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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

U.S. Surpasses a Quarter of a Million COVID-19 Deaths; "Time" Magazine Reports Giuliani Trying to Cast Doubt on Election so G.O.P. Led State Legislature Pick Up Trump, Not Biden. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 18, 2020 - 20:00   ET


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I think they do. And that's all Black Lives Matter is all about.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thanks for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. We start this hour with breaking news that 250,000 people in the United States are now dead from the coronavirus, a quarter million Americans. We crossed that threshold, that horrible threshold as deaths from the virus are rising rapidly.

On Tuesday, the U.S. reported more than 1,700 dead, the highest reported deaths in a single day in this country since May.

I want to show you our grim history of loss, 50,000 dead by April, 100,000 by May, 150,000 by July, and 200,000 back in September. A quarter of a million now dead and public health officials cannot speak with the incoming President of the United States, President-elect Joe Biden.

And the only reason they can't speak to him is because of the current President's baseless attempts to prove voter fraud and behind those baseless attempts and lies is probably anger and shame at losing, the desperation to hold on to power, maybe fear of what life is as a one- term President will be like outside the White House.

It doesn't really matter what he thinks, what he feels, it's what he's doing and he is harming this country and the transition to power.

Just moments ago, "U.S.A. Today" released an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who would also like to speak with the incoming administration, quoting Dr. Fauci, "I would wish that we would be able to do that that would be helpful."

As of this moment, President Trump has said nothing about the quarter million Americans dead. But of course he hasn't. By the way, he had nothing on his schedule today. Again, nothing.

I imagine most of you had a lot on your schedules today. Well, the President of the United States did not and he has spent a good deal of time rage tweeting again, this is the 11th time, the 11th day he hasn't had anything on his schedule since the election. Eleven out of 15 days.

It's not to say he is not doing anything. He is finding time to fire people who he doesn't like. First it was the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Last night, Chris Krebs, who he fired by tweet for saying, quote, "The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history."

Krebs worked in the Department of Homeland Security as Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He would know if election -- if the election was secure. Of course, it was his job.

But what he said didn't fit the losing President's narrative, so Mr. Kreb's was fired.

Today, Republican reaction to the firing was hardly surprising. A few disagreed, but others preferred to defend the President's right to fire Krebs. And of course he does have that right.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just ignored reporter questions, walked on by. They are mostly silent, too when the President did the same to other people who stood up to him over the past four years.

There will be more firings, no doubt; more tweets, perhaps more outrageous to come. The President has 63 days left and he has no shame and a lot of time on his hands.

We have breaking news now with CNN's Jeff Zeleny who is following Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. So Jeff, you have some new reporting tonight on people inside the Trump administration actually reaching out to the Biden team. What have you learned?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we are learning of a handful of Trump officials and former Trump political appointees who have recently left the government who have indeed taken it upon themselves to reach out to the Biden transition team.

I'm learning this along with my colleague, Evan Perez, that across the government, from national security to the Pentagon to other agencies, they are beginning to at least in some small ways, you know, extend an olive branch, open their door to Biden transition officials, not in any big ways, not sharing classified information or anything inappropriate, but simply making the overture and making a bigger point.

They know that President Trump is not going to serve a second term and they are putting country of a partisan interest here and beginning to reach out to Biden transition officials to share some of just, you know, small pieces of government business about what they should do to keep the lights on and, you know, to continue the continuity of government.

So these are just again, a handful of examples. But it's clear, we talked to one Trump official who said, look, I didn't vote for Joe Biden, but he believes that this is necessary to really keep things going here. So, it's extraordinary that it's, you know, so small in nature, but in these days, it's something.

COOPER: I'm sorry. So are these people who are currently serving in the administration or are these people who did serve and are now out?

ZELENY: It's a mix, Anderson. Some are currently serving in this administration at various levels of the government. It's no one who is in the direct, you know, inner circle of the President, no one who is in the West Wing, but people who are operating the U.S. government, who are you know, seeing that they need to have a transition of power.

Some have worked in previous administrations. They know how this goes. Most people in Washington know how this goes except of course the man in the Oval Office.

So it's a mix of people who are currently serving and who have recently left who are Trump political appointees. And again, not necessarily fans of Joe Biden, but they know he won the election. Again, this is normal. It's how transitions should know.

COOPER: What's the Biden team saying about this?

