Return to Transcripts main page


Federal Judge Denies Motion to Lift Florida Recount Deadlines; Max Boot Saddened to See Rubio Turn into Trump's Mini-Me; Senator Flake Says Protect Mueller Or I'll Stop Trump Judges; 17 Democrats Vowed to Vote No for Pelosi As Speaker; British Prime Minister Theresa May's Future Hangs in The Balance. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 15, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. In one hour, that is the deadline that the nation has been waiting for, all 67 counties in the state of Florida will submit their recount totals in the two of the most hotly contested races, still undecided nine days after election day. The race for Florida governor and for U.S. Senate. Andrew Gillum has to overcome a 33,000-vote differential in order to become the state's first black governor and his fellow Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is about 13,000 votes shy with his opponent there, Republican Governor Rick Scott. Florida's outcome will help determine exactly how much of a majority Republicans will ultimately hold in the U.S. Senate, where we have seen time and time again how much power a single vote can wield.

Need I remind you, of those Brett Kavanaugh hearings or the failed Obamacare repeal, so, with that, let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee. Ed, talk to me about this decision from this federal judge just ruled on this request for more time. What's the ruling?

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the many lawsuits that have been filed since election day here in Florida, I think one of the more significant ones. This was the case surrounding the efforts from Democrats here in Florida to push back the recount deadline, which is coming up in an hour. The federal judge in that case has ruled that that deadline will not be extended. So, we are now here waiting at the Secretary of State's office here in Tallahassee, waiting for those counties across the state of Florida to report the final numbers of their recounts that have been mandated in a number of these races, including a race for Senate and for governor here in the state of Florida. There will not be an extension of the recount deadline. So that is what we're waiting for here. The Secretary of State's office says that it will not be an immediate release of this information here at 3:00 eastern time. An electronic filing will be put out some point after 3:00. It could talk five minutes, it could take several hours. It's not exactly clear just how long after we will see what these recount numbers will be from across the state. So that is what we're here anticipating here this afternoon, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. So, the request for extra time denied, which could be key as they're saying they will not make that deadline in one hour. Ed Lavandera, talk to you again in 60 minutes.

As the nation looks to Florida, officials are honing in to Palm Beach County. Jessica, the head of elections in that county, she is taking -- she is saying it is her full responsibility.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Brooke. We talked to her earlier today. She is accepting responsibility. I want to give you a look at what we're seeing inside the Supervisor Of Elections office. Just over my left shoulder here, that's where all the machines are. You'll notice there's not really that much going on over there. We don't know exactly what they're doing because they haven't told us, but we do know they are not expected to make the deadline at 3:00, as you mentioned, that here in Palm Beach they will be the one county in Florida that's not going to make that deadline, they say. They have been plagued by these machines, which are older than a lot of the machines throughout the state. They have been overheating, they have been breaking down. They have had a myriad of problems here in to get this recount down. Rosa Flores spoke with the supervisor of elections, Susan Booker, earlier.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You'll be the only county in the state of Florida to not submit the recount.

SUSAN BOOKER, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, PALM BEACH COUNTY: As a supervisor, I take l responsibility. That is my job. It is not for want of human effort. You saw the human effort was so incredible and I think everybody who participated. The fact of the matter is that when mechanicals fail, there's not a lot I can do about it.


DEAN: And we have seen Ms. Booker around here today checking in with people. What we are hearing is now that they are turning to the hand recount. So, what happens is once they get all those numbers in at 3:00, if any of these three races are within that .25 margin, that's going to trigger a hand recount of over/under ballots. It's pretty much what it sounds like, people who voted in multiple races and didn't vote in some races, they're going to pull all of those ballots out and begin to hand recount those. People are saying if they're not going to make the recount deadline from the tally from Palm Beach? What's going to happen as it stands right now is they'll simply go with the numbers they gave the Secretary of State originally.

BALDWIN: Which could be good news the governor. Because you know Bill Nelson wanted a higher voter tally out of that county. Jessica Dean, thank you. As we wait for those results, Marco Rubio is getting criticized for comments about his tweets.

There is a comment from a "New York Times" column entitled "Marco Rubio, Trumpified" and so in part it reads "Rubio is doing something dangerous, deliberately undermining people's confidence in our electoral systems for partisan gain. Senator, I'm honestly disappointed in -- and surprised you would stoop to this level. You should be better than President Trump." Here is one of Rubio's tweets that was condemned in this piece, he tweeted "Broward election supervisor's ongoing violation of Florida law requiring timely reporting isn't just annoying incompetence. It has opened the door for lawyers to come here and try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate and Florida cabinet."

With me now, Max Boot, CNN global affairs analyst, who wrote a piece. You talked about how you worked on the Rubio campaign. Good to see you.


BALDWIN: You wrote your saddened little Marco is turning his tormenter's Mini Me. Are you referring to tweets like that?

BOOT: Absolutely I mean this is very dismaying because in 2016 when I was a foreign policy advisor to Senator Rubio I thought he was a different kind of Republican, someone who was more principled and Reagan-esque and I thought he would speak up for American democracy and here he is undermining American democracy for petty, partisan reasons. There is no factual foundation for this. There is zero evidence of any fraud in Florida. The fact you have Donald Trump, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio saying fraud, fraud, fraud --

BALDWIN: What happened to Marco Rubio?

