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Pelosi's First T.V. Interview Since Dems Won Back House; Pelosi Confident About Return to Speaker Role. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 8, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, sir. Anderson, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader, she is smack in the middle of just about every pressing political question on the table right now. And she is going to give you her answers to many of those tonight.

Will Congress take up mass shootings, the real deal about real deals to be made with Trump? How much will Democrats go after the President on his taxes and the many concerns with his administration?

She also takes on the Sessions' firing and the appointment of Matthew Whitaker. And she does not like it. The question there, what is she planning to do about it? And of course the biggest question right now is whether or not she thinks she can face down any head winds and get that speaker's gavel. You have not heard her answer that answer the way she will now. It's time to test my friends. Let's get after it.

January 3rd, that's the big day. That's when the 116th Congress is going to convene. Democrats will be in control of the House for the first time in eight years. Nancy Pelosi is arguably the most important Democrat in the country tonight. She could be speaker again. But she's going to have to fight for it like never before. So where is her head on all that matters? See for yourself.


CUOMO: Madam Leader, it's good to have this opportunity.


CUOMO: We are living a moment of history. However, we are revisited by something that's been too common.


CUOMO: Your home state of California, another mass shooting, another dozen lives lost. This time it seems to involve a veteran. Do you believe there's any real chance of bipartisan action from Congress that will help address why we have these shootings?

PELOSI: I do. First, let me join you in expressing sorrow over this mass shooting and the loss of the sheriff and every other life that was lost there. I do believe, because in this Congress, the one that we're in right this minute, there is bipartisan legislation to have common sense background checks, to prevent guns going into the wrong hands. Now, it doesn't cover everything, but it is, it will save many lives -- bipartisan legislation.

We've asked the speaker to bring it to the floor. It has bipartisan support. It would win, but he wouldn't bring it to the floor.


PELOSI: You'd have to ask him. I think he doesn't bring it to the floor because he knows it would pass. And therefore, this will be a priority for us in the next Congress.

CUOMO: Knowing it would pass -- if there's bipartisan support, why would anybody not want it to pass?

PELOSI: Well, that's -- we had bipartisan support for the Dreamers here. We had bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform. We have bipartisan support from anything -- for Equality Act to -- and discrimination against LGBTQ community -- but they just won't bring up the bill.

But we will now that we have the majority.

CUOMO: You think you can get it past a Senate in its new configuration?

PELOSI: Well, again -- President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything, with it you can pass, you can do almost anything with that, or practically nothing. And I do believe that our strength is in the public involvement.

CUOMO: It was no surprise that the President of the United States would try to distract from the big win for your party, in the House. But when that came in the form of a big move of firing Jeff Sessions and putting in as acting A.G. Mr. Whitaker, do you see this as a move not just to distract from politics, but to interfere with the Mueller probe?

PELOSI: I think the latter is the primary purpose is to interfere with the Mueller purpose. The timing of that, the Mueller investigation -- the timing of it, of course, to distract from the big defeat that the president suffered in terms of our taking the House.

CUOMO: So there was a political motivation, you say, but do you believe it's constitutional, what happened with the Attorney General Jeff Sessions? What's your concern here?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, I think that he has been outspoken in saying that he wanted to curtail the Mueller investigation, that it should be curtailed. But Article 1, Section -- Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution says that principals in our government, like the attorney general, has to be -- they have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The president appoints with advice and consent -- with the confirmation of the Senate -- that didn't happen. It's not occurring -- and we've seen some of the quotes today that this appointment makes a mockery of the Constitution and the vision of our Founders.

CUOMO: What's your concern about the move politically and what can you do about it?

PELOSI: Well, what we can do about -- our concern is, of course, that they will interfere and say the president's above the law. Our -- what we can do about it is what many of our chairmen and our ranking members now soon to be chairmen in the House, have sent a letter saying we must preserve the documents of the Mueller investigation. We must preserve the -- the preservation of the documents is essential.

Leader Schumer and I early on have called upon our leadership counterparts in the Congress, the Speaker and Leader, Mitch McConnell, to include in one of our appropriations bill, legislation that would say that the -- a counsel like Mueller could not, just generally, doesn't name him, counsels cannot be fired if they are -- without due cause, if they are, they have the opportunity to go to a panel of judges to review the cause of it.

[21:05:22] If that happens and they are dismissed, they cannot be replaced unless by someone who has been confirmed by the Senate.

CUOMO: Is there any sign that you have that McConnell would ever go for something like that?

PELOSI: I would hope so, but again, public sentiment is everything. This is really important for us to let the -- who knows what Mueller will come up with? We don't. None of us have any knowledge of --

CUOMO: But you do know that public sentiment is not that great when it comes to the Mueller probe. Many people see it as politically motivated.