ZELENY: We've talked to a variety of Biden advisers who say, look, they welcome the cooperation, but this does not replace what should be happening. And that's the G.S.A. giving funding, but more importantly, opening the doors to information, particularly on COVID-19, on the vaccines, on the data, that is what they want.

So yes, they are happy to have these overtures, but it does not replace in their view what should be happening from the G.S.A., and they are simply being blocked from that day after day, almost coming up on two weeks -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, appreciate it. Thanks. Perspective now from CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN political director, David Chalian, and Republican election lawyer and CNN contributor, Ben Ginsberg.

So David, President Trump has never had an obviously healthy relationship with the truth. Looking at what he has been doing since he lost the election, firing people, rage tweeting, all the rest, his legal maneuverings. I mean, is there an actual strategy here?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I don't see a strategy. And I think applying strategy to Donald Trump is always a little dangerous, because I think that there's real just grievance on display.

I think this is a throwing as much as they can against the wall to see if they can delay some certifications of the votes in hopes that somehow they are going to be able to have state legislators change the slate of electors that vote in the Electoral College. It is so far- fetched, Anderson.

What is going on here is the sitting President of the United States of America, acting like a dictator trying to steal an election before the eyes of Americans, an election where he lost and significantly so both in the Electoral College and in the National Popular Vote. He is aggressively acting against the will of the American people.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, the facts are clear, President-elect Biden won the election. At this point, he is leading President Trump by almost six million votes and counting in the Popular Vote. You have Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is saying that 70 percent of Republicans think Biden won because he cheated.

How much blame do President Trump and his Republican allies -- I mean, isn't it the President who is leading that charge?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, the President is leading and they are following. And you know, as David was saying, this is the President's goal all along. He wants to convince the American public and he certainly convinced 70 percent of Republicans, as McCarthy says, and the polls show it, that this election was rigged, because otherwise he could not possibly have lost.

And then he will take that and do with it what he can. He is going to try and convince electors if that doesn't work, he is going to use it for whatever career he has next, to monetize that or to run for election again in 2024.

But the bigger problem here is that you have a sitting President of the United States, who is promoting something that is truly anti- democratic, which is to say that your vote doesn't count, no matter what you voted, you can't depend on it.

And that is antithetical to everything we know about the democratic process, and if the President has to de legitimize the democratic process, so he can say that the election was rigged, he is certainly willing to do that as we're seeing.

COOPER: So Ben, let me ask you just on the idea of a strategy. I mean, you know, Maggie Haberman often says that, you know, the President is just kind of living in increments of time and wanting to win those increments of time, and then, suddenly in the next increment of time -- would it just -- legally, where are they now in the legal strategy, which is, I guess, is now being led by, you know, Rudy Giuliani of all folks?

BENJAMIN GINSBERG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is really the beginning of the end of their strategy. There's nothing that's been done that is actually going to hold up the certification dates in any of the states. So that if they are actually counting on that, so far, they've offered no proof that is going to make a state do that.

The Michigan example last night, the Wisconsin recount is going to get done on time. It's a pretty easy to do process. Georgia has completed its recount. So that certification dates, all of which are completed by December 1st are going to be here in the next couple of weeks. And after that, he has got no second act.

And the problem with what he is doing now is, you know, he considers himself a Master Brander but everything that the legal strategy has led him to is loss after loss after loss, and I've been a part of campaigns that have lost recounts and thought they were gypped.

And the revenge motive of candidates coming back afterwards doesn't work. People get tired of this and he will be remembered for losing all these challenges that are hurting the system.


COOPER: That's interesting. You don't think the revenge -- motive, which may be very much alive within the President four years from now, you don't think that translates to voters feeling he was gypped and therefore wanting revenge?

GINSBERG: I don't at all, because I think that when this process is done, and he has lost in this process. People, even his most devout supporters get a little bit weary of it all and a candidacy based on, I got ripped off four years ago so I should be President now has just not worked historically, in American elections.

And you can argue that Donald Trump is a transformational and different figure, but not when it comes to something this fundamental, where he has put no points on the board, no evidence in the record, to support what he is doing.

CHALIAN: Anderson, sorry, he may never test that theory, right? Because what he may do is just hold open the possibility of a run again in 2024 for two years, freeze the field, keep his clout in the party, but actually never have to test Ben's theory about what voters would weigh in on that prospect.

