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Georgia Dem Stacey Abrams Files Lawsuit Against Brian Kemp; Gillum Concedes but Wants Recount; Bill Nelson Demands Recount in Florida Senate Race; Concern Over Trump's Acting Attorney General's Ties to Scam Company; Witnesses Describe CA Bar Shooting; Sessions' Firing Could Impact Roger Stone Associate Challenging Mueller Subpoena. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 8, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:35] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Four of the most contentious races in Tuesday's midterm so close that they are still hanging in the balance.

Florida, for example, new numbers just in are within the margins of a recount, which is what Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson have been suggesting. Gillum hiring an attorney who litigated the 2000 Florida recount for President Bush.

And in the Georgia Senate race, Stacey Abrams has not conceded because she said there are tens of thousands of votes that have not been counted.


LAUREN GROH-WARGO, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, ABRAMS FOR GOVERNOR: They need to release all the data, all the numbers, and they need to count every single vote. But you know what? They probably can't because I don't know that they know where all those votes are. And 25,000 votes of nearly four million cast are at issue in this race. By his own admission, there are at least 25,000 outstanding votes, and hundreds, if not thousands of more that we are learning about and discovering every day.


BALDWIN: Abram's opponent, Brian Kemp, is resigning as secretary of state but only because he is declaring himself the governor of Georgia.


BRIAN KEMP, (R), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: We're in court this morning still dealing with a lot of these, quite honestly, ridiculous lawsuits. We are going to continue to fight that. The votes are not there for her. I respect the hard-fought race that she ran. But that's a decision she will have to make. We're -- we've won the race, it's very clear now, and we're moving forward with the transition. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's incredible.

David Chalian is here with me, director of CNN Politics.

David, in Georgia, one side says we won and the other side says, not so fast, there's all these votes to be counted, voter irregularity. How close is to this to a runoff.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Take a look at those numbers. Brian Kemp is 62,000 votes ahead of Stacey Abrams. That's a significant gap there, that 1.6 percent. That is a significant gap. But what you hear the Abrams campaign doing here is saying we don't know the total universe of outstanding votes yet. And until you know that total universe and they are counted, you don't know if that 50.3 percent drops in Kemp's total to something less than 50 percent plus one. Because as you just said, Brooke, that's the key that triggers a runoff race. If Brian Kemp gets below 50 percent plus one, there's a December 4th runoff. That's the rule in Georgia. I know Brian Kemp was out there, he resigned his office, he's trying to express confidence there's nothing to see here and he's moving on with the transition, but until you know the total universe of outstanding vote and what that is and then how those votes break, you don't know if indeed he does have the right threshold. It looks like this would be an uphill climb for the Abrams campaign to get Kemp that low in the vote total, but it's just not a known factor right now.

BALDWIN: What about Florida? What are the margins there?

CHALIAN: This is astonishing. You have the governor's race there, with the latest vote total, the difference you say is .5 percent, it's actually .47. We round up there to .5. That's within the target zone to trigger an automatic recount in the governor's race. Gillum is still 38,000 votes behind DeSantis. That is no small feat for Gillum to make that up. In fact, in the press release, in the statement from the Gillum campaign today that they issued saying every vote needs to be counted, we've hired this lawyer. One thing not in the press release, Andrew Gillum did not rescind his concession. That's why we have it as a checkmark as a DeSantis win. Gillum conceded the race on Tuesday night. They did say that was in a different context, before they knew how much outstanding vote was there. This has now gotten within recount zone.


[14:35:02] BALDWIN: What about the Senate?

CHALIAN: This is more astonishing. CNN has not projected a winner here. 17,344 votes separate Scott and Nelson here of more than eight million votes cast in this race in the state of Florida, Brooke. This is, as you see there, .2 percent difference. We have to see where the final numbers come in. Saturday at noon is the deadline in Florida for all the counties to report and for the secretary of state to issue that initial canvas of what the vote count is, assuming this stays this close, which I've got to believe it's going to, this race is certainly headed for an automatic recount, something that Nelson is eager to get under way and something that the Rick Scott forces are trying to dismiss and want to move on with Governor Scott heading to Washington and preparing to take a Senate seat in January, but this is so close. Everything since Tuesday night has been going Nelson's way here. I never thought we would be talking about Palm Beach county and Broward County and how those ballots were designed and what those totals are.