PELOSI: No, well I do think, I do think everybody cares about our Constitution. And when they see this is -- this is a perilously constitutional moment. I don't say it's a constitutional crisis quite yet, but it's a perilous time, and we will see tonight people in the streets because of this firing.

But should the president go to Rosenstein or Mueller or something like that, it would be even worse.

So, this is a very important moment and I hope the president is not frivolous about it. This person does not -- should not be there because of the statements he's made already. The fact that it is constitutionally on weak ground is another reason he should -- there are plenty of qualified people he could name, who could be confirmed.

CUOMO: Constitutional issue is one thing. But in terms of him having an opinion, you don't have to recuse yourself because you have opinions on something. It's that you would have an involvement in the matter that you have to oversee. That's why Session saw his way clear to recusing himself.

Mr. Whitaker having opinions about the probe -- that's not disqualifying (INAUDIBLE) --

PELOSI: Well, he should subject himself to the same scrutiny that Attorney General Sessions did, which is the ethics office in the Justice Department and they can tell him, because they know more than I can even say here about why he may -- should recuse himself.

CUOMO: Big victory for the Democrats.


CUOMO: The House.

Arguably, big victory for the president as well, with what he did in the Senate. Everywhere he went in that Senate, he wound up having some type of success.

Do you believe that there was also validation, as there was clearly, for the Democrats and millions more people came out and voted against this president and what he represents them for -- but he wound up taking seats in the Senate that some people didn't think he would get.

Do you think there was a show of strength by president as well on that regard?

PELOSI: I don't think there's any symmetry here. I think that taking back the House -- you have to remember that we -- when people ask is it a wave, a tsunami -- 23 votes was a wave, when you talk about the gerrymandered climate, territory that we had to contend in; very gerrymandered and from the start people said, oh, that's interesting, but you can't win because of gerrymandering -- and we, of course, had leapfrogged over all of those bad lines and win and then not only win, but win much more -- nice to see how many more we will win, as these votes are finalized. Now that was very big.

Now don't forget the governors. My response there is win the House for the Democrats, I'm very proud of the work that we all did. Ben Lujan, our chairman, magnificent, but -- and that was our responsibility and very important to get that gavel for the balance of power -- people, authority and our Constitution.

If the president wants to take heart and think that there was some -- something similar between our victory and his, let him think that. But the fact is that the demographics of who voted, the number of people who voted -- it's a brilliant future for the Democrats and that was spelled out yesterday.

CUOMO: Understood.

PELOSI: And the Senate. Now the advantage they had with our tough races of this time. They have that disadvantage next time in a presidential year.

CUOMO: Between now and 2020, we all know and everybody's hoping that Justice Ginsburg is okay.

PELOSI: Oh, yes -- CUOMO: So, certainly, nobody's tougher than she is.

PELOSI: That's right.

CUOMO: They call her the Notorious RGB for a reason.

PELOSI: I can attest to that.

CUOMO: But it is a nod to her advanced age. And a little bit of a physical frailty, if nothing else. He has, in the Senate, an easy pass to confirmation.

PELOSI: Mm-hmm.

CUOMO: Any judge he wants to put up.

How concerned are you about the president's ability to get any judge that he wants, if Justice Ginsburg should decide to step away?

PELOSI: Well, I don't think Justice Ginsburg will step away. Let's not even predicate anything on that. Many people have thought that in the past and Justice Ginsburg is serving honorably in the Supreme Court.

[21:10:09] I do think that if the president has any appointment, for whatever reason, not Justice Ginsburg, that he should support someone who supports the Constitution of the United States. He's won the election. You expect that he will have people hear his views -- overturn Roe v. Wade, guns, immigration, marriage equality -- name any issue; it's not a good place for people who are concerned about this.

CUOMO: Well, he's going off a list that the Federalist Society gave him.

PELOSI: No, I understand that.

CUOMO: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh.

PELOSI: But in the Kavanaugh situation, we don't have to go too far down that path, because that's done. He proclaimed that the president is above the law.

CUOMO: Let's talk about what you can get done. This call from the president to you -- my reporting suggests that he called and you said, Nancy, I want to make deals. I'll make any kind of deals, I'm here to make deals, we should make deals.

Is that your recollection of how the call went?

PELOSI: Well, I don't know if he said deals. It was very noisy in the room. There was a jubilant, jubilant crowd in that room celebrating our taking back the House, with the American --

CUOMO: Well played, Madam Leader.

PELOSI: -- for the American people. CUOMO: You could hear over the throng of enthusiasm from your victory.

PELOSI: I heard the word --

CUOMO: What did you hear on the call?

PELOSI: I heard the word "infrastructure" -- that came through clearly. But he said that, you know, let's talk how we -- I'm sure we can come to agreement on some things, and we have an obligation to try to find common ground.

