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Democrats Take Control of House, GOP Keeps Senate; Trump Feels Vindicated After Midterms; Senator Bill Nelson Calls for Recount in Florida Senate Race; Interview with Senator Dick Durbin; Interview with Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 7, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Four Senate races still undecided this morning.

President Trump set to talk about all of it. And we haven't even mentioned the governor's races. He will hold a White House news conference 90 minutes from now. Already, though, he is calling the midterms, quote, "a very big win" for him and for his party.

Let's begin this hour with our senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

Good morning, Mark. A lot to take through with you. Let's begin with the House.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, Poppy, look, a lot of things happened overnight here. In fact so big so that Democrats, as you said, has taken back the House of Representatives. They needed to get to 218 and look where they are now, 229. So how did they do it? Well, let's look across the country and see where they picked up seats that were once held by Republicans. Look at all this blue here all across the country. These are seats once held by Republicans Democrats picked up.

And as you can see, Republicans picked up a couple of Democratic seats but certainly not enough to offset those losses. But, you know what, where are we right now, well, we are down to eight races right now in the House of Representatives, seven of them could be Democratic pickups. If that is the case, we are going to see the House Democratic lead increase.

One interesting race, I think, we should show very quickly is this Republican right now. They haven't called this race yet. This is Mia Love. She is a Republican African-American woman in the House of Representatives. It looks like she is going to lose right now. We haven't called that race yet but that was an interesting race that we've seen, one of many across the country in the past 24 hours.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: So, Mark, on the House side at the higher end of projections in terms of Democratic pickups, on the Senate side, on the higher end of projections on the Republican pickups.

PRESTON: Yes. You know, Jim, you're absolutely right. If you look at here right now, Republicans started at 51. They are up now to 55. They have picked up three Democratic seats. Let's see, to show what we did there with the House. We can show with the Senate. Let's see what happened. These races right here are very, very important. Look at Claire McCaskill in Missouri. She loses. Over here in Midwest Indiana. Look what happens. Joe Donnelly loses. And then of course when you head out here to North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp loses as well.

But now where do we stand? We got a couple of more races that are outstanding. I should point out, Democrats did pick up Nevada but again certainly not enough to offset what Republicans have done so far.

Here we are right now in Montana. We haven't called this race. 95 percent is reporting. Look at how close that is. Less than 2,000 votes.

HARLOW: Wow.

PRESTON: I think we're looking for votes right here in Missoula. The reason why is we see about 10,000 point difference between Matt Rosendale and Jon Tester. And a quarter of that vote still needs to come in Missoula. And then of course we have -- we come out here. We go down to Arizona. This is looking better right now for Republicans. But look at this right here, how close that is, 75 percent reporting. They are waiting for mail-in votes and absentee votes, as well there. And then of course down in Florida where we are awaiting an outcome.

HARLOW: Before you go, Mark, what about the governor's race in Georgia? Got so much attention. So contentious. Now what?

PRESTON: Well, right now, Stacey Abrams is asking for a -- we probably would expect her to ask for a recount. Right now she is refusing to concede. She thinks that there's about 77,000 votes that are out there right now. She believes that she can make up those votes once they come in. But the fact of the matter is, at this point we see Brian Kemp has a pretty healthy lead at this point. But again this has been a very decisive race. We'll see what happens.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: One of the races to watch certainly in the last 24 hours.

Mark Preston, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Let's go to the White House now. CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

The president positive. Is he right to be positive this morning?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, good morning. There is no question that the president in the words of how he is describing himself to aides, he feels vindicated. And sure there is some vindication in the fact that Republicans expanded their grip on the Senate, particularly if the state of Florida holds there. That is something that the president feels vindicated by. But there is no question, the world order, the political order has

changed in Washington because of the House of Representatives. Everything the president does in the second two years of his first term in office are going to be different largely because of the checks and balances that really have not been there at all for the president during the first half of his first term. But the president will be talking about all of this. He'll be celebrating his victories, trying to brush off the House defeats at his news conference here.

But he is tweeting this morning about House Democrats, trying to fire a warning shot about that investigation. Let's take a look at what he said. He said, "If the Democrats think that they are going to waste taxpayer money investigating us at the House level then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all the leaks of classified information and much else at the Senate level. Two can play at that game."

But the reality here is the House Democrats can decide what to investigate. Who knows if the Senate Republicans would agree to do that? He doesn't control the Senate Intelligence Committee there. But one thing we are picking up here, Poppy, is that there are confidantes and allies and indeed supporters of the president wondering if he has the full grasp of how much this House Democratic control could change his presidency.

HARLOW: Right.

[10:05:12] ZELENY: In terms of everything. So midterm elections, as he said throughout, no one knew about midterm elections. People are now beginning to describe what this very different sense will be for House Democrats.

