. Are we expecting more? What do you think of this?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm afraid what we are going to see tomorrow, unfortunately, we might see more of that. And that's really disheartening. Look, we had free and fair elections in this country on November 3rd. And we had them yesterday in the state of Georgia. And I've said that from day one.

And look, the fact that we lost one Senate race already in Georgia, and potentially Republicans are about to lose another, says a few things. One, when you questioned the integrity of the election and then you get on the phone and tell the secretary of state to pull 12,000 votes out of thin air to satisfy your vanity project, it tends to have consequences. And this is what we are seeing.

And I will second what Angela said commending LaTosha Brown and the Black Voters Matter group working so hard and tirelessly to really energize the vote. She has worked extremely hard.

Look, this is what happens when you have parties with different ideas with regard to the election. You have one party fighting like hell to vote, and one party fighting like hell against the vote. And this is what happens. And what we have seen in Georgia, look, I'm from Georgia. I was born and raised in DeKalb County and I can tell you this. The demographics have changed. The ideology has changed. But the intensity of Democrats has certainly energized starting with Stacey Abrams blazing the trail, but we've seen that we have a new face in the state of Georgia.

[03:30:00]

And the fact that Republicans allowed this to happen much to the fault of their own is really disheartening. But I will say this. I think we're going to continue to see more of this in the state of Georgia if Republicans don't recognize our elections are fair, they are valid and people need to have more confidence in them.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Well, listen, I'm just a country boy that lived in Fulton County so you said DeKalb so I'll take it. We always said DeKalb and maybe that's just me with my own southern drawl.

STEWART: I will clear up the election controversy tonight. DeKalb County. And the conversation at Matthews cafeteria in Tucker, Georgia, tomorrow. I would love to be a fly on the wall.

LEMON: Why is that?

STEWART: Well, certainly, because it change so much. I went to Tucker High School and the face of that town has change so much and I can say, there's a lot of people. As I said, Don, I have been fighting really hard, because I don't particularly like the outcome of this. But for the people that have worked hard and it's paid off, it's going to be a good day for a lot of people. Democrats in the state of Georgia and, you know, the change is hard but a lot of times change is necessary.

LEMON: It's amazing to see really Georgia turn blue, and especially being a son of the south to watch a state that is traditionally ruby red turn blue right before our very eyes and with the help of everyone that you mentioned. I'm so glad that you guys mentioned Latasha Brown. I think she is an unsung hero that we don't mention enough traveling around the country in a bus, right? All year long to register voters and to, you know, try to create

changes especially for Democrats and for folks of color in this country. Thank you all. We'll be right back. We are going to get all of you and we'll have another panel with you guys.

So, we could know before sunrise if Democrats will have a new dawn in the Senate. We've got the votes as they come in this morning and we are also watching other major stories, including an ugly clash between elected officials. A video, is straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:35:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Good morning and welcome to a morning that could change our country. Republicans are desperate for some good news in Georgia, but Democrats are already celebrating and their cheers could get a lot louder. How so? Let's go to a key race alert.

All right. Here you see it. This is the race to watch. Why? We have projected that Reverend Warnock will win his runoff race. So now it's all eyes on Ossoff and Perdue. Ossoff is now ahead 12,806 votes. They are within the margin of a recount which is .5 percentage points. The big factor here is votes remaining. It is overwhelmingly blue areas that they're waiting on votes for of any particular density and that makes the situation look good for Ossoff.

David Perdue, the incumbent Senator put out a statement questioning the validity of vote counting and saying all the lawful votes are counted, he will be victorious. We will see.

Now, that is an expression of this play to division that marks Trump and his minions and it does seem like this president and his allies in Congress aren't the only ones ignoring election results and court rulings and trying to divide. It has bled into everywhere that we are, everywhere our political culture touches. There is a premium on opposition.

Division has become a hallmark of being like Trump. The Pennsylvania state Senate spiraled into chaos. It looked like something out of a rogue state in the eastern block on Tuesday. Republicans hold a majority. They refused to seat Democratic Senator Jim Brewster. Why? Because they don't believe he won. And the race is being challenged by his GOP opponent.

But here's the problem. The win was litigated and certified by the state and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled the ballots valid, OK? So that means it's over if you respect the law and order, which they say they do, but they don't. So Republicans seized control of the swearing in ceremony from the Democratic Lieutenant Governor when he objected. Here's what it looked like in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Mr. President, it's your duty to put a motion properly before this body. If you continue to refuse to perform your duties, the Senate will proceed to replace you with the interim president pro tem pursuant to the Senate's power under article 2 of the Pennsylvania constitution. And the Senate's inherent authority to act under section 576 --

(CROSSTALK)

UNKNOWN: Well, I don't think the gentlemen wants to do that. He's been violating the rules from the moment he began to open his mouth, today. To not seat and certify a gentleman who's been qualified through the court system, recognize the constitution of Pennsylvania, suggests that you're breaking those rules. Do not threaten anyone in this building. Because trust me, my friend, you don't want to walk up there with me up there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO (on camera): Well, ugly. Got uglier. Why? They won, the Republicans. You know why? Because the parliamentary rule is yeah, you, the president pro tem, the head of the senate has to put the vote on. Yes, but it has got to be a rightful vote. You don't get to just invalidate an election, because you don't like it. Not all votes are OK just because you have a right to a certain process doesn't mean you have got the right to exercise it in any way you want whenever you want.

[03:40:09]

State Senator Brewster has still not been sworn in. You know, we often say in these situations, this isn't OK. That's too mild for what we're dealing with in this country. This is violence to the fundamentals of who we are, OK? He won fair and square. It was vetted by the institutions that separate us from savages, OK? That's what keeps us together in this country. We respect the law. It is our national religion.

The institutions and the rules are what keep us different from a non- Democratic society. So now what? Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman told the Washington Post this. It's a straight line between the ways the president has behaved this last two months to Pennsylvania. True.

Let's discuss. Harry Enten, the professor, Ron Brownstein and Sabrina Siddiqui. Sabrina, what do we believe is the next step in Pennsylvania vis-a-vis Brewster?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): Well, look, I think once again, we have seen time and again that these challenges to the election and its outcome have been tossed out. I think more broadly when you are looking at a lot of the Republican objections to the Electoral College, it has been about one thing and one thing alone, and that is about loyalty to President Trump.

And as you just pointed out. You cannot contest the results of an elections, simply because you don't like the outcome. It is clear that Republicans across the country, not only in Pennsylvania, have been objecting only in states where President-Elect Biden won and where President Trump lost.

It has also been transparent that on the one hand they're trying to argue that President-Elect Biden's victory is somehow fraudulent. Of course there's no evidence whatsoever to support that case but then a lot of the down ballot races where Republicans emerged victorious, that those elections -- that the outcome of those elections are legitimate.

So, there really has been no -- of course, evidence to support any of these claims. But I think it really just reinforces a hold that President Trump continues to have over the Republican Party which of course, we will see take at the center of the debate in Congress this week when they move to certify the Electoral College victory.

CUOMO: So, here's the scary part though, professor, is that it's not about the law. This is about politics. The law has already decided the race in Pennsylvania. What if they try the same thing tomorrow? That's what Trump is banking on when he talks about Pence, right? That Pence will do something for us. He knows or he probably doesn't but he's been told that Pence can't do anything but can't means that you play by the rules. What if they don't?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AND SENIOR EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC (on camera): Yes, look. I've said it before. I'll say it again now. The Republican Party is morphing into something outside of the western small d democratic tradition. We don't have a language in the American political tradition to explain what is happening inside the Republican Party.

It is more akin to what you see in a country like Turkey or Hungary or a party wins an election and then uses the instruments of state power to try to entrench itself and prevent the other side from ever taking power again.

This predates Donald Trump. I mean we are talking about a decade of Republican states passing multiple laws, making it harder to vote. The Republican members of the Supreme Court voting to eviscerate the voting rights act.

But it is enormously accelerated Chris, under Donald Trump, as you know, from trying to weaponizes the postal service. For trying for the first time in American history to tilt the census to the advantage of one party to everything that has happened since the election and the broad Republican participation in that.

In many ways there's a direct line between all of these and the closing arguments you heard from Republicans in the last few days -- in last months of these Georgia Senate races where they basically said, literally said that if Democrats win it will be the end of America as we know it. We will lose America. We have to hold the line and save America.

If you believe those are the stakes in each election and that the other side winning, something that happens pretty regularly in American politics will literally destroy the country as we know it, it seems like a small price to pay to ditch democracy to prevent that from happening.

And so, I'm not as confident as some at this whole impulse will disappear when Donald Trump does. It seems to be rooted more in the fear of demographic eclipse that is eroding the commitment to democracy inside the Republican Party.

CUOMO: You know, there's no small irony that these men and women are doing this. I would argue not out of loyalty but out of fealty to Trump. They fear him. They fear what he can do. It doesn't work both ways. But if anybody has committed un-American acts, it was certainly this president.

Now, Harry, what do you think about the Georgia races in terms of what momentum or negative momentum they create going in to the events of later today?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST (on camera): I mean, look, you seen what happens as a Republican Party when you pay too much -- let's say loyalty to the president of the United States, Donald Trump. And I'd say, if there are any Republican Senators or Republican House members who are on the fence of whether or not to challenge the result.

