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The Situation Room

First Vaccine Doses To States To Fall Short Of Need; Trump Consumed With Overturning Election Results; Pandemic Hitting Record Numbers; U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 283,000, 14.9 Million Cases, On Average 2,200-Plus Americans Dying Daily; Michigan Governor Condemns Armed Protest At State Official's Home; Source: Barr Considering Leaving Post Before Trump Exits Office. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 07, 2020 - 18:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news.

Seventy-nine years after 2,400 Americans died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, COVID-19 is now killing almost as many people on average in the United States each day. More than 1,000 have already been reported today, and the toll has now surpassed 283,000 people, as the country is rapidly approaching 15 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

Those numbers will get worse and worse in the coming weeks, sadly. Dr. Anthony Fauci warning that we still haven't seen the full brunt of the Thanksgiving surge, adding -- and I'm quoting him now -- "The middle of January could be a really dark time for us."

But this week could also mark a turning point in the pandemic that's claimed a million-and-a-half lives around the world. On Thursday, the FDA will hold a crucial meeting to review Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine. Immediate distribution of the vaccine is expected to begin very soon after this emergency authorization.

We're also following the presidential transition and the announcement of key members of president-elect Biden's health team. They include his picks for health and human services secretary and the CDC director. He has also named Dr. Fauci as a chief medical adviser on COVID.

Let's get some more on the breaking pandemic news right now.

CNN's Nick Watt has more from Los Angeles for us.

Nick, two of the greatest attacks in American history, we're talking about Pearl Harbor and 9/11. That's the scale of deaths we're now seeing here in the United States almost daily.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on average, we're losing more than 2,000 people a day every day. And there's more. Listen, California now scrambling to try and hire

more hospital staff. South Dakota has been flying some patients out of state, Pennsylvania warning that they could soon have to be turning patients away from the hospital.

Yes, a vaccine is on the way, but, in the meantime, we have got big problems.


WATT (voice-over): The United States just logged more than a million new COVID-19 cases in just five days. A comparison? South Korea, smaller population, sure, but, in five days, they logged fewer than 3,000 new cases.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Today is Pearl Harbor Day. And, on Pearl Harbor, 2,403 Americans were killed. Three days last week, we exceeded that.

WATT: The U.S. average daily death toll is higher than it's been since April and record numbers of Americans are now in the hospital.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Our surge right now is intensifying. It is amplifying.

WATT: Post-Thanksgiving surge hasn't even hit yet, and soon there could be another, but bigger.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: With Christmas, it starts several days before. It goes through Christmas. The week after Christmas into New Year's and the New Year's holiday, I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving.

WATT: Sunday night a last hurrah for many restaurants in California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know the drill, and it's the only way to survive.

WATT: Today, much of the state is back to takeout-only, back under stay-home orders.

FAUCI: They said, we feel we need to do this. What do you think? And I said, you really don't have any choice.

WATT: Because ICU beds are getting scarce, too scarce.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Hospitalizations, we're now over 10,000 patients in our hospitals, 72 percent increase over the last 14 days. You can see how quickly this grows.

WATT: Today, New York City reopened some schools.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The parents were so happy and so relieved.

WATT: But, just hours later, a warning from New York's governor. GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If we don't get the rate under control, and

you are going to overwhelm your hospitals, we will have to go back to shutdown.

FAUCI: The middle of January can be a really dark time for us.

WATT: And not just in New York.

DR. JEROME ADAMS, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: This surge is different than earlier surges, because it's not about PPE. It's not about testing. It's really about health care capacity. And certain places are just being overwhelmed.

We have got the vaccines coming, but we want as many people to be alive to get them as possible.

WATT: An FDA committee meets Thursday. A green light for Pfizer's vaccine is expected to follow.


DR. MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: I really hope they do it quickly, and that the vaccine will be available to our population starting later this week.


WATT: Yes, later this week, that is what he said.

But in the first shipment, there is not going to be nearly enough to go around, not even enough for that priority group one, the long-term care residents and the medical personnel, who are fighting as hard as they can to keep as many people alive as they can until we get enough shots in arms to really make a difference -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Nick, thank you very much, Nick Watt reporting for us.