CUOMO: Would you come to agreements with this president? Would you work with him to pass legislation or do you believe, as many in your party do, that you need to be a check on him; you need to investigate him in the main and keep him from doing the things that he wants?

PELOSI: Well, part of what you said, we are -- it is our constitutional responsibility to be a check on the executive branch and we have the responsibility to have oversight on the agencies of the executive branch and there will still be intent to implement that. And that shouldn't be -- cause for him of any concern, because that's the regular order.

CUOMO: But it certainly would. And if there's any investigating done of him, I mean, you heard what he said --


CUOMO: -- even on a day when he said he wanted to be better and change tone. He said, if they investigate me, I'll investigate them. And we both know, he will not come to the table with any deals if he feels that he's being investigated.

PELOSI: I -- let's hope that the level of maturity here will set in, because the American people expect results. And they don't expect him to say if we have oversight -- which is the legitimate -- I'm an appropriator, that's one of the places I was forged in the Congress as well as on the Intelligence Committee.

And we had oversight over what the federal government did, in terms of appropriations, in terms of the funding; what we were getting for the taxpayers' dollars -- was it worth it? And should we be doing something differently?

So that's our responsibility. They (ph) expect us to relinquish our responsibility.

I think what he -- what he's afraid of any personal investigation of him and I think Democrats will be -- just wait to see what Mueller comes up with and we'll go from there. But he has no right to threaten and say I'm not going to cooperate with them.

CUOMO: Do you think you can trust him to tell you something, own it, stand behind it and follow it when he just finished a campaign where he was clearly out to get you. PELOSI: Well, I --

CUOMO: Clearly trying to tie with problems in the Democratic side. Can you work with that?

PELOSI: Well, let me say that I will be the speaker of the People's House and the people will hear the commitments that he makes. And they'll see whether he will, can be trusted in that regard. I hope so, because as we go forward, we want, as I said, an open Congress, a bipartisan Congress, a unifying Congress.

We're not here to divide. We're here to unify.

But if he makes a commitment and that's in the public domain and I think that's how we negotiate --

CUOMO: It happened with immigration. The big meeting, all the smiley faces, love-love-love-love -- and then he comes away, not long after and saying the Democrats won't do it; they tricked me, you can't trust them.

PELOSI: Yes, well -- that leads to the question, who's in charge there? As he's making a commitment and then he reverses it -- is he really calling the shots? I think that on the immigration issue, that's so political with him.

CUOMO: Now you said there, in the context of answer -- I'll be the speaker --


CUOMO: I'll be the people's speaker.

PELOSI: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: What is your level of confidence that you'll be the Speaker of the House?

PELOSI: Total.

CUOMO: A hundred percent.

PELOSI: A hundred percent, yes. I sent out my letter last night, because I didn't ask anybody for support, because I was too busy winning an election and I didn't think it was appropriate to ask members or candidates then. And how it works is the caucus nominates someone --


PELOSI: -- and then they go to the floor and the floor vote --

CUOMO: Do you think there will be another nominee other than you?

PELOSI: Doesn't matter. I've had a nominee every time, except maybe the very first time. CUOMO: Yes, I don't think there was one the first time.


PELOSI: The first time -- but every other time, I've had an opponent.

[21:15:00] CUOMO: You don't think that you'll have to deal with unusual opposition?

PELOSI: If I do, I mean, that's politics. I mean, this is not a day at the beach. This is politics.

And here I am; we've delivered the victory because we had the best possible candidates. And we had the best possible candidates who inspired the grassroots. We owned the ground. And all of the organizations, whether it's about protect our care, protect our environment, all of those organizations worked to elect these people and they want to see results and we have to get moving with that.

So, without getting into the -- making a sausage around here -- I feel very confident about where I am and I feel very encouraged by the overwhelming support in my caucus that we'll go to the floor.

CUOMO: Now as we both know and the audience should know -- I've known you most of my life.


CUOMO: And I wonder, with all that you've done and all that you've achieved, is there any part of you that says, yes, I'm about to dive into what may well be the most contentious and difficult period of your public life? If you are speaker of the House right now, being set up, as we saw in the paper this morning, in direct opposition to the most powerful man in the world and somebody who fights in a way that we haven't seen --

PELOSI: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: -- recently in politics, do you have any reservations about whether or not you want this in your life at this point?

PELOSI: No, none whatsoever. In fact, it's an urgency that I can't resist. I mean, if Hillary Clinton had won, my -- our Affordable Care Act would be protected and I could go home. I mean, no one in California ever gets Potomac fever. We always want to go home.

But that didn't happen, sadly, for our country. So this is something that I feel that I've -- all of my experience is geared to, all of my legislative --

CUOMO: Do you think you can handle Trump on a regular basis? The way he is, as personal as it can be, as constant as the attacks can be?

