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More Mueller Indictments Coming?; Michael Avenatti Facing Legal Trouble; Florida Recounts Hit Deadline. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired November 15, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Watt, thank you, live in Calabasas.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. We have got the breaking news here. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
With the tick of the clock, time has just run out in the Florida recount. The state's 67 counties were supposed to turn in their recount totals at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, which is right this very moment.
And with results, we will be one step closer to knowing who won two of the most hotly contested races still undecided nine days after Election Day. I'm talking about the race for Florida governor and for U.S. Senate.
Tallahassee's Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum is trailing behind Republican and former Congressman Ron DeSantis. And incumbent Senator Democrat Bill Nelson is behind Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott.
So let's go straight to Ed Lavandera in Tallahassee.
The time is up. What now?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, now we wait a little bit longer. Sorry for that anticlimactic news.
But the state election officials are in the building here behind me in downtown Tallahassee, 67 counties across the state of Florida reporting these updated recount numbers into the office here. And election officials tell us that there will not be any kind of formal announcement or any kind of pomp and circumstance here at this deadline, but that we will -- they will file electronically the updated numbers from that have come in from the counties across the state.
How long that will take, obviously, is the question everybody wants to know and wants an answer to at this point, but we are told that it could happen at any point here in the coming hours. So it could take five minutes. It could take a couple of hours. Just impossible to say with any kind of accuracy right now. So we are doing the work you don't want to do. We will stand here and
wait for you, so that we can figure out all this information and pass it along as soon as we get it. But that's where things stand even, Brooke, here as in a federal courtroom just down the street from where we are.
There are still a number of hearings and judges working on the number of lawsuits that have been filed here in this state since Election Day. And many of those decisions and questions are still being ruled on as we speak right now.
So we're still awaiting a flurry of activity here, but obviously the main question many people worried about and have the most interest in is what the updated recount numbers will be here as soon as election officials here in the state of Florida publish those numbers -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's the hurry up and wait. We will leave the waiting to you. But don't go too far from that camera, Ed Lavandera. We're going to come back to you the second we have news, so thank you for that. Stay close.
Just one county was expected to miss this deadline to recount all of its votes. And that is Palm Beach County, which was hampered, its official say, with old machines.
CNN's Jessica Dean now joins us from the county seat of West Palm Beach.
And, Jessica, did they -- did they make it, or no?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did not make it, Brooke.
So we just moments ago found out that here in Palm Beach, they are the only county in the state of Florida that turned in their preliminary numbers from Saturday, in lieu of recounted numbers. That's what the law states. They are blaming mechanical error here in Palm Beach, not human error, mechanical error.
As we have talked about over the last few days, they have been plagued by old machines here. They overheat, they break down. And the supervisor of elections here, interestingly, though, Susan Bucher, saying this morning, telling CNN that she's taking full responsibility for this, but she said it was not for lack of trying that people, in her office have worked very hard to get these machines to go.
They were almost there in terms of getting that Senate recount done and that's when the machines broke down. We're told that they will be submitting a report to the secretary of state explaining what happened here.
And, Brooke, keep in mind, now that they have missed this deadline, it's not the end. If one of these three races or any of these three races fall within that point 0.25 margin, that means they're going to have to set up and get ready for a hand count here. So the work is not done, but, clearly, Brooke, I think it's fair to
say they're very frustrated inside. They are frustrated with the machines. They're frustrated they didn't make this deadline, but, again, the supervisor of elections here in Palm Beach saying she takes full responsibility for it.
BALDWIN: All right, Jessica, so you stay close as well. Results in Florida are coming in.
Let's go to CNN's Tom Foreman.
Tom, what are you seeing?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, is it just me or is Florida to elections what Nebraska is to beaches these days?
They just seem to have such a hard time with this.
FOREMAN: This is why this matters so much. This is why it matters so much, mainly, the Senate race.
Look, Rick Scott, Bill Nelson here, the Democrat here, he is behind by 12,562 votes based on the initial count. Can he close this gap in the recount results as they come through? That's a pretty big gap to jump. It doesn't look very promising.
And this news out of Palm Beach really does not help all, this county down here having trouble. Look at that. That's blue. That's one of the places where Bill Nelson could have had an advantage here. Now that seems like that may not be there, so he's got to look as whether or not there may be better results coming throughout someplace like Broward.
Maybe he gets some kind of a boost out of Miami-Dade. But those are the areas he's looking for some kind of advantages. And they did get a little break earlier today when a federal judge said that there was a signature mismatch issue. People who mailed in their votes or did provisional votes, some signatures didn't match.
And they said they could look at those again, but only for about 5,000 of them, people who were notified too late about it. Is 5,000 12,562? No, it is not. So what they really have to hope for in that race is that somehow the gap narrows enough that those 5,000 would make a difference.
In other words, Bill Nelson, the Democrat, has to have a lot of things go right for him to overcome where things stand right now. And you mentioned the governor's race. That -- the gap is much wider there, Andrew Gillum, the Democrat, behind by 33,000 -- almost -- 700 votes. That's a really big gap to close there, no matter how the recount goes. But, nonetheless, Democrats are hoping that through this process and
whatever is remaining in the courts, they can at least somehow get it closer and maybe, if nothing else, get it close enough to force that hand recount, and then hope never dies. They have a chance that maybe somehow it still comes through -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, we're going to keep you close to that magic wall as we do start to see some numbers trickle in. Tom Foreman. Nebraska is to beaches, that was good, that was good. Tom, thank you very much.
Let's go straight to CNN political director David Chalian, because, David, when you think of the what's happened in Palm Beach County, this is great news if you are Governor Rick Scott.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, the numbers tell the story that Tom was just showing.
So, in Palm Beach County, the initial vote that was sent in by last Saturday was the initial deadline to get the initial canvass in. You saw there that Nelson one Palm Beach County by 16 points. He got about 100,000 more votes than Rick Scott in Palm Beach County. It's a Democratic bastion.
And there are a lot of people there. So if you're in the Nelson campaign, your entire strategy for this whole recount and lawsuits and what have you has been, how do we expand the universe of legitimately counted ballots, so that we have a chance to make up that gap?
And how do you do that in heavily Democratic counties, because that's where you can make the biggest jumps? So a case like Palm Beach, that is the first place lawyers would look to say, how do we find more legitimate ballots here that need to be part of this count? And now with the news that Jessica Dean was just reporting that, indeed, Palm Beach is just reporting what they reported on Saturday, that there is no adjusted number, there is no recount, the universe did not expand at all about what was counted in Palm Beach.
And so that's a huge lost opportunity for the Nelson forces to try to go to a Democratic-vote- rich area and try to make up some ground.
BALDWIN: So, since Senator Nelson would have hoped to have had bigger numbers out of the very blue county that is Palm Beach County, and it sounds like that then won't happen, because they then revert back to those Saturday night numbers, play this through for me.
At what point does the Florida secretary of state certify the results and call it?
CHALIAN: So, what's going to happen here is that we're waiting now -- and now that we know is 66 of the 67 counties got their numbers in by 3:00, we will await the Florida secretary of state to post all those new totals county by county, and then the statewide total.
What we will determine then is, does the new margin between Nelson and Scott stay as it is now, which is within a quarter of a percentage point? Are they less than 0.25 percent apart from each other? If they are, that, by law, Brooke triggers a hand recount, not of every ballot, but of ballots where there are overvotes or undervotes, where people voted twice in a race or missed a race. And then they want to look at them by hand to make sure that the machine properly got the voters' intent.
So that will happen. And the deadline then is Sunday at noon for the hand recount results to be turned in. And you asked about certification. Next Tuesday, the 20th of November, is when the Florida secretary of state has a deadline to certify the election.
BALDWIN: OK, so next Tuesday, the nation will know who the next senator of Florida is. You got to wait still a couple more days is what I'm hearing from you, if it is within that 0.25 for the hand recount.
BALDWIN: That said, for the Senate race, depending on -- let's say it stays with Rick Scott, what would that do to the balance of power?
CHALIAN: Right, so Republicans are going to control the United States Senate. We are not longer in the which party is going to control? It's about how big that majority is.
If Rick Scott hangs on here, that means that the Republicans will have picked up a net gain of two seats from where they were before. Remember, they won the deep red states of North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri. Those were all pickups. They could pick up Florida here. That's four. Democrats won Nevada and Arizona. So the net gain for Republicans is two.
BALDWIN: Got it. David Chalian, thank you very much.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: We will stay in touch with you as we wait to get all of the numbers in from Florida. As he was saying, 66 of the 67 counties in Florida are in.
The blue wave continues to grow, as the Democrats gained another House seat just moments ago. How high those gains could reach on the House side.
Also, do you remember this moment?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been the single greatest threat to my family!
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: An angry constituent yells at Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur of New Jersey over his health care coverage. And last night, MacArthur officially lost his reelection bid.
What this reveals about Americans and Obamacare.
BALDWIN: We will get you back Florida in just a second, as the recount deadline just passed.
Those are the live pictures you're looking at on the right side of your screen.
Results from the midterms are still coming in more than a week after the elections, and the Democrats just added another seat to its majority in the House.
So CNN senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten is with me now.
And, Harry Enten, all this talk about a blue wave, you know all these numbers. Put into perspective how big of a -- this blue wave is getting.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes.
So, right now, we're already up to a net gain of 33 seats for the Democrats in the House. That's the largest net gain for them since the Watergate -- after Watergate in 1974. So it's a huge wave.
And here -- and the other thing we should point out is, the seats keep on coming, as you pointed out. Earlier on today, Maine's 2nd District went in the Democratic column. It feels more like Hanukkah than Christmas. It's spread out over time.
And so Democrats, by the end of it, my forecast is that they could get all the way up to a net gain of 39 seats, which is huge by any measure. That's a huge blue wave.
BALDWIN: Huge blue wave, says Harry Enten. But the vice president says, we didn't really see that blue wave.
Yes, we did?
ENTEN: Well, yes.
I mean, look, the fact of the matter is, the vice president can say whatever it is that he wants to say. But if you look at the numbers, look at the House of Representatives, the largest gain since Watergate. Look at the governors, you have a net gain of seven seats for the Democrats.
And even in the Senate, where the Republicans look like they're going to net gain two seats, look at that map. There were 10 Democratic incumbents who were running in states that Donald won just two years ago.
The fact that Republicans were only able to net two seats to me is very poor. And then also look at the state legislature seats. Democrats are looking like they're going to net gain at least 300 seats there. So you put it all together, and I would say that the vice president is wrong. The numbers disagree with him.
Of course, it's not the first time we have heard from this administration numbers that aren't exactly true.
BALDWIN: Hmm. Ouch. Correct.
In New Jersey, Harry, I want to talk about Republican Tom MacArthur. He was memorably confronted at a town hall about health care by a man whose wife was dying. So, just to remind everyone of that moment, let's play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife was diagnosed with cancer when she was 40 years old. You have been the single greatest threat to my family in the entire world!
You are the reason I stay up at night. Sit on down! You're done!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And Tom MacArthur lost last night.
How big -- how large of a role did health care as an issue play in these states for this midterm?
ENTEN: I would say it played the largest role.
In poll after poll after poll, Democrats said that health care was their biggest issue. If you looked at all voters, they said that health care was their biggest issue. And, overall, they had wanted Obamacare to stay intact.
And Republicans tried to dismantle it. And you saw a slew of challengers come up against these Republicans who were trying to dismantle, like Tom MacArthur, and you know what? That gentleman who was going up against Tom MacArthur said he's done. And, apparently, that gentleman was in fact correct.
BALDWIN: Harry Enten, thank you very much.
ENTEN: Bye, Brooke.
More on our breaking news, the results of Florida's recounting posted as we speak. Two of the country's most heated races hang in the balance.
Also, Attorney Michael Avenatti now dealing with his own legal drama after being arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence -- what his client Stormy Daniels just said about the news.
BALDWIN: CNN has obtained copies of stunning text messages from longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. The texts appear to show Stone discussing WikiLeaks' plans back in 2016, days before WikiLeaks released hacked e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta.
So, Kara Scannell is in Washington covering this for us.
And, Kara, what was in those text messages?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, these text messages that Roger Stone released were sent about six days before that Podesta e-mail dump.
And in the messages, if you look through them, this is between Roger Stone and who the person he said was his back channel, Randy Credico, a New York radio host.
So on the exchange of the texts that we have seen, Credico is saying to Stone: "Big news Wednesday. Now pretend you don't know me."