COOPER: Right, and also, thereby crush the hopes and dreams and ambitions and, you know, secret wishes of numerous Republicans who are now serving, Gloria.

GINSBERG: To say nothing of a legislative agenda that would help the Republican Party.

COOPER: Well, yes, exactly. I mean, that could be -- I mean, that would be -- it could be very damaging for the Republicans, Gloria.

BORGER: Sure, but here's the thing. The Republicans, most of them, except for a handful are willingly going along with this, Anderson, and the reason they are doing it is because they believe that Donald Trump has a tremendous amount of power. He got over 71 million votes and power is what they're about. It's not about courage.

It's not about doing the right thing. It's not about saying this is ridiculous out loud.

You know, they kind of elbow it and say hi to, you know, Kamala Harris when she went on to the Hill, wink, wink, but they're helping. They are aiding and abetting the President in this process, so my question is to Ben and everyone else is --

COOPER: So it's like talking -- I mean, it's like someone holding a hostage. I mean, they're talking to somebody holding a hostage. I mean, they are trying to like, you know, figure out a way to get him out without, you know shooting the hostage.

BORGER: Right.

GINSBERG: But Anderson, the inflection point comes when the states have certified the results.

BORGER: That's right.

GINSBERG: That's when Mitch McConnell has said he gets the chance to get to that point.

COOPER: But Ben, let me ask you about that, because now, you know, we saw what happened in Detroit yesterday, with the, you know, two Republican, I guess, canvassers they are called. You know, not moving to certify. It's going to go up the food chain.

But I mean, is that a -- it seems like that's kind of maybe Rudy Giuliani's strategy now, you know, try to sow enough confusion and doubt that they can start to whittle away at some of these Republican, you know, I guess -- what canvassers? Is that an actual strategy that could work?

GINSBERG: Well, it may be an actual strategy, but it won't work. I mean, let's remember it worked for all of a couple of hours last night. The Trump Campaign may have sent out happy dance tweets, but it got reversed and they looked even sillier for the tweets that they did.

Michigan among the states still at play, has a unique system of canvassers where you have two Democrats and two Republicans. So Michigan, in the sense of who actually certifies the election is their best shot.

COOPER: You know, David, you know, the endless question, of course, is what happens to the Republican Party, you know, assuming Donald Trump has, you know, a TV network or a podcast or whatever it is out of Mar-a-Lago, and he is on, you know, holding big rallies that maybe he pays and sells t-shirts at and you know, has a big book, but has a big megaphone.

Is there any kind of reckoning, David Chalian in the Republican Party?

CHALIAN: I don't know. I mean, we've been looking for a reckoning in the Trump era, and it didn't happen in any way. And Anderson, I have never covered a politician who has as strong a bond with his supporters as Donald Trump does with his, and I think just Kevin McCarthy and other Republican leaders are keenly aware of that.

I think Donald Trump is going to be a force as an ex-President inside the Republican Party for some time to come. And I think the idea that on January 20th when he leaves that somehow the party can reconstitute itself instantly into a post-Trump era. I don't I don't suspect that that's where the party is going.

I think it's going to be grappling with Donald Trump as a looming figure as an ex-President.


COOPER: David Chalian, Ben Ginsberg, and Gloria Borger, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, more on the President's attempts to hold the White House by any lawsuit necessary and why Republicans are giving him cover. Van Jones on that.

Also ahead, more on our breaking news from the top of the broadcast, what a quarter of a million lives lost in this country means right now in the battle against coronavirus. What does the future hold as cases continue to skyrocket this winter?


COOPER: Repeating our breaking news tonight, sources are telling CNN that a handful of current Trump administration officials, as well as some political appointees who left in recent months have quietly started to reach out to members of Joe Biden's transition team, maybe a sign that President Trump's refusal to concede the election is beginning to frustrate even those who have spent time in the administration.

Still, many elected Republicans are giving the President cover for his actions. One possible reason why comes from that new interview we mentioned earlier between "The New York Times" where Republican's leader in the house, Kevin McCarthy. "The Times" and McCarthy were discussing what role President Trump would play in the coming years and we want to read again what McCarthy said next.

"The Times" asked this question, quote, "Doesn't Biden cool the country's political temperatures at least at first?" Kevin McCarthy responded, "It depends how it turns out. If you have 70 percent of Republicans who thought he cheated, he is still going to have a hard time."