The pandemic very much on the mind of president-elect Biden as he key members of his incoming health team.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in Wilmington, Delaware, for us covering the transition.

Jeff, some familiar names in the team that the president-elect is assembling.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they are familiar names, and some of the very leading voices from outside the administration who we have been seeing on television and hearing advice from really for much of the last year or so.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci, of course, is front and center as one of those medical advisers who will be announced tomorrow. But the president- elect said he used scientific rigor and integrity in choosing his health team. It also includes the new HHS secretary. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): President-elect Joe Biden is filling in another piece of his new administration, announcing today his health experts who will drive the nation's fight against coronavirus.

XAVIER BECERRA, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY NOMINEE: Right now, during COVID, the last thing we need is to have Americans who are left behind.

ZELENY: Xavier Becerra is Biden's pick for secretary of Health and Human Services. The California attorney general and former member of Congress is not a medical expert, but he's led the charge defending the Affordable Care Act.

BECERRA: At a time when we're going through this COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the time to take away people's health care.

ZELENY: The rest of the team also taking shape, with Biden unveiling nominations for surgeon general, head of the CDC, and a chief medical adviser on COVID-19. That post goes to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who's become a household name as the nation's top infectious disease doctor.

FAUCI: I have worked all of them before. They're excellent choices.

ZELENY: Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as surgeon general for three years in the Obama administration, will return to the position. He's been a top COVID adviser to Biden all year.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We not only can do better, but we must do better, because lives are on the line.

ZELENY: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Mass General, will lead the CDC.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Now is the time to redouble our efforts, to pay more attention than we ever have before.

ZELENY: Their faces became familiar ones on CNN during the pandemic. And in just seven weeks, they will be responsible for overseeing the vaccine distribution and trying to bring the deadly virus under control.

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as HHS secretary, another barrier-breaking pick from Biden.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): I think his life experiences, which we don't talk about enough, as a minority, is going to be very important in HHS as we tackle health disparities across the country.


ZELENY: Now, president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris are continuing to build their team.

And, Wolf, we are told there will be more announcements to members of their Cabinet coming this week, first and foremost, defense secretary. He told reporters earlier this afternoon that he plans to announce that decision on Friday. Now, that will be, of course, a very important pick as he fills out his Cabinet.

We are told, though, that the attorney general position is not coming this week. There was some confusion from that earlier, that that may come before Christmas. But this week at least, Wolf, we're told that defense secretary and some other names for economic advisers coming in the coming days.

BLITZER: All right, and we will watch together with you. Jeff Zeleny in Wilmington, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this.

CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Leana Wen is joining us. She's the former Baltimore city health commissioner and an emergency room physician.

Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

Let me start by getting your reaction to president-elect Biden's unveiling his health team. I know you have known, for example, the next surgeon, Dr. Vivek Murthy, for a long time.

WEN: Absolutely.

So, I am so thrilled to see that Dr. Murthy is going to be reprising his role as surgeon general. We know that America's doctor needs to speak with the voice of science and needs to be a respected and prominent public health leader.

So I can really think of no one better to be in this role. I had worked with Vivek closely when I was a health commissioner, and he led the charge against the opioid epidemic, and also amplified the reason for us to focus on mental health as being no different from physical health.

And these are issues that have not gone away with COVID, but have actually gotten worse. After this pandemic is over, there should be renewed attention on these issues as well. And so I hope that, as the team gets built out, that there will be an even greater role for Dr. Murthy, including potentially as a member of the Cabinet, because I think it would send a very strong message to have somebody with his public health credentials as part of president-elect Biden's decision- making Cabinet.


BLITZER: Yes, he has been a frequent guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM over the past year, highly, highly respected, with an enormous amount of expertise.

Unfortunately, though, the team will have an uphill battle, Dr. Wen, fighting the pandemic, when the president-elect takes office on January 20. Dr. Fauci is now warning that the middle of January, his words, could be a really dark time for us. How dangerous is this situation that's unfolding in the coming weeks

and months?