HARLOW: Right.

ZELENY: And he may play ball on some things like infrastructure and other matters. So a new day here. We'll see how he plays it -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. What will happen with, you know, requests for his tax returns with Democrats in control of the House. What will happen -- whether Articles of Impeachment begin in the House? How will they play all of this? We'll see.

ZELENY: Indeed.

HARLOW: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

Some breaking news. Incumbent Democratic senator of Florida, Bill Nelson, has just called for a recount. It's a tight race as you there, separated by just 0.4 percent at this point between him and the current Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott.

Let's go to our Manu Raju who joins us now with more. Our senior congressional correspondent.

So, look, Florida again so close. Bill Nelson is calling for a recount. What else can you tell us?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right. And the Democrats hope that there is some way that Bill Nelson could salvage this seat. This was a surprise for Democrats going in. They knew this was going to be a close race in Florida. But him being on the side that appears to be losing this race a cause of concern as Republicans padding the majority in the Senate. If the recount changes anything of course that will be welcome news for Democrats who are all about pushing for that going forward.

Of course the state has an automatic recount within certain margins. So that may be the case. There is a lot of attention going to being paid here on the Hill from Florida, Montana, the Democratic senator Jon Tester, that race has not been called yet, as well as the Arizona Senate race, open seat between Martha McSally, the Republican candidate, and the Democrat Krysten Sinema. Also not been called yet but McSally has the lead. So we'll see if the margin changes anymore after those final races are called -- guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes. A few thousand votes, nothing like a few hundred votes in 2000. But here we are again.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Recount in the state of Florida.

Joining us now to talk about all of this, we got Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Ryan Lizza, Kirsten Soltis Anderson and Bakari Sellers.

Ryan, if I could begin with you, you covered Washington for a long time, does anything get done in Washington with this split?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: With split in Congress, no. I mean, there is some potential for Trump, let's be honest, who's not that moored into any specific ideology, right, to perhaps go into a deal-making phase with Democrats. But the more ideological factions in the Republican Party in the Senate are -- you don't really see -- I don't really Venn diagram of policy that gets done in the next two years based on the current composition. Right? I mean, the House, there is so much pent-up demand among Democrats for oversight. Right?

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: The Intelligence Committee and House Oversight --

SCIUTTO: Trump's taxes.

LIZZA: Trump's taxes. That is going to dominate so much in the next two years. And in the Senate, there is going to be a lot -- the main thing will be, well, we've got have the Republicans having the majority. We're going to confirm as many of Trump's judges.

HARLOW: Judges, judges, judges.

LIZZA: And members of his administration. And that -- I think those are the two big things that are likely to get done in this town. HARLOW: So, Julie, to Ryan's point about these committees, we've got

Elijah Cummings who will now chair the Oversight Committee. He just said this morning yes, we want to look at the president's tax returns as it relates to the Emoluments Clause. And they will have a lot of power on that front. Jerry Nadler of New York who chairs the Judiciary Committee, he said this morning the president is going to learn he is not above the law. You've got Maxine Waters on Finance. What does this mean for the Trump presidency?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it could mean -- it could mean quite a lot. I mean, at the very basic level, it will mean that they will have to -- you know, Elijah Cummings has been making these requests to get subpoenas issued on so many of these issues the whole time in the minority. Democrats couldn't do it. Now he has the gavel.

They will be able to ask for some of these documents. They will be able to get them. They'll be able to subpoena people deep within the agencies who have been involved in some of the decisions like on family separation, for instance, on security clearances. We've forgotten about the whole --

HARLOW: Blame that on tax returns. Just so our viewers understand.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Sure.

HARLOW: The power now that this committee will have led by Democrats on the president's tax returns.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Right. So there is a provision of the law that allows the House Ways and Means Committee -- this is not actually one of the investigative committees.

HARLOW: Right.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: But the tax writing committee, to ask for the president's tax returns. Now it's never been tested. So -- but you can bet that Democrats will go after that given all of the questions that have risen. This is the first president in modern history who has really revealed his tax returns and provided them for the public to see. And that is a power that the Democrats have and they will try to use.

But there are lots of issues that they will try to put focus on, try to issue subpoenas on. They will -- their biggest problem I think is trying to figure out which of these they really want to focus on because they're going to be like a toddler soccer team going after the ball. You know, there's so many -- it's a target-rich environment. And there are a lot of possibilities for them.

[10:10:02] I would say, just to the point of getting anything done, what it would take would be a president who'd be willing to have that going on on this side, while he says, all right, I'm going to just cut some deals on infrastructure, on some of these other issues I care about. And I think we've all seen that this is not that president. He is going to be so upset and offended by all of those investigations, all of the pursuing of his tax returns and all these other issues that I don't think he's going to be able to sustain a separate --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: I remember -- I remember the morning after 2016, a lot of talk about an infrastructure cooperation on both parties. And here we are two years later.