I am joined now by Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama and Mike Shields, former chief of staff for the Republican National Committee, both CNN political commentators.


COOPER: Mike, at a certain point, assuming, you know, the court cases go through and as has been happening, the President continues to lose and the President leaves. I mean, at some point, don't Republicans in the Senate and the House have to at least acknowledge or do you think they'll just continue saying, well, you know, a lot of Republicans don't believe he is legitimate and not say, you know, loud and clear, you know, Joe Biden was elected fair and square.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, this is the polarized nature of our politics and we went through two years of Democrats saying that Donald Trump wasn't legitimate and that Russians elected him. And having people like the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who gets Intelligence briefing, saying I have certifiable evidence that he committed collusion, only to find out that it was all not true.

And so this is the era of politics that have been ushered in, which is that one side is going to treat the President legitimately and the other side isn't, and then it's going to happen again, when someone else wins and that's sort of where we are.

COOPER: Right. But if the Biden team -- the transition team has shady meetings with, you know, people carrying ballot boxes, I could understand that, you know, the Trump team had, you know, contacts with Russians and Flynn, you know, people actually sent to prison.

You know, just because people have suspicions if there's no there, there, and the courts show that there's not, don't responsible Republican senators have to like stand up.

SHIELDS: Well, that will be quicker, right, the courts -- the Courts will determine this at a much quicker fashion than the Mueller investigation.


SHIELDS: We will know within a few weeks.

COOPER: Thankfully.

SHIELDS: That this election is over, and that these votes have been counted. And then whatever challenges have gone through the proper process will have gone through the proper process and we will have an answer. Unlike the Mueller investigation, which dragged on for two years, and there are millions of Democrats to this day, even though Donald Trump just got 70 million votes, who still believe that Russia elected him over Hillary Clinton. They still believe that because they told him that.

COOPER: Van, you don't see Republicans questioning the races and states that they won. Senator Lindsey Graham even acknowledged that today saying the states Trump won are quote, "not in question." What do you see as the endgame for Republicans here?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Why are they acting like this? If you're a Democrat, you look at this, it's bewildering. They're actually playing two games at the same time. There's a legal game that they are playing. If they can tie this up in court, if they can create enough doubt, then they are hoping that the states just won't certify the elections. There'll be enough confusion, enough chaos.

And if the states don't certify these elections, it goes to the House of Representatives, where Donald Trump has a very good chance of being named President of the United States because the Constitution and our laws says, if it winds up in the House, it's the states, not the individual Congress people, but the states pick, and there are strikingly more red states than blue.

So there's a legal trigger they're trying to pull here, throw enough garbage in everybody's faces that maybe these elections don't get certified, they can steal it in the House.

Then there's a political game that he is playing, which is just to keep the Republican base outraged and consolidated around grievance and the politics of grievance so that they will not respect or support or help Joe Biden to govern.

So they are playing two, I think despicable games at the same time. The damage that they are doing, is that you've got to have these termites eating into the fate of ordinary people in our system, which is a dangerous game to play. You don't know when you play that game too long until the floor falls out from under you as a country.

COOPER: Mike, the strategy from, you know, Rudy Giuliani leading the legal team. I'm not sure how many Republican senators really want to get on that train. But, you know, the strategy seems of sowing doubt, as Van said, trying to have the election decided by state legislators.

You know, Republican leaders in four states that Biden won are saying they won't participate in that. Are you worried at all about damages they will do in the future?

SHIELDS: No. And I think it's really important to follow up with what Van said so that people don't get to hear that and get a little too concerned. That may be a legal strategy, you know, legal experts, including one that was just on saying, it's not going to work because I don't think anyone should have any fear that that strategy would actually come to fruition.

I think the second point that Van made was actually the long term more important one, which is, look, I think Donald Trump will probably file for re-election in February and create a campaign committee, and I think he is talking to the base of the Republican Party. He still is going to have a power within the Republican Party's base. They are the ones who gave him this power and they give him this power.

The reason why you have other elected Republicans who are supporting the President, supporting some of these actions is because their grassroots activists back home expect them to do it.

And so he has power within the Republican Party and he is going to keep exercising that until he doesn't have it.


COOPER: Do you think he'll actually run though? I mean, I get the whole -- I think you're right, I get the strategy. I mean, it would make perfect sense whether or not he plans to run or not, it keeps him, you know, in the center and options are open, but you actually think he would run four years from now?