WEN: I'm extremely concerned about what's happening now in this country, because we are hospitals -- we have hospitals that are already at the brink, ICUs that have been overwhelmed already for weeks.

And we are just beginning to see the impact of Thanksgiving. And all of that is leading straight into Christmas and the new year, when more people are going to be traveling and more people are going to be gathered indoors.

You know, I really understand why it is that people want to get together over the holidays. For so many people, there are religious reasons. It's tradition to do so. But I would just urge everyone at this time the vaccine is not going to be helping us this winter.

We're very excited about it. There is great news come the spring. But what's going to get us out of it right now is our own actions. And so wearing masks, making sure that we do not have indoor gatherings, keeping that six-foot physical distance is going to be so critical to surviving this winter.

BLITZER: As far as the vaccine is concerned, Dr. Wen, how soon after this Thursday, the meeting of the FDA, do you expect to possibly see the Pfizer vaccine get emergency use authorization and vaccinations actually to start?

WEN: Very soon.

By all accounts, I believe that assuming that the science is as we think that it is so far, that it looks to be safe and very effective, we should get the authorization by the FDA maybe as early as end of this week, early next week.

And, of course, Moderna's vaccine is going to be undergoing a similar review process next week. So, I would expect for shots to be going into arms within days, for there to potentially be millions of doses of vaccines delivered by the end of the year, early next year, again, all wonderful news.

But we have to make it to that point. And it would be so tragic if lives are lost by the thousands a day, when we actually have hope on the horizon of actually ending this pandemic.

BLITZER: Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope it comes sooner, rather than later.

Dr. Wen, thank you so much for joining us.

WEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, some aides to President Trump are now speculating he may go away for the holidays and then not come back to the White House at all. We're learning new details. Plus, New York City reopening some schools, but will they stay open as

COVID cases surge? We will talk to the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio. He is standing by live.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories here in THE SITUATION ROOM tonight, including some of President Trump's strongest House supporters actually urging him not to concede the election, which he clearly lost.

Instead, they're pressing for a floor fight in the House of Representatives, even after the Electoral College next Monday goes ahead and certifies that Biden won the election.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us right now.

Jim, the allies and the president in the House, they want to take his false election claims to the House floor even after the Electoral College makes its move.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And we wonder why all of this hasn't been resolved, Wolf. That's right.

President Trump is still trying to pull a fast one with his supporters, insisting he has won a second term. Mr. Trump said he was 2-0 today, when it's actually one win and one loss.

But, privately, the president and his team understand he is running out of legal challenges. The question is whether the president will ever acknowledge that himself.

And, as you were just mentioning, some Republicans in Congress are actually encouraging the president to keep fighting it out even after the electoral votes are officially tallied up next week, teeing up a potential fight in the House of Representatives that is expected to simply drag out what is inevitable.



ACOSTA (voice-over): Today, the president require in order than a fact-check. He needed a math check, as Mr. Trump was pointing to the 2020 scoreboard and claiming he came out on top.

TRUMP: Well, in politics, I won two. So I'm 2-0. And that's pretty good, too. But we will see how that turns out.

ACOSTA: But that's not true, and neither are his false cries of a rigged election, no matter how many times he looks at the numbers. TRUMP: Well, I think the case has already been made, if you look at

the polls. It was a rigged election. You look at the difference states, the election was totally rigged. It's a disgrace to our country. It's like a Third World country, these ballots pouring in from everywhere.

ACOSTA: On the same day Georgia election officials recertified their results, announcing once again that the state's electoral votes will be awarded to Joe Biden, Mr. Trump was putting more pressure on the Republican governor of Georgia, tweeting: "He refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win. What's wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?"

But the president is engaging in some lame-duck doublespeak. As he is insisting he defeated Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump is telling voters in Georgia to elect Republicans in the upcoming Senate run-off races down there, warning that control of the Senate is at stake. And yet that is only possible if Kamala Harris is about to become vice president to break ties in the Senate.

TRUMP: Because at stake many this election is control of the U.S. Senate, and that really means control of this country. The voters of Georgia will determine which party runs every committee, writes every piece of legislation, controls every single taxpayer dollar.

ACOSTA: Most GOP lawmakers are going along with Mr. Trump's charade, including Georgia's Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler.


REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: My question is actually pretty simple. Yes or no, Senator Loeffler, did Donald Trump lose the election?

SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): You know, President Trump has every right to use every legal recourse available.

ACOSTA: But the president and his lawyers are running out of state challenges, a sign that his legal team's work is winding down, not to mention the man leading that effort, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, now has the coronavirus.

TRUMP: Rudy is doing well. I just spoke to him. He is doing very well. No temperature, and he actually called me early this morning. He was the first call I got. He is doing very well.

ACOSTA: Another pressure point, the prospect that Attorney General William Barr could step down or be fired before Mr. Trump leaves office. Barr pushed back on the president's election claims last week.

QUESTION: Do you still have confidence in Bill Barr?

TRUMP: Ask me that in a number of weeks from now.

ACOSTA: The president is expected to return to his resort in Florida for the holidays, with aides discussing whether that trip will become more of an extended stay into January.

Before that happens, congressional leaders are sounding more determined to hammer out a coronavirus relief bill that will reach the president's desk.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): This is a compromise. Neither side is going to get the full amount or all the component parts that they wanted.


ACOSTA: And the president is expected to sign an executive order tomorrow aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans first before other countries.

The president is planning on signing that order at a vaccine summit set for the White House tomorrow. And in the meantime, we should point out the president, we're told, is expected to return to Georgia in the coming weeks to campaign on behalf of those embattled Senate candidates.

One reason why they're not going to cross them at this point, Wolf, when it comes to who won this election because they feel like they need him and his base -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash, is with us. Our CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip, is here, and our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is back with us.

Dana, on this December 7, more than a month after Election Day, House conservatives are actually urging President Trump not to concede the election, instead press for a floor night the House of Representatives over his election loss.

What are the potential consequences of this kind of move?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the consequences are mostly about the continued repercussions of so many people who are part of the echo chamber that President Trump is part of and these House conservatives as well that keep kind of putting information -- false information back and forth, back and forth through this chamber, saying that the president didn't win, that he is not -- that Joe Biden isn't legitimate, that it was rigged, all the things that we hear from the president all the time that are just not true.

And it's really great reporting from our colleagues Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb. And in it, they're talking about the fact that some of the president's staunchest supporters in the House, what they want to do is, when the joint session of Congress comes together at the beginning of January, when they have to prove the Electoral College, the rules are that if one House member and one Senate member get together to object, then it could delay the vote for a couple of hours. There has to be debate.

But there has to be a Senate Republican willing to go along with a House Republican. It's possible. And it will certainly be -- the result will be a delay. It will be fireworks on the floor of the House of Representatives. But don't expect it to change the result at all. They want to make a point, and that's pretty clear.

BLITZER: That's very clear, indeed.

You know, Abby, the House majority whip, James Clyburn, joined me in THE SITUATION ROOM in the last hour.

I asked him about these threats to a peaceful transfer of power here in the United States. Listen to what he told me.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): The American people must come to understand that this kind of a threat could very well destroy the fabric that has been holding this country together for oh so many years. That's serious business.


BLITZER: That's a very stark warning coming in from the whip there. What do you think, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think, objectively, he is absolutely right.

Look, the one thing that kind of keeps the United States as being a beacon of democracy in the world has been our ability to transfer power from one person to the next peacefully every four years or every eight years if that person is reelected, and to do that without these wild claims based in complete invented fallacy of fraud, the likes you typically might see in countries where their democracies are struggling or where their democracies are, frankly, nonexistent at all.


It is at the core of American democracy. And I do think that this is something that doesn't seem to be penetrating beyond just really sort of basic political calculations in Washington, particularly on the Republican side, where it seems that what's happening right now is you have a lot of Republican leaders basically calculating that they have to do what they need to do, at least until the Georgia run-offs, but even potentially beyond that, as they try to placate President Trump, who they are worried is going to continue to be a major force in their party.