Bakari, Rick Scott is challenging these results. In Florida it's a 0.4 percent difference.

HARLOW: Nelson.

SCIUTTO: Nelson, sorry.

HARLOW: Ben Nelson.

SCIUTTO: Four percent difference, it's required by law. Based on what you have seen of those numbers there, will a recount possibly close that gap?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: You know, recounts usually don't tend to bring a lot of success for the person who is asking for the recount. But there are some votes out there, some mail-in ballots and some things in Broward County, Miami-Dade County. The very Democratic rich areas of Florida. But last night eerily reminded me of 2016. As you saw the map fill in and you saw Andrew and Bill Nelson take this lead and then you just saw the Panhandle just rain down Republican votes for Scott and DeSantis. And then at the end of the night you're begging for more votes from Broward County.

SCIUTTO: Broward County. Yes.

SELLERS: Like is there any more vote in Broward County? Tell me what's coming in and it always comes up short. So I think that this recount, I think that the recount in Georgia may have more success in Stacey Abrams race. And the only reason is because a lot of those votes are coming from the Fulton County area. Those mail-in ballots. And she doesn't have to win, she just has to get him below the 50 percent number to go to a run-off.

SCIUTTO: Run-off.

SELLERS: And so this is a different --

SCIUTTO: That's more interesting in effect.

SELLERS: It's more interesting and it's more nuanced for the audience.

SCIUTTO: OK. Kirsten, state of Florida, is that becoming more reliably red in your view after all these high hopes in repeated cycles?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, these were purple results. I mean, we're having a recount in the governor's race. So even though the results are certainly one at this point that make Republicans happy, you know, keeping the governor's mansion which they've had since the mid '90s, good news for Republicans. But Florida remains a purple state where Republicans have the upper hand in large part because there are a lot of retirees there. Republicans doing much better among older voters than younger voters.

That's allowing them to hang on in a state like Florida where you have the diversity of the entire United States all captured in one particular state.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. And the immigration issue a hot one there, no question.

SELLERS: And Florida is going to change. And I don't think people are paying attention to that because one of the things the Democrats are proud of, with Medicaid expansion, all these other stuff, is Amendment 4 in Florida passed last night. So there are 1.4 million felons who now have the right to vote. I mean, many states already do this. South Carolina being one of them. Half a million of those individuals are black.

And so if this was not a ballot initiative, if this was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott then Andrew Gilllum is the next governor of Florida. And I think that Republicans are now looking at a new terrain with 1.4 million new voters.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Well, speaking of --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Speaking of states that are changing, let's talk about Texas. Now in Texas, Beto O'Rourke did not take down Ted Cruz. I think that was always a little bit overblown. But if you look at the House races, places where Republicans really struggled.

HARLOW: Yes.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: The suburbs in Texas --

SCIUTTO: Houston, Dallas.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: In particular, there are also a number of seats that Republicans held but not by the margins that they normally do.

SCIUTTO: Will Hurd.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Deep red seats.

HARLOW: Right.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: That were now -- you've got Republicans hanging on to them by a point or two. Texas is changing slowly, I think oftentimes Democrats get very excited. They think this is the cycle that the change is going to happen.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: This stuff takes time but it is slowly marching on.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you all.

SCIUTTO: Well, a lot more to talk about.

HARLOW: Yes. A lot more. So stay with us.

It is only the day after, the morning after the midterms. You know what else it is? The start.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: The start of the 2020 race. And what the results today tell us about the battle two years from now? Plus that heated Georgia governor's race too close to call. We are just finding out that the Republican Brian Kemp is only up by 15,000 votes right now, Jim.

SCIUTTO: A record number of women elected to the House of Representatives. We are going to speak to a newly elected congresswoman who made some history last night. It's a remarkable story. That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:18:59] SCIUTTO: Whatever your view of the midterms and to be clear, both parties racked up both big wins and disappointing losses, no one can doubt that Washington will soon be a very different place. In fact it is this morning.

Our next guest will help lead a smaller minority in the Senate for the Democrats, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, currently the minority whip.

Senator, thanks for taking the time this morning.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So Democrats win against an unpopular president with enormous Democratic turnout in this election. And they lost seats in the Senate. What happened?

DURBIN: We had 10 of our seats were in states carried by Donald Trump. We won five of them. And the other five not so well. We're still waiting for some returns. But we were up against a pretty bad deal in terms of 26 or 27 Democrats with their fate on the line and the Republicans only with eight. So the odds were against us. We've held our own in many places.