SHIELDS: You know, I don't know. I think that he wants to kind of make that decision and have a lot of control and a lot of say over it and he has himself in a position to be able to do that.

COOPER: Yes. Van, I mean, the idea of the Donald Trump hanging over the head of Republicans on the Senate who have their own presidential ambitions, you know, it can do endless -- I mean, you think -- you know, there's a lot of Democrats in America who are sick of Donald Trump.

I'm sure, you know, by the next two years of him hanging over their heads, there's going to be a lot of Republican senators who want to be President who wish he would go away.

JONES: Well, they may wish that right now. We have a challenge in this country we've never faced before. You know, earlier, the discussion about Democrats not accepting the outcome of the 2016 election.

Well, the reality is Hillary Clinton did. She didn't like it. She was frustrated. She thought she hadn't been treated fair, but she conceded and accepted.

You didn't have a former President or a former presidential nominee stalking around the country trying to de-legitimate an election that they lost. It's never happened before.

And you know, it does create a situation where the Republican Party has not been able to cough up this fur ball. They just cannot get themselves to expel what has been obviously even, you know now, someone who is kind of unworthy of another position.

COOPER: Van Jones and Mike Shields, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, more on the milestone that no one wants to reach, a quarter of a million coronavirus deaths and growing here in the United States. Plus comments from Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar today raising more questions about how serious the Trump administration has taken this crisis, when we continue.



COOPER: Breaking news from the top of the program. Quarter of a million deaths from coronavirus. That grim milestone being crossed here in the United States in just 10 months. President Trump continues to hamper the response to the pandemic Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said today his department won't work with Joe Biden's team until the General Services Administration makes a determination that Biden is the president-elect.


ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We've made it very clear that when GSA makes a determination, we will ensure complete cooperative professional transitions and planning. But that's -- we follow the guidance. We're about getting vaccines and therapeutics invented and get the clinical trial data and saving lives here. That's where our focus is as we go forward with our efforts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Saving lives, that's where his focus is getting vaccines out. President-elect Biden is one and getting the vaccine distributed could lag as a result of his team not being able to work with the administration. Biden administration will be integral in actually getting the vaccine out.

As we reported earlier, Dr. Anthony Fauci told USA Today he hasn't spoken to the Biden team about the coronavirus response, but he would like to. Want to talk about it with CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen an emergency room physician and former Baltimore Health Commissioner.

So, Sanjay, Dr. Wen you are two people we've spoken to together countless times in the beginning of this pandemic on the program and town hall. So, I just want to get both your reactions tonight on this horrific milestone. A quarter of a million people in this country have died now. And the numbers are going up Sanjay.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean that and counting, right? I mean, this is a milestone, but we blow by these milestones. And it's really sad. Anderson, it's I mean, it's really dispiriting. I mean, no matter how you look at it, I didn't really think we would get to this number. But here we are in so many of the deaths that we talked about were preventable. And I know those families who watch your program every night who've lost loved ones, they don't like to hear that their loved ones death was preventable. But, you know, so many of these deaths were preventable. And if you look at the death rate in the United States, and you compare it to other countries around the world, I mean, we have the most deaths, we have the most deaths. I never imagined that the best we would be able to do in this country was to be the worst in the world. And yet, here we are.

So you know, I am, I don't know reflection. I'm curious to see what Leana says as well. But I think you know, as doctors you always sort of have this mentality, prepare for the worst hope for the best. But I really -- you know, even as I heard the numbers early on, I never thought we would really get to this point of 250,000 but it's also a reminder that there's so much that we can still do and so many lives that can still be saved through some of the measures we've been talking about.

COOPER: You know, Dr. Wen it took us 10 months to get to a quarter million dead in this country, which is horrific. According to the latest projections, if it continues to go on the trend that we are now and people continue not to wear masks at the level that they're not wearing masks now. We could have according to I think the -- you know, Chris Murray's team 400,000 deaths by I think it was February 1st. So we can -- it took 10 months to get to a quarter million we could get closer -- we could close to double that, you know by March or April. You know, I guess depending on the efficacy of the vaccine and the ability to actually get it distributed, but we know it's going to take time to get it distributed.