The problem is, what do they do when they have created a Republican base of tens of millions of people who don't believe in the legitimacy of American elections? That's a house of cards that's going crumble on itself in short order.

BLITZER: Yes, it's hard to believe this is even happening in our country.

Jeff, the president-elect, Joe Biden, told CNN last week he understands what he described as the tough position some Republican lawmakers are in when it comes to acknowledging Biden's victory, at least publicly.

Is there a point where that understanding actually ends?

ZELENY: Wolf, that is a great question.

And you can see that Joe Biden has been, the president-elect has been taking the lead in his team in terms of being patient and cool and calm and unbothered by this.

But next Monday, when the Electoral College meets, that is essentially a benchmark, where so many Republican lawmakers, both publicly and privately, have indicated that that is the point at which this ends. That is the point where he will be recognized as president-elect.

If there is another month to go with this, we will see how quiet the Biden transition team is. But in some respects, it matters for democracy in the long term. The bigger question now is how cooperative these transition officials and the agencies are being with the Biden transition team at Health and Human Services, for example, just one example.

Are they allowing them to see everything? That is why this matters, because the continuity of government is so important on the vaccine distribution and other matters.

So, what -- the concern from the Biden team is just this cooperation continuing to happen, not necessarily what's happening in the Lower Chamber in the House.

Wolf, I'm thinking back to 20 years ago this coming Sunday. Al Gore conceded and this moved forward. And, yes, there were some Democrats at the time making some last-minute attempts to do things on the House floor, but that never really went anywhere.

So, I assume that this will be the same thing. But, look, it's not good for democracy in the long term. But, in the short term, it matters that they're cooperating with the Biden team, because he will be the president in seven weeks.

BASH: And, Wolf, if I can just add to that, I was in the House chamber when Al Gore had to preside over Congress affirming that George Bush, not he, won the election.

ZELENY: Right.

BASH: We're going see something similar at the beginning of January, because Mike Pence is now the president of the Senate. He will preside, very likely, if -- that's the expectation. That is what we know the protocol to be.

And so he will be presiding over his own defeat, just like Al Gore did, for vice president, not president, but it's still a defeat nonetheless.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point.

All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead: Some New York City elementary school students, they are about -- they go back to the classroom, but restaurants in New York soon may have to stop inside dining. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is standing by to take our questions.

And I will also speak with Michigan's attorney general about the threats -- yes, the threats to various election officials out there.

We will be right back.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news as the surge of new coronavirus cases, deaths, and hospitalizations sweep across the United States right now. We're joined by the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio, thank you so much for joining us.

Big picture, New York City has seen a steady rise in cases this fall. Dr. Fauci is warning we haven't yet seen the full brunt of Thanksgiving. It could get worse after Christmas, New Year's. How bad should New Yorkers prepare for things to get in the coming few weeks?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: Look, Wolf, I think we've got one more big battle ahead. And I think we've got to get through December and January, and I think things are going to get a lot better after that because we'll be past the holidays because the vaccine, the impact of the vaccine will be felt more and more with every passing week.

Right now, we've seen a surge of cases. But you know what? New Yorkers are fighting back. We have a lot of folks wearing masks, a lot of folks getting tested. They're really answering the call. And on top of that today, great victory for this city and for the parents and kids of this city, getting our schools up and running again for our youngest kids.

I was out in the Bronx today at elementary school. And seeing the kids and parents come back, they're ready to make it work and to do it in a way that keeps everyone safe. There is a lot of spirit in the city to fight through this last push and get to a better time ahead once the vaccine has really had a chance to do its work.

BLITZER: I want to talk about the kids going back to school. Almost 200,000 went back to school today out of 1.1 million in your school district.


But let's talk a little bit about what Governor Cuomo said. He said New York State will have to suspend indoor dining in five days if hospitalizations don't stabilize. Will that really be enough to get the current surge under control? I asked the question, Mayor, because California, as you know, is now enacting much broader stay at-at-home orders.