PELOSI: You know, I've been the workhorse and people say, well, you're not a show horse. Well, I'm happy to be a workhorse and a show horse now, because I'll be center stage. But all of these candidates, all of our incumbents, they'll be taking

their message home. The public will see, the public will see what this discussion is about, where we have our agreements and we have our disagreements and what it means in their lives.

CUOMO: A couple questions. What your message is to your party and then to the president and his party.

Your party first. People come to you, you become speaker --


CUOMO: -- and they say, we've got to try to impeach this president. Democrats demand it from us all over the country -- he's done this, he's done this, he's done this -- impeach, impeach, impeach, we have to probe, and we've got to get the taxes, we have to get after him, now's our chance. Now is our chance, Madam Speaker.

What do you say to those?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, what is the motivation? I don't think we should impeach a president for political reasons. But I don't think we should not impeach him because we think it's politically impeding for us to do so. We have to see what the facts are.

But you know what? There weren't need to impeach to President George W. Bush for going into Iraq. I've never really been completely made well with certain elements on the left, not impeaching the president -- for representing to the -- misrepresenting to the country -- maybe he didn't, but his administration did -- misrepresenting -- I knew, I was the Adam Schiff of the time --

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

PELOSI: Not as great as Adam, but I was the Adam Schiff of the time. I had all the intelligence, and I knew that there was no justification to go into Iraq and I said at the time, the intelligence does not support the threat.

Are you calling the president a liar? I said, no, I'm stating a fact and that is the fact. So --

CUOMO: So you think you can deal with that type of push?

PELOSI: I do. I think the fact that, as I am advertised in the Republican as a San Francisco liberal, which I'm proud to be -- as that, the San Francisco values of St. Francis of Assisi, which I'm proud to be an instrument of God's deed, that because I am a liberal --

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

PELOSI: -- that I have a good, shall we say, communication in our ranks on it.

That doesn't mean that people won't be calling for it, but it does me that we have to produce results for the American people. That's why we have our "For the People" agenda. Lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks, integrity in government -- that that's where we're going.

Guns, Dreamers, equality Act, that would be some of our priorities. If there's evidence that the president should be impeached, it should be self-evident to the public in a bipartisan way. Impeachment is --

CUOMO: Sure.

PELOSI: -- any removal from office --

CUOMO: Ideally, it would be, because otherwise you might get it through the House with your numbers, but you'd never get it through the Senate -- and what do you have going into 2020?

PELOSI: Well, you remember that President Nixon was not impeached.

CUOMO: That's right.

PELOSI: They just went to see him and said they showed him the goods.

CUOMO: That's right. Even when President Clinton went through the House -- as we, I don't have to tell you, didn't make it through the Senate -- what did that wind up meaning politically?

[21:20:04] On the president's side -- Democrats have been quiet about what his signature issue has become -- immigration. There was a little bit -- I'd have to push Democrats to get them to say, yeah, I don't like what he says about the migrants; it's not true.

But you didn't go toe-to-toe with him about having better solutions to keep America safe and how to deal with the border than he has. You say there will be no wall. But should Democrats take the fight to the president and the American people and say, we have a better plan to keep you safe, here is that plan?

PELOSI: My suggestion to all of our campaigns -- incumbents and newcomers -- was stick with lower healthcare costs, bigger paychecks and integrity in government. That's going to enable us to do what we need to do on immigration. Do not get engaged in a fight on immigration, where the president is not telling the truth to the American people -- where they're taking babies out of the arms of their mothers --

CUOMO: Isn't that exactly a reason to get involved? He's lying about the migrants, what's happening with the kids.

PELOSI: No. Not in a campaign. Now.

CUOMO: Now you'll get into --

PELOSI: It's about time. I mean, it's about timing. Now we can talk about how we can come together and put together bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. It passed the Senate, in a bipartisan way, a few years ago, but again, the speaker would not bring it up in the House. That was really a very sad thing for our country, that they would not bring it up because --

CUOMO: Do you think something happens on immigration?

PELOSI: Democrats have to assert, as we always have, know we have to protect our borders. Our responsibility is to protect and defend. We take an oath when we get sworn into office to protect and defend.

We have to protect in a way that protects our borders and honors our values, and also recognizes there are 11 million people in this country that we have to address in terms of legalization and perhaps a path -- and I believe a path to citizenship. It would be good for our economy.

When we've had some conversations and panels on the subject of the economy, what one thing could you do to boost the economy that's different from what you're hearing? Comprehensive immigration reform.

So, this is a bigger discussion about immigration than about a president using it as a fear tactic of a thousand miles away. How many will reach here? How many really qualify for asylum under our laws?

The evangelicals -- the evangelicals are great on immigration. They testify to us that America's -- the United States Refugee Resettlement Program is the crown jewel of American humanitarianism. And here it's being trashed by the president. This is the Evangelicals.

CUOMO: And that is the starting point of the new normal. Now that the Democrats have power in the House, we'll see how it's used, we'll see what it does for the American people.

Madam Leader --

PELOSI: But we want to unify, not divide.

CUOMO: Everybody says it; let's see how it gets done.

PELOSI: That's our intention. We're here for the American people, not for just the Democrats.

Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Thank you for taking the opportunity. Good luck going forward.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.


CUOMO: I told you Nancy Pelosi was going to put a lot on the table. And she did.

Now, what does her message mean? I have a great panel for you. We'll going to get into it. We'll going to figure out what is code, what is real, where it goes. Look at this talent. We'll be right back.


[21:26:26] CUOMO: There was an unusual amount of chatter among Democrats about not being for Pelosi in the elections. That's the truth. But the reality is most of the candidates who came out strong against Nancy Pelosi did not win their races. So to me the question of whether or not Pelosi is going to be speaker again, it's not as tough to deal with as what she will do with all that power. And I have an excellent group to really dig into where the House goes from here.

M.J. Lee, Manu Raju and Charles Blow, it's great to have you all. Let's start this just in terms of present sense impression. You heard the interview. What's your take away?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, this is a very confident Nancy Pelosi. She comes out of this election with the big list of things that she wants to see accomplished. She knows full weld the realities in Washington. There are significant limits on what can be accomplished with a Democrat House and with Republican Senate.

She talked about doing things on gun control. That's not going to get out of a Republican Senate. She talked about trying to a bill to protect the special counsel, even adding it -- must pass spending bill by the end of the year potentially, not going to happen with this Republican Senate. She knows that full well. What we're probably going to see is a lot of investigations.

She suggested oversight. She's trying to tamp down talk of any impeachment and also making it very clear that all these detract ors, there are handful detractors in our caucus will not be powerful, not to stop her from getting the speakership come January when that ultimate vote comes down the floor but the ultimate question will be the math on that specific aspect.

CUOMO: Right. M.J., you see the balancing act going on, right? I call it crudely so. Deal making versus ball breaking.


CUOMO: And she's light on this second one, this other side of the scale. Don't talk about impeachment, shouldn't do it just for political purposes, oversight, yes. But she knows that with this particular president it won't be seen as oversight. It will be seen as an over attack.

LEE: Well, and the big irony about Nancy Pelosi is that there's a view of her out in the country that she is this extreme liberal and in part because Republicans have tried very hard to pin her that way but, you know, Manu, you know this better than anybody else, when you look at her record and the work that he has done on Capitol Hill, over the many years she have been there, the thing that she is actually best known for, for the people who have followed her closely is that she is a pragmatist that she is someone who is very skilled at getting to 218 votes. And that is why she knows she doesn't want to start this new session

with Democrats controlling the House out there saying they want to get after impeachment and the path that they want to focus on first because she knows that's not really politically viable at least not right now.

So we're going to see this clash for House Democrats as they take on this new power between what they sort of want to do to come across as a governing party, right? Do they want to try to tackle things like infrastructure, lowering drug prices, things that they really think that they can get some buy in from Republicans on but then, the Trump accountability piece of it, right? Like you said, wanting to uphold these investigations, throw out some subpoenas and try to really hold accountable to people that are close to Trump and Trump himself possibly, but those things are definitely going to clash.

CUOMO: Right.

LEE: And when the second piece of it creates such a toxic environment, even more toxic I think than what we're seeing now, will Republicans on Capitol Hill feel so much pressure to not look as though they're reaching out to the other side and cooperating with Democrats.

CUOMO: Charles?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, first I think what you're seeing is that the American government is about to grind to a halt again.

[21:30:04] CUOMO: Oh, you think so?

BLOW: Absolutely. And I think that what Nancy's doing is positioning a messaging campaign about what the priorities that the Democrats will set, not believing that they'll ever be passed by the Senate, as you guys said but that's not the point at this. I mean, this is about how do you set up for the next wave when the Senate map is much more favorable to the Democrats than this year and when the president will actually be on the ballot and not just saying that he's on the ballot like he did.

And how you do that is that you put forth, pass legislation even if it doesn't make it through the Senate but these are Democrat priorities and this is what I believe it and you don't shrink away -- and I don't think she was saying, she is going to do, if you don't shrink away from your constitutional responsibility of oversight.

CUOMO: Right.

BLOW: She kept saying that. And I think it's really important for all of us as Americans to remember this is not on the about Trump and it's not only about Pelosi. This is about how the constitution says that the House Representative should operate. They have to do this. We can't worry -- we talk and tell preemptively about whether he's going to get angry. He's been angry. He's going to stay angry. He's going to get angrier. I don't think we appreciate the degree to which this man probably wakes up every single day worrying about his freedom, and his family, their state, their wealth and his reputation. That is all consuming to him.