[20:35:19] LEANA WEN, FMR BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: And I think Anderson, what we've been saying all along, and Sanjay and I were also having this conversation at 1,000 deaths and thinking, how can we prevent from getting to 10,000? Or we've crossed the 100,000 threshold? How can we prevent the next 100,000 every time we said, the future isn't preordained? It's not inevitable, there are things that we can do to change the trajectory just as there is now. We've seen in the absence of federal leadership that states and local officials, and that individuals have really stepped up and made some profound sacrifices, have made the right policy decisions by policymakers. But also individuals have done some really hard things.

And I would just urge everyone that the end is actually in sight with these two promising vaccines. We just have to get through this winter, we can do it, we can put off celebrating Thanksgiving in person, let's have Thanksgiving in July. And we can do this. We've done it before we can rally together as a country and prevent us from having this conversation when we get to the next grim milestone.

COOPER: Yes, I mean Sanjay the idea that, you know, Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert says he hasn't, you know, can't talk to the Biden transition team, they don't want to put him in a compromised position is so crazy. The idea that in the next several months, there could be hundreds thousands more deaths, which is what is predicted hundreds of thousands more than, you know, as many as 150,000, 200,000 by March.


COOPER: The idea that people could die is on the cusp of a vaccine that could save people. The idea that you could have that much more death, it's like, you know, soldiers who are killed, you know, hours before peace is declared. I mean, it, you know, it's like during the AIDS crisis, when you had people in the early '90s, you know, dying, just, you know, days before, you know, the life saving drugs, the cocktail came out.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that's the thing, Anderson. I mean, there's I guess two minds, you know, you hear as Leana said, that there is hope on the horizon. I mean, that that is worth celebrating what seems to be, you know, this warranted optimism around these vaccines. But are you going to be somebody who says, you know, what, it's coming? I don't need to do anything. In the meantime, I can just, you know, wait it out? Or are you going to be somebody, like Dr. Wen is saying, you're going to lean in at this point and say, hey, we could save 100,000 lives, that could be part of a movement that saves 100,000 lives. And then the vaccine comes, and it will make a significant difference in the trajectory of this pandemic, who are you going to be at this point? Are you going to rise to the occasion or not?

COOPER: Dr. Wen you wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, in which, you know, say, we should all stop talking about a national lockdown that it's a distraction. And I think it's a really important point that you make, because it allows people to make the argument, this binary choice between well, you know, wear masks or, you know, that, you know, I don't want to lock down. It's not a binary choice. WEN: That's right. And there's been this confusing message that President Trump actively perpetuated this whole time about. Either you do nothing, or you stay in a basement and don't get out, when we know that that is just a false choice. Because there's so much that we can do like wearing masks like targeting these high risk settings. And I think by talking about a lockdown, it really is distracting us from doing these practical measures. And frankly, a national lockdown it's just not going to happen. But we have governors that have not even implemented mask mandates. We're never going to get a national lockdown. Also 49% of people only say that they are going to abide by a another stay at home order if one comes along. And so, let's talk about the practical things that we can do to save lives.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Wen, Sanjay, thanks so much. Appreciate your time as always.

(voice-over): More breaking news. Just ahead, Georgia Secretary of State is certain who the winner will be once the state concludes this recount of that next. We'll examine the two Senate runoff election set for early January in Georgia. The question is could they get out the vote effort led by Stacey Abrams, especially among black women pay huge dividends for Democrats.



COOPER: More breaking election news. Georgia's republican Secretary of State says he believes President-elect Biden will be the victor as the state prepares to conclude its election audit tomorrow. With that declaration those two U.S. Senate run off elections in the state in early January when they continue to accelerate in importance. One key for both parties obviously voter turnout for the Democrats. They believe they have an edge and those efforts led by former Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams, who lost a close race for governor in 2018. An edge particularly among black women.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Georgia for us tonight.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's do it again.

LAH: -- the heart of where Democrats flip Georgia blue.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Let people that vote for you (INAUDIBLE) times two.

LAH: Jihan Gary helps get out the vote for January's crucial Senate runoff election.


LAH: Do you think you can do it again. GARY: I think we can do it again. We're going to give -- I think we got a fighting chance. And I know the Republicans are mad as hell. But at the same time, it's a new day.

LAH: She did not expect this just two years ago.

GARY: It was disrespectful. It was absolutely disrespectful.

LAH: Gary, like so many other black voters were angry with what happened to then Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams.

Did discouraged you when she lost in 2018. How did it affect you?

GARY: I was pissed.

LAH: The Democrat lost the race by 55,000 votes, one marred by allegations of voter suppression mainly among black voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to go back out in January 5th?

