Return to Transcripts main page
Whitmer Says Trump Incites Domestic Terrorism; Early Voting Kicks off in Swing States; Pelosi Sets Deadline for Deal; Kidnapping Plot Training Video. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired October 19, 2020 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Track approach and it's an effort to replicate the 2016 --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: If there's (INAUDIBLE) chess going on. And I think it's tic-tac-toe. I mean I don't even think it's checkers. I think this is, at this point, you have a pandemic where thousands and thousands of Americans have died and cases are rising and the president's image, instead of fighting that reality, enforce it when he's speaking at large rallies with unmasked people, when he's staging these super spreader events, and when he's attacking governors who are trying to battle the pandemic. It's -- you know, we call it a strategy. I'm -- I -- other people have referred to it as political suicide.
TALEV: People think it is.
BERMAN: Yes, yes, I'm not sure it is a strategy. You know, maybe closer to political suicide.
On the Governor Whitmer front, Errol, because I do think this matters, I think, to voters around the country when violence is incited. This is how Governor Whitmer -- there are people who were arrested and right now suspected of plotting to kidnap and murder her. This is how she responded to the president's rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): You know, it's -- it's incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States, ten days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me -- ten days after that was uncovered, the president is at it again and inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism. It is wrong. It's got to end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Errol, how does it play with swing voters, with people who may be undecided at this late stage? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if there are any, and
the polls aren't necessarily picking them up, there are very few of them, but that -- that is an argument that may resonate with them. The -- the -- just the simple slogan, it's got to end.
This has always been one of the most serious and unacceptable parts of this presidency. You know, to -- to joke about it, I think it was Lara Trump over the weekend who said, oh, the president was just having some fun when they talk about imprisoning political opponents, when they laugh off the idea that a sitting governor of a U.S. state could be murdered. This is not for regular people. This is not terribly funny. This is not all in good fun. Some of the videos that have come out of some of these violent extremists looking in the camera, cursing the police, saying that they want to kill police, they want to kill security, they want to kill politicians and so forth, people are not going to respond to that. This is not something that's going to be laughed off as a joke.
This, in the end, I think, is going to cost the president. And when they -- by the way, when they look at something like that Tulsa rally that collapsed so horribly, people can make up their minds, you know? They may not necessarily tell the pollsters, they may not necessarily give every indication of how they're going to vote, but people don't want any part of this. And unless there's a more effective response to it, I think this is going to hurt the president badly in the last two weeks.
BERMAN: Errol, Margaret, thank you both so much for being with us this morning.
LOUIS: Thank you.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Voters lining up in states across the country this weekend, 27 million ballots already cast. A preview of what's to come this week, next.
BERMAN: So as of this morning, more than 27 million votes have already been cast in the 2020 election. That's almost 20 percent of the total number of ballots cast in 2016. Fifteen days left to cast your vote. Over the weekend, a lot of people, you can see, lining up to vote in person.
CNN's Kristen Holmes live in Washington with the very latest.
Today, even more states allow in-person early voting.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this has been really incredible. As you say, we're still two weeks out from the election.
And I want to show you some video here of the lines in the battleground state of Georgia over the weekend. They have seen 152 percent increase in turnout compared to this time in 2016.
Now, as you said, there are six more states starting their early voting today. You've got Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, and Florida. All eyes are going to be on Florida. It's only 52 of the 67 counties that will start today, but, John, some of them are the most critical counties we always talk about at the election, Broward County, Miami-Dade, Duvall County. So at of eyes on that state today.
BERMAN: And, Kristen, obviously, the president has been trying, I think, inappropriately, to raise questions about the integrity of the election. There's been no reports of mass fraud. Everything has run relatively smoothly at this point. But you have some new reporting on the Democrats' plans to make this clear.
HOLMES: That's right, John.
So we're looking at an umbrella here of two different scenarios that Democrats are preparing for. One is that President Trump disputes the results in court or on Capitol Hill. The other is that Biden wins, President Trump says it's a rigged election and he refuses a peaceful transfer of power.
So, on the first front, that's legal, Capitol Hill, we know that the campaign has put out hundreds of lawyers all across the country. They are studying up on any sort of election law, including a scenario that looked like 2000 with Bush v. Gore, even though election experts say that's unlikely.
You also have Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are studying arcane election law just in case this ends up on the Capitol.
Now, on the other front, when it comes to rigged election, refusing a peaceful transfer of power, that's going to be a messaging war. And Democrats are very concerned that they don't have the same horsepower to combat Trump's messaging and his Twitter account, say, if he were to claim victory prematurely on an election night. So they are working with social media companies to discourage any sort of premature declaration of victory or calling of the election.
And they're also really starting to double down on their own messaging, which is, even if there is not a result on election night, which there likely won't be, that does not mean that there is any sort of fraud. They are trying to hammer that home.
BERMAN: That's right, we will know who won when the ballots are counted, wherever that is.