In the same way that this Russian investigation is all presume at the Mueller, we get in and out of it, Mueller wakes up in the morning every day thinking about who he's going to call before a grand jury, what piece does that match with, what am I eventually going to do? This is a big thing. And this is not a president who is going to act like politicians of the past.

CUOMO: That's true. But this will be the first time, Manu, he has a real foe.

RAJU: Yes.

CUOMO: Nancy Pelosi is kind of like a tasty cake, you guys are young, remember tasty cake, all the good things wrapped up in one. She has all the problems for Trump wrapped up in one. She's a woman. She's a better politician than he is. And she will fight you 24/7, 365 in ways you're never imagine and she is to take charge this phrase, deep in and deep out kind of guy.

MANU: Yes.

CUOMO: She knows nothing but focus.

MANU: And the challenge though for her is that the size of her majority and where these members in her caucus, particularly new members come from a lot of them. They come from more Republican districts. There will be more blue dog, Democrats in there.

Do they want to go toe to toe with the president the way that Pelosi and most of the liberals in this caucus who still dominate this caucus, will she listen to those moderate members who want to put the breaks on some of these issues or will they put her foot on the gas to piece for base. That's going to be constant pinch and she is going to have to deal with it. And right now, the majorities, 225 Democratic seats, 200 Republican seats pinned outstanding and you need 218 votes to get anything through the House. So that's a pretty narrow majority that she has. She can't afford a lot of losses on the House floor and the big question will be if she can maintain that majority going into 2020 and save those same Republican.

CUOMO: All right. So let's leave it there. Let's take a break. We'll come back. Please stay with me and let's talk about what we believe and from what we know, our collective sourcing on it is going to be the first step for her. What's the first big battle? We'll going to take that on right after this.


[21:37:00] CUOMO: All right. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, right? Because the story about what the Democrats will do with their new found power jumps ahead of well, how much power do they have? Tonight, the narrative could be changing in two states that Trump won. The election is not over, so one of them is Arizona. There you remember you have the Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, she is now

leading Republican Martha McSally in the battle for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake. That was a long time coming. All thought, you know, the election we're looking, we thought that the last big county, Maricopa County really only had vote density left for McSally. Turns out, that was wrong. In Florida Governor Rick Scott holds a racer thin lead in the Senate race.

Now, listen to this -- this is the latest turn, Scott is suing alleging rampant fraud. He says Democrats are trying to steal the election. All right, we got the right panel for this tonight. Let's bring back M.J. Lee, Manu Raju and Charles Blow.

Let's set this up Charles with what Rick Scott -- look, you know, during election we were saying I'm surprised this is pretty clean. Pretty big race, you know, whatever happened happened. There's none of the ugliness that we expected about the fraud. Or what I called the fugazy fraud. But now Rick Scott is making the play. Listen to what he said.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA SENATE NOMINEE: The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency and the supervisors are failing to give it to us. Every Floridian should be concerned there maybe rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach, in Broward Counties.


CUOMO: Every resident should be concerned that there is rampant fraud going on their communities. Not subtle.

BLOW: Yes, but prove it. I mean, that's what lawsuits are about, right? So now that you move it into a legal reading, you have to actually produce some proof and he needs to prove that. What we see proof of is the exact opposite of what this probably, which is actually voter suppression, not fraud. And -- so if he has it, I actually I'm very curious and I'm interested in and as an American and as a voter, I want there to be no fraud.

CUOMO: Sure.

BLOW: But I have yet to hear any of these Republicans who say that there's rampant fraud in America, including the president, find proof of it. Prove it.

LEE: And everything about this is political to point out the obvious. The fact that he is singling out Palm Beach County and Broward County, that is not a mistake. That is political. He knows very well that those are very heavily Democrat counties for him to go out there and now say if there could be fraud. I think you're totally right there has to be a little more meat on the bones.

And, you know, Scott won both of his governor races I think it's worth us remembering something might -- by a single percentage point, so it's not as though it's so ludicrous this idea that he might be in a close race in the Senate. He's had tough races before and he knows that too.

CUOMO: Now, and when you hear this, Manu, do you want to give the governor the benefit of the doubt? Maybe he knows something, maybe he'll bring it out but then something else happens that really takes away from the benefit of the doubt. What is that? Same thing that always happens, the president just tweeted about it. Put it up.

[21:40:03] Law enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with election fraud in Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott. So once again, you know, this is everything that you shouldn't have in a tweet. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He could, right? He's got access to the best investigators in the government. He could find things out. That's not what he's doing it. He's watching Fox. And he is saying, law enforcement. It's a scandal he's calling it already. We don't know that. We don't know the information is. And he's saying that Scott won. The impact?

RAJU: Yes. I mean, in the Brad Parscale, his campaign manager also tweeted that it wasn't just Florida that was the effort of Democrats allegedly to steal the election, but also Arizona without offering any proof of that.

Now, the real issue is that there's significant concern within the Republican Party that these seats, particularly Arizona, could go Democrat. And that was not the viewpoint out of the conventional wisdom after Tuesday night. There is -- I was talking to Republicans and Democrats tonight. They don't know where either of these races are going.

And it's so significant, each Senate seat so significant. We could be talking about either 54/46 Republican Senate or 51/49 Republican Senate. That's a massive shift. And also depending on the margin it will make it easier or harder for the Democrats to take back to Senate in 2020. That's why this is so significant how this play out in those couple of week.

CUOMO: Political malpractice what we just saw from Scott and the president?

BLOW: Well, I think whenever you offer a statement or accusation like that and you offer no proof of it, you're abusing your power and the bully pulpit that you get from the officer. You're abusing the press in a way because -- then we have this story around -- I'm trying to figure out this truth in it. This is sucking away resources from all the other things that we could and should be starting light now television only has 24 hours in the day. People sleep eight of those hours. There's only so much you can --

CUOMO: I wish.

BLOW: And then -- and he comes out and says this and now we have to take a part of this program.

CUOMO: Right.

BLOW: This is a tactic, right?

CUOMO: Sure.

BLOW: This idea of using information as a weapon -- not information, using falsehoods.

CUOMO: They're using suggestions.

BLOW: Conspiracies --


BLOW: -- as a tactic, as a weapon.


BLOW: As a tactic.

CUOMO: And look, it is and look we saw the White House Press Secretary put out InfoWars information. All right, I mean, that Jackass on InfoWars they took his video and wanted to use it. You don't need to know anything else. In fact, I think it's frankly a waste of time. If there's no proof we only know what you show. Everything else is a scary tactic. I'm not going to waste your time. Manu, thank you very much.

M.J., you're laughing at me. That's OK. It's a common experience. Charles, always good to see you, my friend.

All right, something else that you may have noticed is missing in the news cycle. And it was all over the place building up to the election. You should not worry about anything else but this, national emergency. You're like what? Exactly. Where's the invasion? Where's the emergency? Get to the border! Grab your loved ones! We know what it was about. Let's do that next.


[21:47:09] CUOMO: Don't Be a Sucker. That propaganda film that warned Americans of communist conspiracy theories in the '40s that phrase needs to b revived. And here is why, before the midterms, the president couldn't lie to you enough about the urgency and complexity about the caravan. An invasion that had women clutching their paddy coats out of fear. No wonder he got claver by women voter playing in that way. And it was the same from the mothership Fox but now crickets, nothing but a passing Minchin (ph) about the caravan from the Trump through last night. The caravan has caravanished.

Credit Susan (inaudible), writer on Cuomo Prime Time.

Great line, not mine but I take it in my show.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I see what you did.

CUOMO: It wasn't me. It was Susan. Great line, so --

LEMON: D. Lemon is here. Go on.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, I'm grad you're not hiding. I know you were afraid about the caravan. I told it was going to be OK. Just like that with the election?

LEMON: Listen, I don't watch enough to know how much they're covering it. But I do have, you know, have all the networks on in my office and I just remember when I would look up every single night and see, so the caravan is coming and these people are coming. And they're going to be take your jobs and they're going to be doing all this. And it's like -- and now you don't hear anything. And then they've gone back to their old thing of sort of demonizing us, right?


LEMON: CNN is doing this. MSNBC is doing that. It's like they have to have a foil. But to be quite honest we told you -- the people that are called fake news told you that you were being played. That these people post no immediate threat being thousands of miles away, or hundreds of miles away, there was no immediate threat. And you know what gets me yesterday when the president said we don't want people -- those people coming in illegally. We don't want them breaking the law. Right away stop them and say, they're not breaking the law. What they're doing is actually they're doing it right. They're coming here -- they're claiming political asylum. We get to decide if they want to come in or not.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Now, some of them may try to come over illegally.

CUOMO: They might.

LEMON: They might. But for the most part if they're telling you we're on the way, we're going to come in and we're going to claim political asylum. That is actually the process. So most people they bought it hook line and single, people brought, oh my gosh we should be putting a barb wire, don't you want to be --

CUOMO: Some people did. Some people took it as fuel for their own fire righteous ignition against the Trump administration. He got shellacked in the vote across the country. He lost this popular vote by more votes than he did in 2016.

The real problem is the caravan is coming.


CUOMO: You are going to have a big, big population of migrants coming here. Are you ready to handle it? The president is not talking about that. He's not talking about this plan. And I'll tell you why. One reason other than him, deepen in and out of things out of convince, you need Mexico to deal with this effectively.