SCIUTTO: Let's be frank, though. This was at the higher end of what even Democrats and even some Republicans thought would be the final math here. [10:20:04] I just want to quote a tweet from Amanda Carpenter, former

communications director for Ted Cruz, also a CNN contributor. It gets at I think an important point here. She said following, tweeted the following, "Serious lesson for Dems. I can't believe they haven't learned yet. Republicans are not going to vote against their own interests -- taxes, judges, guns, et cetera -- because President Trump says bad things. Dems have to offer Republicans something."

What is your answers to that?

DURBIN: Well, of course, it's become the Trump party. And that was pretty clear last night. It's no longer the Republican Party. And there are many Republicans who voted with us yesterday and I think may continue to. That's how realignment occurs. When it comes down to it the message is going to be clear and the House of Representatives under Democratic control I hope will move to make those definitions as clear as possible.

Who doubts that health insurance, the cost, accessibility and coverage for preexisting condition, didn't turn out to be a major issue? It did. I don't think you're going to see the extreme positions taken by the Republicans in the past. I think the House Democrats are more likely to address efforts by the Republicans to kill off the opportunity for insurance.

SCIUTTO: Do you see any ground for cooperation across the aisle and with the president legislatively? Again we hear infrastructure. But we've heard that before. Opioids, and there has been some progress on addressing the opioid crisis. There is some meeting of the minds on drug prices.

But on the flip side, Senator, there is enormous incentive or disincentive for both parties to work with the other side. Do you see any work getting done with this makeup?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you it will have to come from Capitol Hill exclusively. This White House has time and again shown that they are unwilling to sit down and come up with any bipartisan compromise. I mean, I sat next to the president on January 9th of this year and he said send me a bill on DACA, the Dreamers and immigration. You pass it, I'll sign it, and I'll take the heat. Forty-eight hours later he completely reversed his position and has never come back to it.

So he's a very difficult man to sit down and deal with. I think some Republicans will want to work with Democrats in the future. I'm counting on it.

SCIUTTO: One possible offer of compromise or at least has been talked about, does mean that it's concrete. It is Democrats give Trump the money he wants for the wall and exchange -- in exchange for a DACA legislation. Is that a deal that the Democratic Party would be willing to make?

DURBIN: It's a deal we offered and was rejected by the White House. And many of us thought it was hard to explain why it would be for this crazy wall, 19th century answer to a 21st century problem. But the president was demanding it. And so we said, all right, to really deal with immigration reform, we need to do it. We're willing to suck it up on the Democratic side and stand with you. He rejected it.

He is virtually impossible to bargain with. Particularly on the issue of immigration. He has people around him who are very hateful, and they are unfortunately color his judgment.

SCIUTTO: Senator Durbin, you have an emerging dispute over Florida coming here with Rick Scott now saying -- we heard earlier and we reported earlier that Senator Bill Nelson calling for a recount there. Rick Scott just responding to that by saying the race is over. You see it is within 0.4 percent there. What is going to happen in Florida with this recount in your view?

DURBIN: Well, it's hard to say and there are races around the country that are really hanging in the balance here. And Florida is one that is extremely, extremely close. The circumstances down there I don't know. But, you know, we want a fair count. And we also want to put an end to this voter suppression.

For goodness sakes, why does the Republican Party think their fate is tied to reducing the number of people who show up to vote? That democracy, if it works, has more and more participation, makes it easy for eligible voters to come forward. Yet the Republicans time and again have found ways to impose I.D. cards, limit the early vote, try to make it as hard as possible for people to vote.

Clearly they believe this is a way to overcome the demographics which are not headed their way.

SCIUTTO: Senator Dick Durbin, thanks very much for taking the time. We look forward to talking to you in this new playing field in Washington.

DURBIN: Thanks.

HARLOW: All right. More than 10,000 people have served in Congress in the last 200 plus years but never before has a Native American woman been elected to either chamber. Well, today that changes. One of the two women, Native American women elected last night will join us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:29:16] HARLOW: A history-making night especially for women last night. At least 100 women will serve in the House of Representatives next year. Two of them will be the first Native American women ever elected to Congress. You're looking at them on your screen, Democrats Sharice Davis of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico.

Congresswoman-elect Haaland joins me now.

Good morning. Congratulations. And you said, quote, "I have never seen myself," anyone -- a Native American women ever. You said, "I've never seen myself represented in that body of government. Today that changes." What is your number one mission in this job? DEB HAALAND (D), NEW MEXICO CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT: Thank you so much

for having me. Well, gosh, I am -- it's exciting, of course. And it's humbling to feel like both Sharice and I we broken this particular glass ceiling 50 years ago. The first African-American woman was elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm.