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CNN Live Event/Special

Biden Pledges To Be A President Who Unifies The Nation; Sources: Jared Kushner Has Approached Trump About Conceding; President-Elect Biden: It's Time To Put Away The Harsh Rhetoric; Cities Erupt In Celebration After Biden Elected President; President- Elect Biden: This Is The Time To Heal In America; Harris: Biden Had "The Audacity" To Select A Woman As V.P.; Harris Makes History As First Woman Elected U.S. Vice President. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 07, 2020 - 23:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Good to see you, sharing history once again. And tonight is a big night for America. What does it mean? Well, we'll discuss it together.

But we know this. For now, we have a President Elect Joe Biden. He came out, he addressed the nation and gave a call to give each other a chance, he said. That this is a time to heal. And literally, he's right. We are sick from COVID right now, and a poison politics that is every bit as virulent. Don, how you're feeling?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It's - I almost can't talk right now, because of the emotion that we will get to. So I'm not sure how much I want to say right off the top. But, you know, I've said all along, we have two viruses that's infecting this country, and that's COVID and racism.

And what we witnessed tonight was the complete opposite of racism, with the diversity, with the acknowledgement of all kinds of people, with someone saying they want to represent every kind of American, even the people who didn't vote for him. We had been starving for that in this country. And it has nothing to do with being a Democrat or Republican, or being Conservative, or Independent, or Liberal. It's about human decency.

So I have to be quite honest with you, the entire day I was asleep, because we got off this - we got off the air at what seven this morning. I forget it's been going back and forth, 7, 8, 9; we got here at 7 o'clock this morning. I went ahead and had breakfast with my fiance, right. I'm a black man, a gay American. I live in New York City.

I went ahead and had breakfast with my fiance. I haven't had time - that much time to spend with him. We had breakfast. I went home, I went to sleep. I am staying in a hotel because of these crazy hours not far from here. I heard - I'm on the 40th floor, Chris. I heard people cheering 40 floors below me. And I woke up and I said what is going on?

And I opened the drapes and I could see the city around me people were cheering in New York City. I turn the television on. And there were my colleagues announcing that Joe Biden had become the president elect of the United States, and not to forget, Kamala Harris, the first black woman. I didn't expect to be so overwhelmed by that.

I didn't realize the PTSD, that many marginalized people, that African-Americans, women, Latinos, people of color, all kind of White people - PTSD that people are feeling around this country, because we have had whiplash from someone who only cares about himself and not uniting people.

Chris over just the last 6, 7, 8 months, you and I have been together. You have been - you were sick. I was - I worried, I thought one of my best friends was going to die. I cried on the air. We have more than 200,000 Americans who have died. And as a journalist, we have an obligation to tell the truth.

And we have been telling the truth about what this administration, this President has been doing with this virus. And so you got sick. I've lost - I lost a close childhood friend, I lost a close adult friend. Both of them died from complications from COVID. And then along came George Floyd. And I had to sit in cover that story - we all did, about a man who died on the street and we all watch it on videotape, from someone who seemed to not care about human life, just sat there with his knee on the neck. And we had all these protests around the country.

So immediately, my thoughts went back to these protests that happened this summer and when I saw and heard what was happening today, all I can think of was - think of was, how could we not have expected that if Joe Biden became the president elect of the United States that the streets would not erupt after what had happened in this country?

Just - and I'm just talking about the last eight months. I'm not talking about all the stuff that we dealt with before - the fake news and people yelling at us on the street and people calling me nigger and fag and all kinds of things, and you're fake news and all of that. Never before that I've been in this business since 1991, have I ever had to deal with the crap that I've had to deal with over the last four years. It is disgusting.

And so just over the last months - last couple months, we've had all of that. And over the past few nights we have been saying, we're going to give you some information. We don't know who's going to win. We're going to - America was - and they're yelling at us, please, please call this. We are sick of it. We cannot take much more of it.

And so when the call finally came, and I saw my colleagues - and I love all of them and everybody around, they're all talking about - what about this and who's this and they were - Democrats didn't do this and Democrats - that's not what America wanted. America needed a release valve at that moment. And they wanted to get it off their chest. It was like a third world country, people who have been oppressed.

[23:05:00] Finally, the relief came that no longer that we have to live under this oppression. No longer that we have to live under people who're pretending that up is not up and down is not down, that one plus one doesn't equal two. And so I can't help but be emotional at this moment. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to say. So forgive me. I may not say all the right things tonight. I am very emotional. And guess what, I'm speaking for everyone.

But I got to tell you, when I watched that Black woman come out on stage tonight, and I saw all of those people from of all ages and all different backgrounds - the whole entire theme was everyone is welcome under this tent, we don't care who you are. We don't care if you voted for us or not. You're all part of this American experiment.

It was - I was so overwhelmed to hear that. I don't care what people think. If they think I'm biased tonight, I don't care, because I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Conservative, not I'm not a Liberal, I am an American. And we all deserve to be able to live in this country and have respect.

And what this administration and what this president doesn't do, they do not respect people, or anyone who doesn't believe what they believe. And so I'm very emotional. So when you ask me how I'm feeling right now, I'm sorry. That's all I can tell you. This is how I feel right now. I am so happy to have this platform to be able to do this.

I may not have it after this. But I really don't care. I am so happy to live in a country that has an administration that is going to go in regardless, I'm going to challenge them on their policies, I'm going to hold them to account. But when you say we're all welcome, and we're all equal in this country, amen. I'm in on that. And I love you.

CUOMO: I'm glad I asked.

LEMON: Thank you for letting - thank you for letting me say that. And I got your phone call in the middle of the day. And I loved that you were out there with your daughter in the streets with people and showing her what true diversity is and what being a true American is. It's not just performative - putting up flags and putting big flags in your yard. And I heard someone say, Oh, I don't understand why - how Joe Biden could win, because I didn't see a lot of flags and I didn't see a lot of people with big events.

That is not what this country is about. It's not about performative patriotism. It's not about who can hang the biggest flag. It's about who has the biggest heart. And who - who has class, who can turn the other cheek, who can forgive their neighbor. That's what being a real patriot is. It's not performative. It's what's - it's what you hold in here and I hope we can get back to that. That's it. I'm through for now. Thank you for letting--


CUOMO: Yes, I was going to say we both know you're not through. I'm happy I asked. And I happy you set the table with what's inside, because it's a big moment of feel. And that's good. Let me do one bit of business.

LEMON: We've got some new breaking news.

CUOMO: Obviously, this is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's moment. It was historic, especially with the inclusion of Kamala Harris coming out in that suffragette suit that she had on. She checks a lot of boxes of things that this country has been waiting on a long time to prove that it can live up to its own promise.

But it's going to take a couple of moves from now, for any real change to have a chance. And transition can be tricky. Right on the phone now I have Kaitlan Collins. The White House and who is in it matters right now. We don't know what the president is going to do. We don't know how he's going to do it. And it will matter in terms of how this country gets a true chance to move together. So Kaitlan, you're on the phone right now? What can you tell us in terms of the latest head check from inside there?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I think the most obvious thing that people thought about tonight in the background of that speech that you heard from Joe Biden was the fact that the president has not yet conceded the presidency to Joe Biden, despite him being declared the winner.

And we've now learned that Jared Kushner has approached President Trump about conceding the election, according to two sources, and what they told CNN. But, of course, the question still remains is, when is that going to happen? Has the president agreed to do so? And that's what we still don't know.

So far, he has resisted it. He's not only resisted about conceding it, he tweeted today falsely that he had won the election. So, of course, we know that is not the case. And so that is really kind of the big questions that's hanging over everyone inside the White House, is how the president approaches this, because obviously he is going to leave the White House.

He will have to leave in about 10 weeks or so when Joe Biden is inaugurated. But the question is how does the President leave? And does he actually concede publicly? Does he invite Joe Biden to the White House like typically you would see a president do when someone else wins, as Barack Obama did with Donald Trump? And that's something that, Chris, we still don't know the answer to. But we do know, Jared Kushner has approached the president about conceding the election.


CUOMO: All right. Look, that is interesting to know. The good news is -- and Kaitlan, thank you very much. You've been remarkable all through this. Thank you very much for helping, Don, and I tell the story of what was happening in this country. Thank you.

And here's the good news. It doesn't really matter what Trump wants to do and when he decides to do it, if it is not a function of fact and of due process in the courts.

LEMON: Hey, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, I hear you Don.

LEMON: Is Kaitlin still there.


LEMON: Is she gone guys?


LEMON: Producers? OK. Because I just want to ask her--

CUOMO: Oh, she's still there.

LEMON: Kaitlan I just want to ask you. OK, Kaitlin, so the president - you said that president was not open to this whole concession thing. Did they give an indication that he may be softening or that it's not going to happen until all of these cases that may not have any merit and there may not be any evidence until all of this is over? Was it any indication how long that he planned to drag the American people through this?

COLLINS (via telephone): No. And we haven't gotten any indication that he's actually softened his position and has agreed to concede. We haven't been characterized what his response to Jared Kushner approaching him about this was. We just know that this went from basically, people in the White House realized around Thursday and Friday that the President was not going to win reelection, likely. And the question was, well, who's going to approach him about it, because reality had not set in for the president at that point.

What's changed in the last 24 hours or so is, we've been told that the President does understand that the math is not there. That he has lost the election and he will note that privately. But publicly, he has still sanctioned his Attorney Rudy Giuliani and others to move forward with these law suits. So that would lead you to believe he is not ready to concede the election. And so, that's still the big question.

And the situation inside The West Wing is that the President's advisors realized that's becoming more of a problem now that we have Joe Biden giving his victory speech. We have him saying, he's going to name a COVID transition task force on Monday, moving ahead with the functions of the presidency with or without President Trump. So we do not know yet that the President is going to concede, we should make that clear.

CUOMO: Right. Kaitlin, thank you very much. He does not have to concede. It is a tradition. Constitutionally, legally, there is no need for it. And frankly, I don't understand why anybody thinks that Trump wouldn't stay true to form.

I want to play a piece of sound from Joe Biden that you would never hear from the current president. And I want to preface it this way. I feel very deeply for the people who voted for Donald Trump. And this is a complex situation, I think it's good that this election was very close, because it delivered a clear signal to the president elect, that there are a lot of people in this country that he needs to speak to that don't believe that his party has their interests at heart or in their head.

And I think it's good that that message is loud and clear for him. It's good that those people will not be forgotten. They - everybody has to come along for this place to get along. Now, that said, it takes message, and it takes moments. And we have had none of those for four years.

In his first address to the country, when he could have gone a lot of different ways, when Donald Trump decided to tell you that the carnage is over and then tore through every piece of every American fabric he could. Joe Biden decided to go a different way and he said this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself. But now, let's give each other a chance. It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They're Americans.


CUOMO: That was his first move and there will be many to follow. This is going to be a difficult couple of weeks. It's going to be a tense couple of weeks. I think that it is good for Biden and his people to push the pace. They are not abusing any tradition or any norm that is all happening on the other side of the ball, as it always has. And as I have reported all along and argued, this is a time where people must be remembered for what they did, what they said, what they did not do and what they failed to say.


Even tonight on our own air, people who were given all these pats on the back in the last couple of days for being a fair broker, even though they've come from the right, still explaining away Donald Trump's disposition towards our democracy as, well, that's the way he handles--

LEMON: That's the way he is.

CUOMO: No. There is good, and there was bad and there was right and there was wrong. Not everything is subjective. And just because somebody decides to do what is wrong, doesn't mean it's a personal style choice. That's about how you match a tie, and a handkerchief. Not about how you decide to discuss Muslims, or our democracy.

And people have to remember how people acted during this time, what they said in the media, in the GOP, and yes, in the Democratic Party as well. And you should never forget how we got here, because we can return to the same place very quickly. In fact, Donald Trump could run again--

LEMON: In 2024.

CUOMO: Now--

LEMON: This should be an inflection point.

CUOMO: It may be--

LEMON: It could be.

CUOMO: --if Biden makes good on what he said. He has to hear the people who didn't vote for him.

LEMON: But you have to have cooperation with that.

CUOMO: Absolutely. That takes us to another place. People have power. This election proves that. And for all the money, all the special interests, all the messaging, all the media, all the deception, if people come out, they win. The winner of this election without question is the American public, because they voted and participated in a way that will work for the winners and the losers. But winners have a mandate and the person they want. The losers--

LEMON: OK, let me tell you this. Let me tell you this--

CUOMO: --have the ear of that same person.

LEMON: OK. So here's the thing. I think we're all winners right now. And if you can put those pictures back up, the reason we are winners right now, it's because of what you saw this summer. You saw young people who are out on the street of all different ethnicities, whether - I think they should be more socially distance. But how do you socially distance when someone protest?

I'm happy that they're wearing masks, all right. We would prefer them to - we would prefer there not be any COVID. So I understand that there is a deadly virus out there, and I want them to protect themselves. But what we saw this summer, Chris, is the same as what we're seeing now. We're seeing young people who are saying we're sick and tired of the politics, we're sick and tired of the way the country is right now and we want it to change immediately.

And we - the folks, I call us the establishment, all of us who are over 40 years old or over, we're the establishment. We can be the beneficiaries of the leadership of these young people, if we looked to them as to how they get along. As to - they don't care who's Black, who's White, it doesn't matter.

I told you the story of your daughter. When I went to - we had a party and I thought she was going to be judging me for our costume or whatever. She looked at me and she said, "Oh, you need a scrunchie." She doesn't - they don't care. They don't really care about who's Black, who's White, who's gay, who's straight, who's transgender--

CUOMO: If they're raised right. LEMON: Who's - they don't - if they're raised right.

CUOMO: If they're raised right.

LEMON: So we can be the beneficiaries of that. We have to stop with the establishment, with the people who see things a certain way. What you saw on that stage tonight is the way that Washington DC should look. It's the way America should look. All of those pictures that you see coming out of the White House now with all white men in their 50s, 60s, 70s 80s that is not what America is. That is not what the country should--

CUOMO: Biden says he's going to have a cabinet that reflects what the country looks like. We'll see what they come up with.

LEMON: And there you go. That's we should be doing that.

CUOMO: Although, I don't know how many people he's going to get approved if the Republicans hold the Senate. It'll be a really interesting initial posture statement from McConnell--

LEMON: But the Republicans are talking about diversity. Now we've got the most diverse - it's not that diverse, right. They mean that was all of three people.

CUOMO: Well, they get a lot of shots at it because we've never seen as many members of administration get shooed out of office for scandal and potential criminality. So he got a lot of bites at the apple here from people coming in and out.

Look, I think that, I wanted to play what the president-elect said to the people who lost, because it matters. It is easy to play to advantage. That's all we've seen Donald Trump do.


CUOMO: And I think this is a very different man. I know both men.

LEMON: That's what I was - when I was looking down, producers were like, you're on camera. I was looking for that - what you were saying about, what you were going to about what he said and for those of you who did not vote for him.

CUOMO: Yes. We were just--

LEMON: That was the next line.

CUOMO: We just played it.

LEMON: But that was the line - no, no. But he - there was something more specific about the way he said it. He talked about all kinds of people and all different ethnicities, and then and then--

CUOMO: Let's play it.

LEMON: OK, all right, play it. Here it is. CUOMO: Let's play it.


BIDEN: And all those who supported us: I am proud of the campaign we built and ran. I'm proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse coalition in history. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives. Young, old, urban, suburban, rural. Gay, straight, transgender, White, Latino, Asian, native American.

I made it. Especially for those moments, and especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb - the African-American community stood up again for me. You've always had my back, and I'll have yours.

I said at the outset, I wanted to represent, this campaign to represent and look and like America. We've done that. Now that's what I want the administration to look like--



LEMON: And that's when I cried.

CUOMO: I believe it. So Joe Biden is talking the right talk for a country that needs to heal, and needs to look at each other as part of a mutual solution to a huge problem, which is called a pandemic. And one that is feasting on a divided society where literally, we think wearing a mask is making a statement.

How will he handle it? What will he do? How did he get here? These are all big questions that we will take on for you tonight. We have a great interview on the other side of this break. Don is going to be talking to a legend in Congress who was fundamental to getting Joe Biden where he is tonight, Congressman Clyburn with D Lemon after this.



LEMON: We are living history. Once again, another historic administration is coming - the Biden-Harris administration. Black voters overwhelmingly backed Biden by a margin - a margin of 87 percent to 12 percent, that's according to the exit polls, playing a very crucial role in this election.

So let's talk to the highest ranking Black American in Congress, and that's House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us, Congressman, how you doing?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I'm doing good, and thank you very much for having me.

LEMON: Yes. I spoke to you. I think, it was one week ago and here we are now.


LEMON: I have to admit. I don't know any other way. But honestly, it's been a very emotional day for me. I tweeted out earlier that I was in Grant Park for Barack Obama and then now I am reporting on the first Black woman to be vice president of the United States. It's an amazing time to be an American.

CLYBURN: It really is. And I think that people ought to think a little bit about this. Here we are about to inaugurate a gentlemen, who was Vice President to the first African-American president, as far as we know, and is also going to be president with the first African- American, Asian-American vice president. That is a tremendous thing. And also the daughter of immigrants.

I think this campaign when you're still going to look at it and the Biden-Harris ticket, they say so much about what this country is all about. And you and I know, you are Louisianan, and I'm a South Carolinian, but we know what it is to live in a part of the country that has wrestled with these issues for years.

And we've been doing, I think, great work toward that more perfect union, until four years ago. And it turns out that the country took a big step backwards. And so this campaign and the success of this campaign, I think, is an indication of what a lesson Tocqueville said about the country when he wrote that America is not great because it is more enlightened than any other nation, but rather, because it has always been able to repair its faults.

The election Donald Trump opened up a fault line in the country. The election of Joe Biden is an attempt to repair that fault. And I think he will succeed.

LEMON: Did you have - I'm sure you did. But talk to me about how underserved - people who are in minority and underserved communities, what they had been dealing with over the last four years, this is beyond politics. Many of us have been under attack from this administration.

CLYBURN: Yes, and that's what bothered me so much about the administration. George W. Bush and I have are good buddies. Yes, I won't use the word friends, because we've never really had a close relationship. But we have a good working relationship. And we're buddies and we still are.

We chatted at John Lewis's funeral. Here's George W. Bush, coming from Texas, to appear at the Homegoing service of John Lewis. And we got a president who barely acknowledges the first African-American to lie in state - in the state's capitol. And I want to be sure that everybody understands, I know Rosa Parks, she was in repose. She was not in state. John Lewis was in state, and there's a difference.

So he's the first African-American, but we got a president who refused to even acknowledge that to be the case. It would seem to me he would have paid respects at the Capitol. That's the kind of indignity that this guy has heaped up on African Americans.

I was on the program earlier today with Omarosa. I will never get over the fact that this president looked into a camera, spoke into a microphone and called Omarosa a dog. I will never be able to get over that.


I can't get over the fact that this president looked at a mob down in Charlottesville, Virginia, and called them and said that there were good people on both sides. To have a president of the United States, driving wedges between people, it's just not a good thing.

We know this is not a perfect country. This country back in 1619 brought their first African-Americans to these shores and they were enslaved and that's lasted for 244 years. And then for another 100 years we had apartheid. He didn't call it that. But "separate, but equal" was apartheid, no different than what we had in South Africa.

But this country wrestled with that. And in 1954, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous nine to zero decision, Chief Justice, a Republican appointed by Republican, not partisan politics, but Americans said that's wrong, and we're going to do something about correcting that. And to have this president come in, and try to undo all of that, and try to turn the clock back, this is just too much to take for too many people.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about that, especially about working with - listen, there's a difference between Republicans and Democrats trying to work together, then trying to work with someone who wants to deny reality, or deny that there's systemic racism, or deny that people aren't treated differently in this country. It's really tough sometimes.

And I just have to be honest with you, Congressman, it's really tough to sometimes to sit here and have to talk to people who you know are bigots, you know, they're racists. And you have to sometimes pretend that there is some sense of fairness in the questions or in them, when you know, they're not going to tell the truth, when you know, they're making excuses for racism.

How do you do that? Give us all some advice, including me. How do you do that when you are a representative? And you know over the past four years, many of the people who are not in your party have denied that there is even racism in this country, and has condoned every bigoted thing this president does, makes excuses for us. Help us out here what do we do?

CLYBURN: Well, I understand your frustration with that. And quite frankly, I'm frustrated a whole lot over the years. But I always try to look at the big picture. And I know what my parents went through much of what your parents went through. And I know a lot of the indignities that they suffered in order for me to be where I am today.

And so I take a lot of that, as part of what I need to deal with in order to make those three daughters of mine, those four grandchildren I have, to make sure that they have a better life. Strom Thurmond and I had a very good working relationship. Strom Thurmond and I did not agree on much, but we worked together on behalf of the people of South Carolina.

His sister Gertrude was one of my best friends and Strom, he is talking all the time. My sister Gertrude just loves you. Well, it's because I recognize that our backgrounds, our experiences have been different. And I worked to do what I could to help reconcile those differences. I've always said that if the distance between me and opponent on any issue are five steps, I don't mind taking three of them.

LEMON: Amen.

CLYBURN: And so that's just the way that I have operated. And I will say to you, you do such a good job in the profession that you're in. I just admire your work. I watch you every night. And I just think you do a good job. Don't let the disagreements, the setbacks, define your profession, work to overcome that. And you do a good job of it. Keep doing it.


Don't let anybody throw cold water on your dreams. And that's what we're doing. They come along, see your dreams and aspiration - I tell people all the time, I'm practicing Eleventh Commandment. And Ronald Reagan used to say it all the time. Though, I heard it before Ronald Reagan ever said it. Thou shalt not throw cold water on another man's dreams.

LEMON: Amen. I got to - David, the producer is just giving me just a minute. I've got to ask this one question. I apologize. I'm going to take a little longer here.


LEMON: So this is what I want to ask you. Right after the president- elect talked about all the people he wanted this coalition, which includes every American, he said this, OK. He said he especially wanted to make - and I think he was talking about you in large part.

And he said, and "especially for the moment when this campaign was at its lowest, the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back. And I'll always have yours." That's when I started crying watching that speech. And that was because of you what happened in South Carolina. You revived this man's campaign. The reason we have a president-elect Joseph Biden today is in large part because of James Clyburn.

CLYBURN: And James Clyburn stood where he did on that occasion, because of who - a young - not so young lady at St. John's Baptist Church, who said to me just before the South Carolina primary, I need to know who you voted for. And when I told her, she looked in my face, and she said to me, I needed to hear that and this community needs to hear from you. It wasn't Jim Clyburn. It was Mrs. Jones, sitting on the front Pew of St. John's Baptist Church in Richland County, South Carolina. I did what I did for her, because she told me that she wanted to hear that. So, yes, it wasn't Jim Clyburn. It was those people, my constituents, who told me time and time again, how they wanted me to conduct myself. And Mrs. Jones told me on that day, how she wanted me to stand up in this presidential election. And I responded to her wishes.

LEMON: Congressman, it's always a pleasure. I thank you so much.

CLYBURN: Thank you about that.

LEMON: We appreciate you, and we love you. Thank you so much.

CLYBURN: Love you too, brother.

LEMON: And I see that Omega Psi Phi. I see that back there cute dog. And we see that Alpha Kappa Alpha is out there all for--

CLYBURN: They are roaming in the room for all the haters.

LEMON: Say again?

CLYBURN: I said, they are roaming in the room for all you haters. I tell all my Divine Nine brothers and sisters, in the final analysis, you may not know it, but you will end up in your Omega Chapter.

LEMON: Thank you. And we are appreciating the AKAs out there as well and the Deltas and don't get mad, my sister was a Kappa sweetheart, so you know, it takes all kind.

CLYBURN: Well, that's great. That's great. And look, just remember, I told her - Kamala that I was an AKA through November 3rd, so her success allows me to go back to being the cute dog that I have.

LEMON: Thank you, Congressman. You be well. Thanks.

CLYBURN: Thank you.

LEMON: So America is getting to know its next Vice President. And coming up, we're going to talk to a lifelong friend about the Kamala Harris. She knows on this remarkable night in American politics. We'll be right back.




KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century; 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been and I stand on their shoulders. And what a testament it is to Joe's character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president.


LEMON: Well, you know, it took a long time for America to get here, but it has. So what does it mean to Americans, particularly the people who know Senator Harris - I should say Vice President-Elect Harris best. So join me now Stacey Johnson-Batiste who has been friends with the vice president since kindergarten.

I'm so happy that you're - I was trying to think of do I have someone in my life, Stacey, since kindergarten. I have a nursery school. Her name is Tina Andre (ph). We text each other all the time and see each other when we can. I can't imagine what she would think if I was about to become vice president. So how do you feel about your childhood friend?

STACEY JOHNSON-BATISTE, LIFELONG FRIEND OF KAMALA HARRIS: Thank you for having me, Don. I am I am overjoyed. I am overjoyed. And, I mean, it is just awesome. It is so awesome. Kamala, she - Vice President - Madam Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, her life journey, her career path has really led her to this point, her life experience. It is just magnificent.


And I remember telling her when - I think, we were either in San Francisco or we may have been in LA, but it was around the time when she was running for California, Attorney General. And I remember making a comment that I can see her in Washington, DC. And I don't exactly know what she said back to me, but I - this does not surprise me, but it is still overwhelming and it is just amazing. It's awesome.

LEMON: Why don't you tell us how you really feel, come on? Have you had a chance to speak to her or reach out to her at all?

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Not today. No. I had sent her a text message early this morning. You know, just noting that she did it. I am so proud of her. But I don't expect - I mean, today was just - it was a whirlwind. There was a lot going on. So I'm sure over the next couple of weeks, we will be able to catch up live.

LEMON: Yes. I'm glad you're realistic about that, because--

JOHNSON-BATISTE: But it is just magnificent. You know, when people have busy lives, I'm sure people why don't you get back to me. Sometimes, like there are so many text messages and emails, right. And one can only imagine if you become the vice president-elect. But I - but long before long before she was vice president-elect you guys were kindergarten friends and we have a picture of that. So tell me about - I don't know if you can see this picture. There's someone there's someone with a box in the middle. It looks like art class. What's going on here?

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Oh, right. OK, so that was at Birchwood. That was our kindergarten. And we were either working on an art project or science project. But that was definitely kindergarten. Kamala should be on the right and I'm on the left and there's another girl in between us.

LEMON: And then there's another picture. I don't know if you're in the parking lot or the school yard. And I think she's in the foreground, and someone's wearing green and then a plaid coat.

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Kamala - OK, that would be coming off of a bus from a field trip or going to a field trip. And she would be the one in the green jumper and I'm walking behind her with the two ponytails - kind of in the background.

LEMON: Yes, I see you back here.


LEMON: And so when you heard tonight - and then there's a picture, obviously, you guys are a little bit older. Looks like, she's wearing sort of a leopard print. But, maybe a year or so ago it looks like - I'm joking.

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Oh, that was in the - that was in the late 90s. We were at my sister - my sister in law's wedding.



LEMON: What did you think - we heard from the sentiment from her - and there's another picture, that's a little bit more recently that I can tell - when you heard - if you think the president-elect said that and her sentiments as well. That if you can't - don't ever believe that this can't happen in America because it can, and now it has.

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Absolutely. I mean, Kamala is representing young girls, women across this country, across the world. She's representing Berkeley, our hometown and Oakland and San Francisco, the whole Bay Area. And we love her. We support her, we celebrate her. She's representing immigrants.

I mean, her mother, Shyamala, came from India by herself as a teenager. Her father, came from Jamaica. She is - and I was so happy to hear her talk about Black women, because I was thinking about this throughout the day today. She is representing Black women, and I'm going to get emotional, but I don't think we have been recognized for being the backbone of this country, going all the way back to slavery. So she represents all of that, all of that.

LEMON: Go ahead, talk about it.


LEMON: No, really. JOHNSON-BATISTE: I'm also so happy that my mother is able to witness this, because my mother was good friends with Shyamala, Kamala's mother. And it's just - it's so significant. It is historic. And my friend will go down in the history books. It is amazing. It is historic. She is representing so much. I cannot be proud of her.

LEMON: Stacey Johnson-Batiste, thank you so much. Everybody's emotional right now. And so - and I think it's OK. It's OK. This is a good time for America. Thank you.

JOHNSON-BATISTE: It is. It is. Still lot of work for them to do, though, they have a lot of work in that's ahead of them. Clearly, our country is divided. And - but I am so confident that with Joe's wisdom, Kamala's experience and her compassion, they will get to work and they will bridge the gap.


LEMON: Well, thank you. We appreciate you joining us. It's good to see you and congratulations.

JOHNSON-BATISTE: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Don.

LEMON: So, Chris, there you go. I mean, kindergarten, I don't know if anyone has been your friend that long. I doubt it. Look how cute, though. But, seriously, my oldest friend is Tina Andre Magaskey (ph) now, but she was since nursery school. Can you believe she still wants to be friends with me?

CUOMO: Yes. I think it's interesting that you find that interesting context, as we're talking about Biden-Harris just winning the presidential election. But I'm sure people note that detail as well. It's good to know, good to know.

Now I liked it. Good interview. Tonight is a night for feeling, and it's nice. Everybody's been holding everything in. We're all tight. We're on guard. Everybody's hands are up. And now there is a release. And let's see where it takes us. Let's discuss with some better minds.