LEMON: Right. CUOMO: Because really, ideally you want to deal with this before they enter the United States. Why? A lot of the claims may not be sufficient. The volume is a lot. You are going to have problems with tracking, there's no question about that, but you don't have the relationship with them right now to have them be accommodative of this because of the way the president has treated them.

[21:50:13] LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: So his talk is a problem two different ways.

LEMON: Well, that is a problem when you don't really have a conviction, right? When you go back between being a Democrat or Republican or saying you're going to do one thing one day and then do another thing the other day.

And it's also -- let's be honest here. I mean, he needs a foil. Right? So whatever is politically convenient or expedient for him that's where he goes. It worked to stir up his base that oh, my gosh, these scary people are coming. And so now that he -- whatever happened during the midterms, he doesn't really have to discuss it now.

But I tell you what? This is role reversal because I'm going to say to you something that you would say since you're always looking at the positive side more than I am. We're the United States of America. I think that we can handle people coming over in any way that they come over if we put our attention and efforts to it.

CUOMO: If Congress looked at it --


CUOMO: -- because there are situations you have to deal with. You don't want to separate kids from parents, fine. But you need time to process these people coming. If you want to keep families together you have to change the law to deal with it effectively. I'm very happy for the opportunity to go over things. She says they have a plan. That has to be part of the plan and we need to hear about it sooner rather than later. Will we? We'll see. But we'll be watching.

LEMON: Recount, recount, recount.


LEMON: It's getting interesting in Florida and in Georgia. You won't believe how close it is, and it keeps changing every minute. We're going to be focusing on that tonight coming up.

CUOMO: Smart. All right, D. Lemon, I'll see you in a second.


CUOMO: All right. So, the closing argument is about something we just don't want to deal with but we see all the time. And shame on us. Supermarket, synagogue, yoga studio, bar. It's just in the last two weeks. All mass shootings. What will it take for us to actually make it stop? We've already seen what it will be. I have a closing argument for you on this. Please listen, and then come back to me and let's discuss. Next.


[21:55:58] CUOMO: Quick note about how good my team is. So I say my Susan -- my writer Susan came up with a line. She says it wasn't me. She wants to say it was the broadcast producer Vaughn. He says well, maybe it was Lila. Look how they share. How lucky am I, huh? That's the good news. I'm blessed to have great people around me.

But now let's deal with something that is such a curse on us all. In California we just had an historic shooting. It was the worst mass shooting in a week. Think about that. 12 lives stolen by a thief that visits us weekly.

This is our new normal. Broken families, survivors processing their pain, coming on TV in a genuine effort to let us know who was lost and to remind us of the price we are all so damnably willing to pay.

And I've been there, staring into these searching eyes dozens of times in more states than that, and all too often loved ones in their search for meaning they arrive at the obvious realization. We have to stop this from happening to anyone else. We all say yes, we join you. 80 percent to 90 percent plus in poll after poll agree that who gets a gun should be handled better.

And then you go vote this past Tuesday in the midterms and the issue is nowhere. No one even really ran on it. And if you won't vote on it, if it's not your priority, if you can't own that part of it, how can you convince anyone in power to care about it? You can't. And when we say the obvious, stop the damn shootings, soon as you say that it's like hiking the ball in a football game. The NRA scrambles to reinforce the status quo. No law would have changed this. Good guys with the guns, that's the answer.

Look at all the laws in California. This is about mental illness if it's about anything. And we're all on board with being a part of addressing that, as long as it has nothing to do with restricting access. And if you push any of their tendencies on this, you will get the ugliest side of political discourse imaginable. Equal outrage on both sides. There is no other side to stop the shootings any way you can.

Here's the proof. Anyone being honest must answer the central question the same way. And here's the question. Can we do better than this? You know the answer is yes. You know the damn answer is yes. So why don't we? We can't even have a conversation. The only consensus there is in a canard, and here it is.

First, I would like to offer my thoughts and prayers. Because that's what you do when you offer thoughts and prayers. You mock those who lost loved ones. Because if you gave it any thought at all, you would never walk away from any of these without figuring out a better way to deal with them. And prayer.

You think leaving it to God is the answer? We pray for strength, we pray for wisdom, for resolve, but we clearly don't want to act on any of those here. So what are you praying for? What would it take? How about a stadium full of children of the most influential people in our society all holding puppies? What if they were all shot and killed? Would we act? Oh, don't be ridiculous to suggest something -- is it? Is it ridiculous? More ridiculous than doing nothing? Time after time after time? Listening to these people pouring out their pain, crying along with them, saying you care.

You know the answer to the only question that matters. We can do better. And we all have to live with doing nothing. And the next time is coming. And more and more, you, me, our leaders, we're all becoming part of the problem. Think and pray on that.

Thank you for watching. "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: I've been told the Lord helps those who help themselves.