[03:45:03]

And you see what happens in Georgia, you heard about that Trump phone call that was leaked out earlier this week, I would say that perhaps you're less likely to challenge the result. But I will say this, there's still going to be a historic number who do. We're talking 120 to 160 House members on the Republican side. We are talking perhaps a dozen Senators on the Republican side.

Let's go back to 2004 when the Democrats challenged the results. There was one Senator, there was 31 House members. This is a completely different ball game. I don't think we necessarily grip what a historic event we're dealing with tomorrow or later today I should say. And we will have to reflect on that and I do think I agree with Ron here. This is just very unusual and not something we're used to in American politics.

CUOMO: That's the question is what are we going to choose for ourselves? That story has been told every day, events like tonight and what we are going to see later today. Hey, thank you very much especially at this late hour for being with us. But we are living history. It's worth the hours.

Up next, another story that is impacting so many and the new Senate is going to have to face immediately. The pandemic. We can't forget about it. How crazy is it that I would even suggest that maybe it's not at the forefront of your mind tells you everything about how screwed up our situation is in this country. Crisis is raging out of control. One of the biggest population centers in the country and they don't know what they can do. They need help and when is it going to come. Next.

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[03:50:00]

LEMON: So, we're going to have a fresh look at the Georgia numbers in just a few moments, but as Chris said before the break, the coronavirus crisis, not going anywhere. We had been covering this election this past few hours. And the nation, while we are doing that, the nation set a new record for daily COVID deaths. We just lost 3,775 more of our fellow citizens. Los Angeles County is especially hard hit. More than 1,000 deaths reported there alone in less than a week.

So, let's discuss now with emergency physician, Dr. Esther Choo. Doctor, thank you so much. Listen we are in really bad straits right now, there's no other way of putting it, 3,775 more Americans reported dead. How much worse is this going to get before it gets better?

ESTHER CHOO, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY (on camera): I mean, we keep on setting records, Don, and then we keep on breaking those records on a -- sometimes daily basis. And the acceleration is just simply hard to grasp. I mean we've had 840,000 cases now in Los Angeles County. It took 10 months to get the first 400,000 and then only one month to get the second 400,000 plus.

And so we're accelerating our acceleration every time we turn around. And of course you have Los Angeles County was an independent country it would rank in the top 20 in terms of case counts. And the health system is overwhelmed. It looks exactly like a health system would if our government has completely abandoned health systems and health care workers and it's just -- it's very hard to watch. And we haven't even felt the after effects of the winter holidays or potentially of this new variant.

LEMON: It is amazing what's happening with the shortage of oxygen there, also what they're telling emergency workers, ambulances not to pick people up unless -- at least, that they're going to make it or there are some signs that they're even recoverable, right? I mean, it is unbelievable.

CHOO: It really is. And you know, some of these things, it's never even occurred to me that we could ever be in a situation where we would run out of it. I had never thought even about where oxygen comes from. It just, you know, it comes out of a port in the wall. It's never been in short supply. Most hospitals have several weeks of reserve. We have these canisters that go with patients when they travel in ambulances and around the hospital. And you don't have to think about it. Because you never run short.

But we've never had a crisis like this before. But even more so than any material shortage, we're simply running out of -- the human resource which is just impossible to replenish at the rates that we need. I mean, nurses are being asked to take care of, you know, five or six critically ill patients at a time when they would normally have a one to two ratio.

You know, doctors and nurses I know are pulling double backup, triple backup and then they are volunteering on their days off to come back and give vaccines to people. You know, it was like, we can squeeze so much out of people. But ultimately that runs out. And as the numbers just go out of control, I don't know how much more we can squeeze out over the upcoming months before we really derive benefit from the vaccination programs.

LEMON: Well, Doctor, talk about you know, people who are front line workers, right, becoming possibly exposed to the virus over and over and over again. The L.A. County Public Health Director says community transmission rates are so high that you run the risk of an exposure whenever you leave your home. What if anything can be done at this point to stop the spread?

CHOO: I mean, we need the next two weeks to go by really fast is what needs to be done because what we've lacked this entire time is really a central coordinated plan and a team that is able to lead our country out of this with a consistent message and really help states and leaders in every state and down to the local level in being nimble around quickly putting into place the kind of stricter public health messages and measures that we need as case counts go up, so it doesn't get completely out of control like this.

[03:55:13]

LEMON: Dr. Esther Choo, we always appreciate having you on your expertise. Thanks so much.

CHOO: Thank you.

LEMON: Straight ahead, the other important story this early Wednesday morning. I can't believe its Wednesday morning. Right? I used to saying Tuesday night. Wednesday morning. And that is the last Senate race. Senate control all comes down to this. Raphael Warnock wins, but Jon Ossoff and David Perdue are still battling it out. Fresh numbers are coming in and we've got them straight ahead.

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