Stone replies to him in a text, saying: "You died five years ago."
And Credico responds: "Great. Hillary's campaign will die this week."
And then six days later, there's this big e-mail document dump. Now, Roger Stone is releasing these e-mails because his lawyer says that this vindicates him. Stone has said that Credico was his back channel, he had no knowledge of the hacked e-mails, and that he was relying on public information when he was sending out these tweets warning about negative news coming toward the Hillary campaign.
Randy Credico says that Stone has cherry-picked these e-mails, that, in fact, he was just relying on public statements that Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, was making, and that's what he was relating to Roger Stone.
It all matters now because another Stone associate, Jerome Corsi, has been telling people, reporters, the public, on his own show that he expects to be charged by Mueller's team as soon as this week, potentially for lying or obstruction of justice.
Now, this all comes as Mueller's team has been interviewing numerous people, including Credico, about Roger Stone. Roger Stone himself thinks he could be indicted. But he says he has done nothing wrong -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: That's been the question mark, as so many people all around him have been questioned. Kara Scannell, thank you so much on Roger Stone here.
Meantime, this next man, one of America's most polarizing lawyers and personalities, and now Michael Avenatti, the man representing Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against the president, is facing his own legal trouble.
Avenatti arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.
M.J. Lee is our CNN national political correspondent.
And, M.J., we know Avenatti is denying all of these allegations. Stormy Daniels is now speaking up, saying what?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's not only denying. He says these are bogus allegations. There's a lot that we don't know right now. We don't know if there was an altercation. We don't know what kind of altercation it might have been. We don't know who was involved.
As you know, there was initially a report that said that this was an altercation between Michael Avenatti and his wife, from whom he is currently getting divorced. I spoke with Mrs. Avenatti on the phone yesterday, and she said that it's absolutely not true.
Avenatti is not actually getting into the details of what might or might not have happened, but he is denying the allegation that there was a physical altercation. Listen to what he said when he came out of jail yesterday after his arrest, after he posted bail. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: Now, Avenatti says that he is going to be fully exonerated once all of the facts come out.
But we are already seeing the backlash, right? We know that he was supposed to participate in a Vermont Democratic Party event on Friday, on Saturday. Those have been canceled. They say that they canceled them as soon as the news broke.
We also don't know what's going to happen with him and his most famous client, Stormy Daniels. This is the woman who sort of made him a household name in this country. And she actually spoke at an Oxford University event just a little while ago.
BALDWIN: What did she say?
LEE: And she said that she's reserving judgment until she knows more about. But this is the key thing. She says, "If the allegations turn out to be true, then I will definitely be seeking new presentation, because I cannot condone or support someone who is abusive."
So that relationship potentially could be rocky right now.
BALDWIN: M.J. Lee, keep us posted. Thank you very much.
President Trump's mood taking a foul turn, a White House official telling CNN the president is -- quote -- "pissed at damn near everyone" -- end quote.
All of this coming just one week after Trump stood in the White House East Room declaring victory on the midterm elections. And now we're hearing the president is reportedly isolated and growing angrier and angrier by the day. And he is turning to Twitter to unleash his fury.
And target number one is today special counsel Robert Mueller. The president's tweetstorm including this -- quote -- "The Mueller investigation is a total mess, and universities will someday study what highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of Democrat thugs have done."
Gloria Borger with me, our chief political analyst.
And, Gloria, you and I were just talking yesterday, you and so many others,all this insight on Trump's foul mood. And then, voila, this morning, this tweetstorm on all things Bob Mueller. I imagine this is connected.
Do you think something is about to drop?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, look, we don't know. We know that the special counsel's office is kind of a black box. We are all waiting, because we know that -- for example, that the president has been meeting with his attorneys for hours going over those written questions.
The president sees that Michael Cohen, his former fixer, has been meeting with the special counsel in the Southern District of New York. He probably doesn't like that very much. The CFO of the Trump Organization has been given immunity to testify.
So there's a lot of things going on that probably makes the president uncomfortable. I spoke with somebody who talks to the president regularly who said, yes, this is leaving him all kind of unsettled.
And I spoke with another source today who said that what the president is upset about is how long this process is taking and being dragged out, and the fact that the special counsel is spending so much time on what you were just talking about, Roger Stone, whom he thinks will not touch him.