BOOT: He has been transformed into Donald Trump's image. I think the entire Republican Party has been taken over by Trump and people who want to survive or are ambitious prefer their office as he clearly is, have decided they need to emulate Donald Trump, which is horrible because Donald Trump's behavior should be unacceptable to anybody who believes in the ideals of American democracy.

BALDWIN: Which is a nod to Congresswoman Martha McSally who wanted to become Arizona's next senator, at least she has not done that.

BOOT: She's shown some class, which is unlike those in Florida.

BALDWIN: The way the president has spoken not even just about his own election as president of the United States but also looking to Florida but not just fraud this, fraud that, infected votes, all these floating conspiracy theories about people in Florida must be wearing disguises so they can show up and cast dual ballots, what did he tweet, if you have a box of cereal, you have a voter I.D. this is Chuck Schumer addressing all of that.


SEN. Chuck Schumer (D), New York: The president, he keeps getting more and more absurd. He makes up things. So, he most recently claimed in an interview with the daily caller that, quote, illegal voters go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt and vote again. Mr. President, name one. Name a few. Where did it happen and when? Or did you just read this on some right wing, nasty, dishonest blog and just repeat it? Donald Trump, you're the President of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But he does keep repeating it, and I imagine it's because he thinks it works.

BOOT: It does work and it's also kind of a psychological outlet for it. After the 2016 election, he claimed millions voted illegally, and now he's at it with zero factual -- he's sucking the Republican Party down this rabbit hole of irrationality promoting these conspiracy theories, just as he's sucking them into espousing racism and misogyny and xenophobia as he did in the last campaign. It's tragic what's happening in this country and how little responsibility Donald Trump is showing for what the President of the United States should actually be doing.

BALDWIN: Did you notice this morning the flurry of tweets about the Special Counsel Robert Mueller?

BOOT: He's feeling the heat.

BALDWIN: He's been relatively quiet on this. Now suddenly he's not. He's picking up the rhetoric again. For example, why do you think this is? Do you think he knows something we don't know? Do you think something's about to drop?

[14:10:00] BOOT: There's two areas of speculation I can offer you. One is that there is speculation that he has to answer interrogatories from Robert Mueller and it's putting him on the spot in terms of he's got to figure out which story he's going to stick to and there's no good options so he's very frustrated. But B, remember, Matt Whitaker, his henchman, has just been appointed Acting Attorney General and even though he has not shut down the Mueller investigation the odds are he has access to Mueller's files. That's why I thought it was ominous today when Donald Trump tweeted about the inner workings of the Mueller investigation. It raises the question in my mind does he have access to those inner workings? If so, it's a code red situation for the rule of law and it's disgraceful that Mitch McConnell would not bring a bill to the floor protecting Robert Mueller.

BALDWIN: Which is also one of the reasons why people were floating yesterday his notion of wanting his ranking members now Democratic majority committees in the House that the Jim Jordans and Mark Meadows would also be a life line for him to having a heads up on what's going on presumably a number of investigations heading his way. Lastly, Senator Jeff Flake, lame duck Senator, Arizona, he has threatened to oppose all judicial nominees coming from the Senate Judiciary to the Senate floor unless the Senate majority leader puts up this bill protecting Robert Mueller. McConnell says this bill isn't necessary, Trump's not going to do anything. Do you think Senator Flake has a point?

BOOT: Of course, Senator Flake has a point. He should have done this more than a year ago in a Senate that is as closely as this one. Individual senators have vast power. Senators can bring everything to a grinding halt if they don't get what they're asking for. It's too bad he's waited this long. BALDWIN: Do you think it's an empty threat?

BOOT: Well, no, but there have to be a few other Republican that join him in order to actually make this threat real. Because they can pass judges without Flake but if Susan Collins, Bob Corker, a few other people join with Senator Flake, then they're really in trouble and they have no choice but to bring the bill to the floor and I would hope they would do that without much hope that that would actually happen. It's just tragic how Republicans who claim to be invested in the constitution are allowing Donald Trump to attack the rule of law in plain sight.

BALDWIN: Max boot, thank you very much.

BOOT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Ahead here, the fight for leadership in the Democratic party is growing more intense over who should become the next speaker of the House? More than a dozen Democrats say they will vote against Nancy Pelosi. And Saudi prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for a number of those involved in the Jamal Khashoggi murder.

And two Navy seals and Marines are now facing murder for the death of a Green Beret killed overseas.


BALDWIN: Welcome back, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. As Democrats celebrate a now growing majority in the House, Nancy Pelosi's bid to become speaker again is hitting speed bumps. 17 Democrats have signed a letter saying they will not vote for her on the House floor. That's according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. Today leader Pelosi was quick to mention that mostly men signed that letter.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are at least 17 members who have signed a letter saying they will not support you on the floor.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Have you seen the letter?

RAJU: I've not seen the letter.

