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CNN NEWSROOM

Florida Governor and Senate Races Now within Recount Margin; Justice Ruth Blatter Ginsburg in Hospital with Fractured Ribs; Whitaker Recusal from Mueller Probe Appears Unlikely; Victim's Dad: Last Thing I Said to Him Was I Love You; Antifa Activists at Home of Fox Host Tucker Carlson

Aired November 8, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Check these numbers. This race gets just a little bit closer. So, right now, the spread between Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, the Democratic candidate, and Ron DeSanctis, who is the front runner right now, the Republican candidate, is just a little more than 38,000 votes. And that means the margin of victory right now for Ron DeSanctis is only .47 percent. And in Florida the laws here, state if the margin is less than one half of 1 percent, that triggers an automatic recount.

And here's the thing, Brooke, they are still counting ballots here in Florida, and where they are counting those ballots is in some of the areas that are considered Democratic vote rich. Broward County in particular there are still absentee ballots that need to be counted. There are also provisional ballots that need to be adjudicated. So, this race is far from being over. I should say though, Brooke, that I've been in contact with members of the Gillum campaign since the election results. And keep in mind that the mayor did concede this race on election night and called Ron DeSantis to concede. They remained realistic of their chances to overcome this current vote spread, but they do want to see every single one of these ballots counted so that that their supporters' voices can be heard. And you never know what could happen after all those votes do come in and the recount takes place -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We think that race was close, how about the senate race.

NOBLES: Yes, the senate race is even closer. And that's where Democrats are actually a lot more optimistic that they could flip what we thought was happening on election night. The margin of the difference between the two candidates, the incumbent Bill Nelson and challenger Rick Scott, who is, of course, the current governor, is now only .22 percent. Now that's within an even more important margin, the .25 percent margin. That means if it holds when they finish counting on Saturday, but this will go to an automatic hand recount. That's a much more exhaustive investigation of all the ballots that were counted. And Bill Nelson has brought in a high-powered Democratic lawyer from Washington, D.C. to oversee this recount. Brooke, they believe there are enough votes out there where Bill Nelson could still win this race -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Brian Nobles, thank you very much. We're watching Florida very closely.

Let's move on to Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Proving once again that she is one tough 85-year-old. The Justice fell in her office last night, went home. At some time before sunrise this morning she went to the hospital where it was discovered she had fractured three ribs. With me now, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. My goodness, I mean, she's a tough cookie. I've watched that documentary on her two times. But fractured ribs, how serious is this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, they're very painful, I can tell you. Because I did this recently and I'm in my 40s.

BALDWIN: Did you?

GUPTA: Yes.

BALDWIN: Ouch.

GUPTA: And every time you sneeze or cough, anything, it's like a volcano goes off in your body. It's painful, which is obviously a nuisance. But more to the point, you know, when you're splinting like that, when you have a hard time breathing, taking breaths in, the real concern especially for someone who's in her 80s, is what does that do to your lungs? Does it increase your chance of developing a lung infection? Pneumonia for example, that's one of the concerns. Is she going to need pain medications? Because sometimes you need pain medications. These are commonly broken bones in the elderly. Very, very painful and it takes a while for people to recover. She's done this before by the way. You had mentioned how tough she was.

BALDWIN: Yes.

GUPTA: She's had broken ribs before and recovered from that. Apparently didn't miss a beat the last time this happened. Two ribs that time, three ribs this time.

BALDWIN: Totally is superwoman. She's also, I had realized until I saw her film, beaten cancer not once but twice.

GUPTA: Yes, colon cancer and early pancreatic cancer. She's also had a heart stent put in for a heart related problem. She may have been on blood thinners as a result of that, that heart problem. That's going to be a question I think the doctors are probably sort of digging into now. Does that affect now these broken ribs on the left side. Yes, she's 85 years old, been through these health scares but overall on this end of things is doing pretty well all things considered.

BALDWIN: We wish her well. I never want to know what that feels like, a fractured rib. I take your word for it, Sanjay Gupta, not fun whatsoever, especially at 85 years of age. Also, a reminder you can sign up for Sanjay's weekly newsletter, "The Results Are In", at CNN.com.

GUPTA: Thank you, yes.

BALDWIN: You go it.

GUPTA: Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

As urgent questions rise about the fate of this Mueller investigation, what is behind the President's behavior? Clearly, he's rattled. We're going to talk with Pulitzer prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Jeff Sessions is out, a new acting Attorney General is in, and the fate of special counsel's Russia investigation is increasingly uncertain as Democrats fear the President is trying to stymie Robert Mueller. Sessions replacement, Matt Whitaker has been an enormous critic of Mueller's. Yet sources tell CNN that he will not recuse himself from the investigation. And "The Washington Post" reports, if any subpoena is filed against the President, he would reject it. With me now CNN political analyst, Carl Bernstein. Carl, good to see you. All right, so just shy of firing Mueller, is this the second-best thing that the President could do to clamp down on this investigation?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It might be even better from the President's point of view because it's within the scope of his legal authority, even though what it really represents is a coup by the President of the United States against administration of justice and rule of law in the United States.

[15:40:00] It is a presidential coup against the fair administration of justice. And he's done it in such a way that sure, he has the authority to appoint anybody in the executive branch. But the purpose of this appointment is to undermine the special counsel's investigation, to bury it, to manipulate it, to make sure that he controls it. And that he does not have the authority to do under our constitutional system.

BALDWIN: The husband of one of the President's top aides has written this "New York Times" opinion piece where he calls of this unconstitutional. This is George Conway, who is married to Kellyanne. He wrote, "It means that President Trump's installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It's illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, and that position is invalid.

Again, the husband of one of the President's top aides calling it unconstitutional.

BERNSTEIN: I'm not a constitutional lawyer though I've covered the courts. And I'm not about to go into the question --

BALDWIN: I'm not asking you about the Constitution.

BERNSTEIN: Of the constitutionality of it.

BALDWIN: It's George Conway writing in the Times

BERNSTEIN: What we need to be concerned about is a "rageoholic" President that we saw yesterday, out of control, who has no understanding of the importance and primacy of the rule of law in our system. And when that is obliterated by a President of the United States -- which is what is happening now -- our system of government is undermined and obliterated.

In Watergate we had the precedent that no one in this country is above the rule of law, including the president. And when Nixon tried something like this, the response of the Congress of the United States was to have a unanimous vote by the Senate, 77-0, to convene a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Watergate committee that of course led to the President's resignation. Because good Republicans understood the violence done to the Constitution and to our country by what Nixon had done.

And the fact that Republicans have not gotten up in arms about this earlier and -- look, Trump has made no secret whatsoever that he wants to bury the Mueller investigation. If he is as innocent of all of these things as he maintains, no collusion, no obstruction, he should welcome this investigation. We are watching a President whose back is to the wall trying to earn himself a get out of jail pass, figuratively speaking, not literally, by manipulating the system of justice in the United States in a way that goes far farther than Nixon did in Watergate. And the complicit people with him in this are the Republicans in the Congress who are not standing up and saying, Mr. President, we cannot have this, we join with the Democrats in Congress right now to pass some resolutions that guarantees the integrity of this investigation by Mr. Mueller.

BALDWIN: Carl, thank you. Thank you very much. Carl Bernstein. Coming up next, the father of one of the California's shooting victims speaks out about the loss of his 22-year-old son. You will hear his emotional good-bye.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: 12 more names, the victims of gun violence in America. We may not know all of who they are just yet, but we know they died far too soon. One of the victims has just been identified, Elena Housley. Her aunt and uncle called her an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and asked for prayers and privacy. Also, Jason Coffman, whose 22-year-old son, Cody, was killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill during last night shooting just broke down when he was sharing the moment, he found out his son didn't walk out of there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON COFFMAN, 22-YEAR-OLD SON WAS KILLED IN BAR SHOOTING: You all know that I've been here fighting for him all morning long, and we did just get the news that he was one of the 11 that were killed last night. His name was Cody Coffman. My first-born son. Only he and I know how much I love -- how much I miss him. Oh, God, this is so hard. Oh, son, I love you so much. Oh, heavenly father, just please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you like us to know about Cody?