Kristen Holmes, thank you, as always, for your reporting. Appreciate it.
HILL: New this morning, CNN has learned a top White House official met with members of the Assad regime this fall in an effort to free American prisoners believed to be held by Syria. Administration officials say the trip was made this fall with the support of President Trump and in coordination with the State Department. The U.S. and Syria have not had diplomatic relations since 2012.
CNN previously reported President Trump wrote a letter to Assad earlier this year offering direct dialogue about journalist Austin Tice, one of the American prisoners.
BERMAN: Raging wildfires are forcing new evacuation orders this morning in Colorado and Utah. A new fire broke out Sunday in Boulder County, Colorado, where firefighters continue to battle the county's largest fire on record that began a day earlier. The Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire in Colorado's history, has burned more than 200,000 acres.
HILL: A missing hiker has been found 12 days after she disappeared. Holly Courtier was last seen entering Zion National Park on October 6th. Search and rescue teams finally located her Sunday after a park visitor told rangers they spotted her. She is hospitalized. No details, though, on her condition. Her family says they are overjoyed she was found safely.
BERMAN: The Los Angeles Dodgers heading back to the World Series for the third time in four years. Cody Bellinger with a seven-inning dinger there. That was the difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cody Bellinger has done it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Sure did. The Dodgers beat the Braves 4-3 in game seven in the National League's championship series. L.A. trailed the series 3-1, but won three games in a row to advance to the World Series. The Dodgers will face the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays. Game one is Tuesday night.
Nancy Pelosi giving the White House until tomorrow to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal before the election. We have new reporting on how close they may or may not be and what's in the deal.
HILL: Developing this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have until tomorrow to reach an agreement if they want to pass a coronavirus stimulus relief bill before Election Day.
CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now.
All right, until tomorrow? CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. Time
really running out here to get critical aid to American families after these months, Erica, of on again, off again talks between the two sides. Five months, actually, after Democrats passed their first $3.4 trillion package.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Forty-eight (ph) only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Well, don't you? Yes.
PELOSI: Yes. So which we do. But we're saying to them, we have to freeze the design on some of these things. Are we going with it or not? And what is the language? I'm optimistic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: She's optimistic. There's almost universal agreement more stimulus is desperately needed. But they've been arguing about how much to spend and how to spend it. Economist Diane Swonk on what needs to be in this deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Well, we know now that the most effective bang for the dollar is help and aid to households. That supplements in those unemployment insurance checks. We also know there needs to be money for testing and tracing and some aid for business. But, more importantly, there needs to be money in transfers for the states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Swonk says without aid to the states, you can expect layoffs. Remember, the states pay the paychecks for police departments, fire houses, schools.
Now, Pelosi is adamant that at the heart of the deal must be stopping the spread of this virus. The speaker said the White House has watered down language on testing and tracing.
Plus, there's still a block of GOP senators who don't want to spend $2 trillion. They're going to be hard to convince. More talks, Erica, are scheduled for this afternoon. A phone conversation is scheduled for this afternoon.
HILL: Well, as we wait for more information out of Washington, China reporting some really strong economic numbers overnight. So what did we learn there, Christine?
ROMANS: You know, Erica, Chinese officials say the economy grew 4.9 percent in the third quarter, building on the 3.2 percent increase in the second quarter. China got the virus under control and avoided the pandemic recession that crippled the rest of the world. And here's why. Really strict lockdowns early to contain the virus, extensive testing, tracing, and monitoring of its citizens, and hundreds of billions of dollars from the government to boost spending. In fact, the Chinese have now begun buying U.S. soybeans again. That's essential for Midwestern farmers hammered by the U.S./China trade war.
China, Erica, may be on track to be the only major economy to grow this year. The U.S. economy likely grew sharply in the third quarter. We expect maybe as much as a record 35 percent. But now, here, there are concerns that the virus is not contained, the economy has flat lined again this fall.
HILL: Wow. Amazing.
All right, Christine, appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you.
ROMANS: You too.
HILL: Disturbing new details about the suspects in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor. Those details are next.
BERMAN: We have new details this morning about the suspects involved in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. And it includes new video that appears to show at least one suspect conducting field training exercises.
CNN's Sara Sidner has the very latest.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You are looking at evidence that was played in federal court of the field training exercises federal prosecutors say were carried out in a plot to storm Michigan's capital and kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
CNN affiliate, WXMI, obtained the video from the U.S. attorney's office after the preliminary hearings for six men federally charged with conspiracy to kidnap a sitting governor. Several pieces of federal evidence were played in court, including this video of suspect Brandon Caserta ranting about the government.
BRANDON CASERTA, SUSPECT: I'm sick of being robbed and enslaved by the state, period. I'm sick of it. And these are the guys who are actually doing it, you know? So if -- if, you know, if -- if we're doing a recon or something and we come up on some of them, dude, you better not give them a chance. You either tell them to go right now or else they're going to die, period. That's what it's going to be, dude, because they are the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) enemy.