BALDWIN: Florida, never a dull moment.

Arizona, we know history will be made because they'll have their first female Senator, between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally. Here, close?

CHALIAN: Yes. There's still a chunk of outstanding vote. By our estimate, we think there are some 600,000 votes still outstanding to be counted in this Arizona race. You see that Martha McSally with 17,000 vote lead. We're expecting Maricopa County around Phoenix to report their vote totals later today. That should give as you sense of where this race is headed. Until we have that, we won't know exactly the status of this race.

BALDWIN: Incredible.

David Chalian, thank you for going through all those races.

CHALIAN: Sure. Thank you.

Let's me bring in Steven Mulroy, a former prosecutor who specializes in election law. He helped litigate Florida, the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Professor, welcome.


BALDWIN: I want to begin with Georgia and Team Stacey Abrams. They say not all those votes are counted, flagged these voter irregularities. How strong do you think their case is?

MULROY: I think, Brooke, that the case in Georgia is not as strong for the recount changing the outcome of the election as it would be in either of the two Florida races that you just got done discussing because the margin of victory is larger in that instance. But, as you've already heard, she doesn't need to make up enough votes to actually pull ahead. She just needs to make up enough votes to pull Kemp down below 50 percent, which triggers the runoff and gives her another shot in the electoral process.

BALDWIN: What do you think happens in Florida?

MULROY: Well, in Florida, I think if the lead stays as narrow as it is for Senator Nelson, then under Florida law, there would not only be an automatic machinery count. But an automatic manual recount, which takes longer and is so detailed. Because some of those outstanding votes come from Broward County, it's not implausible that he, Nelson, would be able to pull it out.

BALDWIN: How often do recounts actually change the outcome of an election?

MULROY: Most recounts do not actually change the outcome and most election contests do not succeed. However, it's not freakishly rare for that to occur. As we indicated here, there are some reasons to think that a disproportionate number of the ballots still to be counted might lean Democratic.

[14:39:15] BALDWIN: OK, Steven Mulroy, thank you very.

Coming up next, who is Matthew Whitaker? What we're learning about the new acting attorney general, his public statements criticizing the special counsel, Bob Mueller, and his ties to a Florida company that was shut down, accused of running a scam.


BALDWIN: The president's new acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, is visiting the White House today, amid concerns of his ties to a new scam company shut down earlier this year. World Patent Marketing promised to help inventors get patents. According to the Federal Trade Commission, some customers paid thousands and thousands and got nothing in return. Whitaker served as an advisory board member.

Let's go to CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, Whitaker's involvement in World Patent Marketing, explain that for me.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Brooke, he was quite involved. He was on that 12-member advisory board. It's now shut down. But court documents show he got very involved. In fact, listen to this. In August 2015, Matthew Whitaker sent an e-mail response to a disgruntled customer who complained the company wasn't performing what it promised. In this e-mail exchange, Whitaker accused that customer of an apparent attempt at possible blackmail or extortion and warned the customer that there could be, quote, "serious civil and criminal consequences" if the customer smeared the company online or filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. In that e-mail as well, Whitaker noted first thing he was a form are former U.S. attorney in Iowa. The FTC called the company a scam that bilked thousands of customers out of millions of dollars.

Brooke, in addition, for Democrats calling for Whitaker's recusal from the Russia probe, overseeing the probe, because of his political views, this, his involvement in this company that was eventually shutdown, could really become a flash point.