COFFMAN: Cody was the big brother that my kids need. I have a daughter coming on the 29th of this month that he was so excited to have his first sister and not -- now she'll never know. Oh, Cody, I love you, son. And I just want to thank everybody that let me get out this morning just to put his face on the news that this is going to be an absolute heart-wrenching time for me and my family. My son was on his way to fulfilling his dream of serving the country. Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old was he, sir?

COFFMAN: He just turned 22.

[15:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it that he was about to serve?

COFFMAN: He was talking to recruiters and doing his thing that he had to do to become part of the military. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What branch?

COFFMAN: In the army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it that made him so wonderful to you.

COFFMAN: To me his outgoing love for everybody -- his outgoing love for his baseball team. He was a head umpire for the Camarillo Pony Baseball League. I mean, there were so much people that he touched and now are going to be just as heartbroken as I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he the hero that you though he was?

COFFMAN: He stayed behind. Yes, he stayed behind.

We don't know anything. They just told that is he was pronounced dead on the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you last talk to your son?

COFFMAN: He just moved in with him and was living with him for the last --

MIKE JOHNSTON, 22-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON KILLED IN BAR SHOOTING: One night a month.

COFFMAN: I talked to him last night before he headed out the door. First thing I said was please don't drink and drive. Last thing I said was son, I love you. That was the last thing I said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you remember most about him?

JOHNSTON: You know, his life was cut short at too young of an age, but we have a faith in our God, in our Christ, and we have a hope of a resurrection. Life is fragile. I pray every morning. She was going to say, drive to work because I know we had a plane crash on the 101. They drive that to work every day and people need to understand it. It's fragile. It's precious. You know, life is sacred, and we should cherish it. I can't comprehend. There's really -- we want to look for reasons, there is no reason why evil things happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Left wing protesters are now targeting Tucker Carlson of Fox News at his house. Police were called to Carlson's Washington, D.C. home last night where members of an anti-fascist group were staging a loud protest. In videos uploaded to Twitter the group can be heard chanting Tucker Carlson. We will fight. We know where you sleep at night. Let's go to Brian Stelter who is our chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES". What's the news from D.C. police? What are they now saying?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: We've just learned in the past few minutes there's an open criminal investigation into this protest last night. And so, what it means, Brooke, we could see the police looking into this further, possibly even trying to talk with or arrest some of the protesters. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. What we know for sure is that about 20 people showed up at Carlson's home in northwest D.C. last night. He was not at home, of course, he was at work getting ready for his show on Fox News. His wife was home alone and his wife heard this disturbance outside and heard them knocking on the door and screaming things. She was concerned about a home invasion. She called the police.

The police showed up and the police report shows that there was vandalism at the home. Here's the statement, the news statement from the police saying, look, these protesters, some of them broke the law by defacing private property. Quote, MPD takes the violations seriously and we will work to hold those accountable for their unlawful actions. There is currently an open criminal investigation regarding this matter.

So, what starts as a left-wing protest, at one of these antifa- affiliated groups. They say they need to speak truth to power and hold Carlson accountable. Look, everybody has first amendment rights. But to show up at someone's house, to be knocking on the door, to be spray painting an anarchy symbol in the driveway, that has been denounced from the right and from the left today. Everyone from folks over at Fox to Stephen Colbert today saying that crosses a line. You shouldn't be showing up at somebody's house like that.

BALDWIN: What is Fox saying?

STELTER: Fox news has come out and agreed with that assessment. Says this was reprehensible behavior and the executives at Fox have also said, look, temperatures need to be taken down across the board right now. Recent events in the country show we need a more civil respectful conversation and be tolerant of differences. An interesting tone coming from Fox News.

I think, look, Brooke, we talked about Fox a lot lately, we talked about Sean Hannity promoting Trump and all the rest. Can you have a lot of criticisms of Fox News and I do, but it crosses a line when you're showing up at somebody's home. Whether you love Tucker Carlson or hate Tucker Carlson I think we can all agree that protesters on a driveway shouting, scaring the anchor's wife is just uncalled for. I'm just glad his kids weren't home. You know, his wife was home. Obviously, it was a disturbing situation and the D.C. police we are now learning are taking it seriously.

BALDWIN: Agree. Absolutely overstepping and absolutely outrageous. Brian Stelter, thanks so much for that. And thank you for being with me for the last two hours here on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.