I have Nia-Malika Henderson, Errol Louis and Margaret Hoover. Let's deal with can vs. will. Do you believe that Biden-Harris, as an administration will have an opportunity to unite and create progress on things that matter in this country?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think it largely depends on the Republicans. We've seen already silence from the Republicans, by and large. Not many have come out to congratulate the president-elect and the vice president-elect. A lot of them are kind of spouting the talking points that we've heard from Donald Trump so far.

So I think they're going to have to make some decisions as to whether or not they are going to reach back to Joe Biden's outstretched hand, because that is his posture as he goes in. He is coming in as someone who wants to bring people together and as a conciliatory figure, but they've got to decide if they're going to keep holding on to Donald Trump and Donald Trump's base, even though Donald Trump won't be in the White House.

CUOMO: One thing's for sure, Errol, they're going to get plenty of opportunities to explain their allegiance to Donald Trump and what's come out of his mouth?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. There's been no secret about this. The Trump folks have been saying, that Don Jr. and some others have been saying, this is your time to prove your loyalty to this administration, and to this man, who's not going to go away, who is not going to lose his platform. He'll still be out there. He'll still be galvanizing voters. He's got a lot of supporters who--


CUOMO: He could run again.

LEMON: --on state capitals all over the country. And he could in fact, run again for almost any office if you want to do.

So, yes, this is going to be a very delicate and difficult time for them. I could easily see Donald Trump deciding, I'm going to hold control of this party, even if I can't take it anywhere. That would be the worst outcome of all, because it then freezes the possibilities of the kind of bipartisan progress forward that this new administration is going to have to deliver.

CUOMO: The Republican Party, they've got things to figure out. There's opportunity here for them, especially because what's the main thing Biden-Harris have to deal with, the pandemic, and there's something for everybody in fighting what's destroying the society right now?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the measure of whether there will be a new coming together in Washington, if Mitch - it depends on whether Mitch McConnell has the Senate. And what Mitch McConnell has to do in order to win the Senate is win two more seats in Georgia.

And what does Mitch McConnell going to have to do to win two more seats in Georgia? He's going to have to actually pass the stimulus bill, pass the budget, and try to get all those Republicans back to the polls on January 12th and beat out the Democrats. What's he going to have to do that? He's going to have to actually play it down the middle, not play it to the base, not play to Trump.

So I think you're going to see this this very interesting period of interregnum, between the swearing of Joe Biden, that isn't necessarily a play of the base, Donald Trump, lame duck. I think there is going to be an opening and a little bit of sunlight for a new beginning between the Senate and a new administration.

CUOMO: Sound right?

HENDERSON: I mean, it's very optimistic. We sort of had this debate last night. I'm less optimistic about the GOP's willingness and desire to turn away from Donald Trump and the base even as we look--

CUOMO: Those down in the middle, make it work in Georgia?

HENDERSON: I don't think down in the middle works in Georgia. I think what works in Georgia is in large part what Purdue has been doing and what Loeffler has been doing, which is a real play to the base strategy. They'll, of course, be--

HOOVER: But that's different than a special election. For a special election you got the suburbs of Atlanta coming out, you've got all the folks who regularly vote. It's different than a presidential makeup. And so I do think a more moderate tone is what's going to play in Georgia and in a not presidential moment, which is what you get--


LOUIS: Well, no, you can run a special as a base election.

HENDERSON: Yes, and I think--

LOUIS: We can just say we'll bring out every last one of our supporters. We will tell them any crazy fantasy that'll work to get them to the polls, and we'll see if the Democrats can match it. That's more like what I would be expecting, especially coming right after the holiday.

CUOMO: What's interesting evidence of our bizarro world right now is that, you used the term interregnum, right, means between reigns, and it's when normal government is suspended. But what Margaret is discussing would be normal government, which is where you come to the table, and you have to get something done, and that opposition will not be satisfying in and of itself. We'll see. That would be a nice interregnum.

All right. Nia-Malika, Errol, Margaret, thank you very much. Let's take a little break here. And we know we have all the fields, right? And I mean that all the fields. There are people who are jubilant. They are in the streets, they are celebrating. They're taking my cigar. But there is also pain, and there is fear. And Biden has to deal with all of it. And he says that's what he wants to do.

How, when, what's the first move? Let's discuss the new wave for America next.


CUOMO: It is Sunday morning in the East and America is going to church, even though it's still 9:00 p.m. out in the West. Hello, everybody.