[14:45:26] BALDWIN: On his involvement, do we know how much he paid for his role there?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it was part of the court documents. They listed month by month, year by year, what he was paid. He was paid near $10 between 2014 and 2016. The court documents showed me was owed $8,000 through 2016 into February 2017. That was right before he started speaking out on CNN, other media outlets, denouncing the Mueller probe, and just a few months before he started working as Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, and that was in October 2017 -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Jessica Schneider, thank you for that.

Coming up next, police have been called to the home of FOX News host, Tucker Carlson, after a group of protesters showed up and shouted threats. We'll tell you what happened.

And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital after falling and breaking three ribs. We have an update on her condition for you coming up.


[14:50:50] BALDWIN: More on the tragedy in Thousand Oaks, California, 12 people killed, a dozen others hurt after a gunman opened fire last night in a bar on college night. Outside the bar, some people describe the sheer hour after this gunman walked in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulances started to arrive and shortly after that we saw four guys carrying another guy, who was bleeding, and they looked pretty exhausted because they had carried him all the way out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw it happen. I literally was like, oh, my gosh. I fell to the floor to get cover. I started crawling on the floor to try to get access to the side exit. Once I saw the door open, I took off running.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got down because I heard people screaming, "Everyone get down." I never experienced this before so I'm going to listen to whatever they tell me to do. Very scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, everyone screamed, "Get down." So everyone on the dance floor ran off the dance floor and ducked behind something or dog piled on the floor somewhere. And -- sorry, I'm freezing and shocked at the same time. And it was somewhat silent for like five seconds and then some kids that were closer to the bar on the side that I was on got up and started running towards back door I was near and he said everyone run, he's coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I run out the front door. I hear chairs being thrown out the window. People were trying to get out the window. And the gun man went behind the cash register. He kept -- there was probably 12 shots before I got out the front door.


BALDWIN: We will talk to him coming up at the top of the hour.

Also ahead, you will hear the powerful, gut-wrenching moments after a father learned his son didn't make it out. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:57:21] BALDWIN: Just in to us here, we're following developments involving a Roger Stone associate, who has been challenging his subpoena issued by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. We're hearing this case could be impacted by the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Let's go to Sara Murray, who is with me outside of federal court there.

Sara, what's the story?

SARA MURRAY, CNN: Brooke, we're here today because one of Stone's associates is trying to quash his subpoena and his lawyers are challenging Mueller's authority on constitutional grounds. It's interesting backdrop to challenge Mueller's authority a day after the attorney general got a new job. At the beginning of the hearing, there were oral arguments for this appeal. One of the judges instructed the attorneys that they had to argue this case as if it was yesterday, before Jeff Sessions was ousted from his position, and before Matt Whitaker was put in charge of the Russia investigation. The judge also said, in light of yesterday's events, they would likely require supplemental briefings. The arguments were a little awkward today because one of the challenges that Andrew Miller's attorney is making is that Mueller is essentially this unsupervised agent with wide prosecutorial power, which is a little bit difficult to argue at this point when he has a new boss -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: I'm sure it is.

Sara Murray, stay on it. Thank you so much.

Let's continue on here.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching CNN this Thursday afternoon. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We start with a community in mourning and showing support for one of their own. Thousand Oaks, California, college night at a local bar, people were out and about, line dancing, listening to country music, when a man holding a handgun walks in and starts shooting people at random. By the time it stopped, 12 were killed and at least 15 more were injured. The gunman was later found dead behind the bar.

On the scene, in two minutes, Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant Ron Helus, who ran into the bar as everyone was trying to run out. He confronted the gunman. A 29-year veteran of the force, who was due to retire, died a hero. Last hour, the body of Sergeant Helus was taken to the medical examiner's office. The procession was lined with officers and firefighters and people who just wanted to show their respect, passing under large American flags hanging over the road.

I talked to one of his colleagues, Sergeant Julie Novak. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE NOVAK, SERGEANT, VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He was talking to his wife and said, I love you, got to go, got a call. He was the sergeant that always responded to calls. And he was always the guy that was first to the calls.