PELOSI: You haven't seen it. You have to ask those people what their motivation is. I think of the 17 it's mostly like 14 men who are on that letter. And you -- you know I have never gone to that place. I enjoy a tremendous amount of support from the women in our caucus. If there is any misogyny involved in it, it's their problem, not mine.


BALDWIN: That was Manu Raju asking that question. Kathleen Rice, she is one of the Democrats voicing her opposition and she says "This is not about Nancy Pelosi being a woman. This is about the fact that she's been in this leadership position for 16 years and is time for a change."

Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent. Manu Raju. There was quite an exchange. First, just explain the vote for leadership is upcoming on November 28. Do these detractors, first of all, if they don't want Nancy Pelosi to be the speaker, what kind of person would they like? And is the goal of the letter to just put pressure on Pelosi?

RAJU: It absolutely is. Their hope is that they will force Nancy Pelosi to essentially step aside from her run for the speakership if she sees the writing on the wall, enough signatures to say that these people will not vote for her on the floor of the House and there is no way that she could have the votes to become elected speaker. But Pelosi as you can see there from that exchange that we had earlier today is defiant, she is feisty at this press conference this morning. She says that she certainly get the votes to be the speaker both to be nominated maybe this month by her caucus and then the fall houseboat in the first day in January.

[14:20:00] she believes that she will get those 218 votes on the floor from Democrats alone. The question is who may run against her. There's talk from Marcia Fudge, who is a Democrat from Ohio, member of the Congressional Black Caucus. She has said she's seriously thinking about it, getting encouragement to do it. When Pelosi was asked about the prospect of a Marcia Fudge candidacy, she said "come on in, the water's warm."

BALDWIN: Would it be possible since there are these detractors is that Nancy Pelosi would have to rely on Republicans to get the vote?

RAJU: In this environment anything is possible. I talked to one Republican who made it clear he could support Nancy Pelosi if she embraced a bipartisan package of rules reforms that would make it easier for rank-and-file members to push legislation on the floor at the expense of the power of the congressional leadership. Now this Republican Tom Reed was joined by other Democrats who are saying they will vote for her only if she endorses this rules change.


REP. THOMAS SUOZZI (D), NEW YORK: I've been saying the same thing for months now. I won't vote for any speaker unless they agree to change the rules to make it easier to put things on the floor where we can find broad bipartisan consensus.

REP. TOM REED (R) NEW YORK: Then as a Republican standing here with my Democratic colleagues, I am sick and tired of this institution being controlled by essentially one office. I'm willing to take such a disruptive position as this for the American people to say a Democratic candidate who embraces these rules reforms, I would stand with.

RAJU: So, if Nancy Pelosi were to support it, you would support her?

REED: I am open to it because I am so frustrated with this institution being just a top-down driven organization that essentially when you work hard to get bipartisan consensus legislation and you are told, no, the rules of the house say, no, because you have to have that edict from far above -- it is time to change this and if Nancy Pelosi is the only one that is there, I am open to it.

RAJU: You're a Republican. How much of a backlash would you get for supporting Nancy Pelosi?

REED: There would be significant backlash.


RAJU: Reed went on to say he would be helped by the fact that the president tweeted last week that, sure, Republicans could support Nancy Pelosi for being speaker. Not many took that very seriously but he said that could be cover if Pelosi was serious enough. She met with this group yesterday, embraced their proposals generally, but these members say they want her support in writing. And then if she puts it in writing, then they may support her on the floor. So, as you can see, Nancy Pelosi trying to lock down the support from various groups. We'll see if a Republican eventually endorses her but still, a long way to go from now until when she may ultimately get the vote.

BALDWIN: November 28th. New details today in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a number of those responsible for his death and today the Trump administration is announcing its own action. Is this going far enough? And Theresa May vowing to see her Brexit deal through, taking a swipe at critics saying she should step down. Is she at risk? We'll take you to Downing Street next.


BALDWIN: British prime minister Theresa May's future is now uncertain. Her government in shambles, the issue here, her controversial Brexit plan to separate the U.K. from the European Union. A slew of resignations today, including two cabinet ministers. Here is May on a possible no confidence vote.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UK: Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones. As prime minister, my job is to bring back a deal that delivers on the vote of the British people, that does that by ending free movement, all the things I raised in my statement, ending free movement, ensuring we're not sending vast annual sums to the EU any longer but also protects jobs.


BALDWIN: Let's go straight to Nic Robertson, who is there outside of 10 Downing Street. Nic, I read six cabinet resignations today, including the Brexit secretary himself who says this agreement has fatal flaws. Theresa May says she's going to stay and fight. Why?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She began by saying it's an honor and privilege to serve in high office. It felt electric. You felt the precious of the past week and 24 hours in particular had just come to the moment where she was going to resign, but it was absolutely not going that way at all. She believes that the deal that she can offer, that she's worked out, that her negotiations have worked out with the European Union is the best one on offer. There have been reports throughout the day, two senior minister, two junior minister, two private secretaries, a vice chairman of the party as well and back bench MPs submitting letters of no confidence to this party committee who could trigger a party vote of no confidence. Three hours in parliament today. Let's pause to see how some of those three hours went in parent. Take a look at this.