LAH: Abrams is last set a wildfire under the grassroots movement. She helped build for years. A movement that now turns to the to Senate runoff seats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator David Perdue and Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock.

LAH: Democrats Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock are running against Republican incumbent senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. And races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to make sure that you are registered to vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two Senate seats in the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you planning on voting for the runoff election?

LAH: This is Georgia STAND-UP one of several voting rights groups in the state. In the run up to November, it and other grassroots groups that had worked with Abrams hit the pavement hard, registering new voters, motivating black turnout, and help with Georgia for the Democrats in the presidential race for the first time in two decades.

DEBORAH SCOTT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIA STAND-UP: I was surprised it took so long, but I wasn't surprised that it would happen. And I won't be surprised if what happens in January.

LAH: Deborah Scott has been in this fight for nearly 20 years.

SCOTT: We also have vote today.

LAH: When it comes to Georgia's voting rights, it's black women leading the charge.

SCOTT: Black women leading organizations and organizing and canvassing and phone banking, and organizing youth and organizing churches and organizing in every pocket of Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Print you name, decide it there.

LAH: At the senior center, every worker helping these residents fill out absentee ballot applications is a black woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strong woman is behind the Democratic Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is women that are really driving this ground game.

LAH: So do you think that black women are the ones who flipped the state of Georgia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the highest demographic in the turnout of any other besides our white. So, I would say, yes, we do.


COOPER: That was Kyung Lah reporting. For all the optimism Democrats are voicing about the Senate races, history shows a recent runoff elections in Georgia have not bet with much success for the party.

Joining me now is the democratic mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms, I mean, both sides agreed these runoff elections are going to come down to turnout. Black women have shown up for the Democratic Party for as long they have had the vote. And it is extraordinary what black women have done in this most recent election. Do you think there's going to be the same kind of turnout for this run off?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D) ATLANTA: So that's going to be the important part. And you're absolutely right, Anderson, even going back to the women's suffrage March, women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, who didn't have the right to vote at that time marched alongside women for the right to vote. And so, it's so important that we not just rely on African-American women, we are reliable part of the Democratic Party. But that's why towards the end of the campaign, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ran an ad with mayors, women mayor's speaking to men who run cities to talk about how important it is for men to also show up to vote.

So, it's going to take everyone this is not going to be easy. This vote with Joe Biden, just a few weeks ago was -- it was a very, very slim margin. So, people see that it can happen that Georgia can remain blue. But we can't stay home and rely on one demographic to make that happen.

COOPER: How do you think what the President is claiming about voter fraud, all of it? You know, the idea of widespread voter fraud is baseless. But do you think it does it, you know, rile up his base to get them out? Does it -- there's some Republicans who thought it might, you know, suppress Republican turnout, because they think oh, things are rigged. What -- why go through this? Do you think it angers Democrats enough that it brings them? I mean, how do you think it plays electorally?

BOTTOMS: This has been a fascinating year, especially if you watch politics to even see the Republican president turn on the Republican Secretary of State whom he endorsed and if you watch his Twitter feed --

COOPER: We'll turn on anybody, if the situation warrants it seems.

BOTTOMS: He will eat his own children, I'm sure if it will, if he found it proven. But he's now picking a fight with Brian Kemp, also the governor, he was closely allied with. And so, what -- it's my hope, that even if people did not vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris said, they will be so disappointed and disgusted by this behavior. As you look at the transition, the lack of transition that's happening, you look at our COVID numbers that are arising in the state and across the country. There's so many reasons not to be supportive of Donald Trump at this point, and any candidates who are aligned with him.

So, it's my hope that when people go back to the polls on January 5th, they will remember that. Because in Georgia, Joe Biden got a nice portion of Republican leaning votes in this state and also many independent swing voters in the state went for Joe Biden, and it's our hope that will happen January 5th.


COOPER: You know, as Kyung Lah reported, the anger disappointment over Stacey Abrams losing bid for Governor 2018 help fuel turnout in 2020. I'm wondering the -- do you have a sense of what more needs to happen on the ground now in between now and the run off?