SIDNER: The suspects' alleged deeds and words were shown to the federal judge so she could decide if there was enough evidence to go to a grand jury. In this video, the lead FBI agent acknowledged in testimony that defendant Adam Fox is inside a basement appearing to be speed reloading his weapon to, quote, minimize the time that your weapon is inoperable, in case of a gunfight. Prosecutors say the video was taken inside this vacuum shop in Grand Rapids.
SIDNER (on camera): The owner of this vacuum shop says Adam Fox lived here for the last couple of weeks. He says he lived behind this door and down into the basement.
BRIANT TITUS, STORE OWNER: Basement where he stayed.
TITUS: And he was only going to stay there until 1 November.
SIDNER: Why did you decide it was time for him to go?
TUTUS: He was buying more like attachments for like an AR-15 and he was buying like food. And I'm not stupid. I was in the Marine Corps. So that -- I told him he had to go.
SIDNER (voice over): Briant Titus says he had no idea what was going on in his business' basement after hours.
The FBI testified this is inside another defendant's basement where you can see an arsenal of weapons in a gun locker, including an illegal short-barrel rifle. Beyond the videos, the FBI says they also infiltrated encrypted chats and text chains, laying out the plot. In one encrypted chat, the suspects allegedly used code names and discussed killing Governor Whitmer, not just kidnapping her. The FBI identified the code name "Beaker" as suspect Daniel Harris, who write, laying in bed, craziest idea, have one person go to her house, knock on the door, and when she answers, just cap her. At this point, f it. Someone with the code name "Tex" responds, lol, only if it would be that easy. Beaker replies, I mean f-ing catch her walking into a building and act last passers buy and fixing dome her, then yourself whoever does it. Why create a manhunt. Do it in broad daylight and then end it. Tex replies, good point or recon the house and snipe her.
The alleged plot was never carried out. The six men, along with seven others, were arrested in an October FBI raid. Six were charged federally. The rest charged by the state for acts of terror.
SIDNER: We are now learning an eighth suspect has been arrested in the state's case, bringing the total number of people allegedly involved in this plot to 14. Now, we heard back from one of the defendant's attorneys. Federal suspect Ty Garbin's attorney told us as soon as his client learned of this alleged plot, he disavowed it and withdrew from it and he's innocent of all charges. Now, it goes without saying that all of the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Back to you.
HILL: All right, Sara Sidner, thank you for that reporting. We're going to take a little shift here, take a turn. "Saturday Night Live" taking on the Trump and Biden dueling town halls.
Here's a look at your late night laugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last week you tweeted that Osama bin Laden is still alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't tweet it. It was a re-tweet, which is short for really smart tweet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, but you -- you can't just do things like that, you're not just someone's crazy uncle, you know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Because this conversation we're having right now is a preview of Thanksgiving dinner at a lot of American households. So crazy uncles, stand back and stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you see, each tree has its own personality, just like America. Does that answer your question, Justin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I say yes, can I sit down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we're going to have a v-shaped recovery, a deep "v," with rippling pecs and a toned 8-pack. A swimmer's body, basically like I have after COVID, and it's going to be beautiful!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question was, why won't you release your taxes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's simple, because I don't want to go to jail. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So it happened. I mean I think we have definitive proof that "Saturday Night Live" was on TV.
HILL: Yes. Where you going with this?
BERMAN: Yes, that's it! I mean I think that's the most we can say about it.
BERMAN: We called it late night laughs. That may be a misnomer in this case. It was on late night.
HILL: It was on late. There were some -- some funny lines.
BERMAN: There were laughs.
BERMAN: I'll have to take your word for it. We'll take that under advisement.
HILL: Meantime, NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health officials from coast to coast are scrambling to contain the rising rate of infections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Experts worry that fatigue over masks and social distancing could add up to a new surge in coronavirus cases this winter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not succeeding at combatting the virus. The virus is now winning.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The light at the end of the tunnel is near. Don't listen to the cynics and angry partisans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you surprised that President Trump got sick?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.
Alisyn is off. Erica Hill is with me this morning in the studio.
HILL: It's exciting to be in the studio.
BERMAN: Yes. Could have been here for the last hour.
HILL: We're here now.
BERMAN: We're here now. That's what's important. It's great to be here.
All right, I want you to listen to these warnings. Former FDA commissioner, the former FDA commissioner, says the biggest coronavirus wave yet is just beginning.
Michael Osterholm, one of the country's leading epidemiologists, says this will be the darkest six to 12 weeks of the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci says we are definitely not on the road to getting out of this.
The United States is now averaging more than 56,000 new cases a day. That's up more than 60 percent since the middle of last month. We had 70,000 cases on Friday. Cases rising now in 27 states. All you have to do is look at the map there and see all the orange and red.
And the beige, by the way, just means that cases are steady. And, in some cases, steady at a very dangerous level.
Some of these states that are most troubled right now.