BOTTOMS: I think a lot of things need to happen. People who didn't show up need to show up and vote. We've got to remind people why this is important. So many people think that the work was done when they went to vote in November, many people don't even realize that there is a run off. Many people don't understand the significance and importance of having the Senate to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So, we've got to educate people, we've got to turn people out to vote. And we have to remind them that while this is a national conversation and all eyes are on Georgia, which is really important and exciting, at the end of the day, the people of this state have the right to vote and to make a difference in this election.

So, we got to find them in every nook and cranny. And we've just got to remind people of what happened with President Obama when he didn't have the Senate, and how so much good work was stalled. So like I said, it's going to be education. It's going to be turnout, but it's going to be a lot of work through January.

COOPER: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, appreciate your time. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

COOPER: Want to check in with Chris, see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris,

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing Coop? We're looking at the head in the heart tonight. It seems like Rudy Giuliani has exposed his strategy. I honestly don't believe they think they're going to win in court. I honestly believe that they are abusing the judiciary as a political ploy. That they think they can raise enough questions even if they're all getting thrown out in court. The latest is the third iteration of the same suit in Pennsylvania that has been rejected. The latest iteration says 1.5 million ballots in seven different counties shouldn't have been counted.


CUOMO: And the proof, news articles that he attaches. I think the play is that we'll discuss on the show with Bernie Sanders and Michael Smerconish and others is to just create enough political doubt to create pressure hoping that state legislatures will guide away from the vote and pick electors that are faithless, essentially to the state's vote. It's a long shot, but boy, is it ugly.

We're also going to talk about poverty in America. There's no such thing as food insecurity. It's called going hungry and it's happening more than at any time since the Great Depression. We'll take you inside the problem and the inaction by our leaders.

COOPER: All right, Chris, see you in about eight minutes from now.

As we've been discussing the other day, in Washington, still no formal recognition by the Trump administration of any transition go ahead.

(voice-over): This person Emily Murphy is head of the GSA remarkably holds the keys. We've been trying to get answers from her, she's not talking. Do have some new reporting and what she might be thinking. That's next.



COOPER: Like it or not, Emily Murphy is fast becoming something of a household name. She's an attorney and Trump appointee who leads the General Services Administration. So far, she's refused to sign off on one until now had become fairly routine the transition paperwork from the outgoing Trump administration, to the new Biden administration.

CNN's Kristen Holmes joins me now with some insight into what some of her friends are saying about her and about her job. So what are you learning about why she hasn't signed off yet?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, first I want to note, you know, we talked to friends, colleagues, former colleagues, all of whom, not all but most, I will say, of them didn't actually agree with how she was handling this. But they did give us some insight into why she was handling it the way that she was. They said that she was struggling that she's receiving death threats from both Democrats and Republicans. But she's holding steady, because she believes that she's following precedent.

Now, obviously, Anderson, as we know, there is no precedent for what we're going through right now. However, for the GSA, the General Services Administration, when they sign off on the selection, that is really in modern history, and in modern history, since they've had this task, there's only been one other time that a candidate has not conceded. And that was in 2000, with Al Gore, and George Bush. That is the precedent that we are told she is looking at as she makes this decision.

Now, again, another thing I want to point out here, we have spoken to multiple transition experts. We have even heard from the GSA administrator, who is in her position in 2000, a Clinton employee of the administration, who had to ascertain that George Bush was the president and all of them say that this is just simply not the same situation that Biden has far beyond reached the threshold to win this election. But again, this is how she is interpreting these rules.

COOPER: And do we have any idea when she will ascertain the election? I mean, are there any benchmarks that needs to be hidden her mind? You know, who knows if there's going to be as a concession coming from President Trump?

HOLMES: Right -- well, that's right. That's the big question. And I have asked it to every single person who is talking to our nose or has ever met her on the street. And there simply doesn't seem to be an answer at this time. We know that last Friday after that disastrous day in court for President Trump that that move the dial forward, but not enough clearly, because we have still not ascertained to this election. So that's what we're watching for. Is it going to be the results of the Georgia recount. Is it going to be all these states certifying. But again, as we know, the longer time that we wait, the shorter the transition and the more risks there are for both national security and the coronavirus response.

COOPER: Yes. Kristine Holmes, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Reminder, don't miss Full Circle our digital new show that gives us a chance to dig into some important topics, have in depth conversations that might not hear it on a nightly program. You can catch it streaming live 6:00 p.m. Eastern at /fullcircle or watch it there on the CNN app at anytime On Demand.

The news continues right now, I want to handover Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.

CUOMO: My man, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Primetime.