DE BLASIO: Wolf, look, it's an important step. And we all hope it doesn't have to happen. We're talking about 100,000 or more people whose livelihoods depend on the dining industry. And, of course, we're going still going to have takeout, delivery. We still have outdoor dining. We've made that permanent and safe. But indoor dining matters to a lot of people. So no one is looking forward to this. But I think it is likely, given the surge in cases, it will help us to fight back this upswing.

Look, every option has to be on the table. Again, I think this is the last big battle in New York City against the coronavirus. And if we have to use restrictions, we will. But the most important thing is that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because, literally, next week, the first shipments of vaccine are arriving and that's going change the whole reality in our favor.

BLITZER: And I want to get to that in a moment also. But getting back to the schools, they reopened for the kids up to fifth grade today for classroom learning. Why are you so optimistic, Mayor, that schools won't necessarily have to close down again as we face what yourself acknowledge will be a really bad surge in December and January?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, we've proven that our schools are safe over months. The biggest school system in the country, place to have in the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, we layered every conceivable health and safety measure, one on top of the other. We found it worked.

Very, very few kids or staff members tested positive over these last few months. In fact, our health leaders say there is no place safer to be in New York City than in one of our public schools. So we said look, we've got bring them back, strengthen them further, weekly testing now, Wolf. The obligation is every school must test its students and staff every single week. We're making that happen. And we're convinced we can make them safe.

And I tell you, parents are voting with their feet this morning at the South Bronx. There was no hesitation. They wanted their kids in school. I asked one fourth grader, her name is Martha, I said why do you want to be back in school? She said because I learn better in school. I mean, that just said it all. Kids want to be back. Parents want to be back, and we know we can keep them safe.

BLITZER: It's clearly should be in a classroom. They definitely do learn better that way.

As far as the vaccine, Mayor, while I have you, the Pfizer vaccine could get emergency use authorization by the end of this week. How many of New York City's health care workers, nursing home residents do you expect to be covered in the initial shipments of the vaccine? How many of them will get both doses that they need? DE BLASIO: Look, Wolf, we're working with the federal government and the state government to really fine-tune. But you're exactly in the ballpark there. We're going to focus on the highest risk health care provider, frontline health care workers and our nursing home residents and staff. That's where the priority has to be to begin with. And, of course, in a vaccine that requires two doses with time in between, that's a logistical challenge we're going to have to meet.

But, certainly, when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of doses coming in in each shipment, we've got the potential here in a matter of weeks to reach the highest vulnerability health care workers and all of our nursing home residents and staff. That's something we literally are going to be able to do in the course of December, going into January, cover all of that and keep going with more health care workers, first responders, and into very important group of people, folks over 65, folks with preexisting health conditions who are the most vulnerable.

Now, here is the key, Wolf. As we do more and more of, that the pool of folks who might be vulnerable to the virus shrinks. We're also talking about a city where probably at least 3 million people have been exposed to the virus already and are unlikely to get it again in the short term and unlikely to feel any negative effect from it.

With every passing week, the possibility of the virus expanding outward is ending as you go into January, as you go into February. That's why I'm saying, I think it's the last big battle against coronavirus in New York City, because we're going to limit where this virus can go and turn this city around.

BLITZER: Let's hope, indeed. Mayor de Blasio, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in New York. Thanks for joining us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, I'll be joined by Michigan's attorney general. She is slamming what has been described as a mob-like behavior of protesters motivated by President Trump's bogus claims of election fraud. There you see her. We'll discuss.

Also ahead, is the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, getting ready to quit?



BLITZER: We have breaking news in Michigan right now. The state's governor is condemning this weekend's armed protest outside the home of Michigan secretary of state. The protesters were motivated by President Trump's bogus claims of election fraud. Governor Gretchen Whitmer says, threats against elected officials, quote, are unlawful and they are unacceptable.

We're joined now by Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel. Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us. You say, and I'm quoting you now, this mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency.


What more would you like to say about the threats Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, for example, is facing?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, you know, what's really unfortunate is that the statements that the president has continued to make not only undermines people's faith and confidence in our systems of elections, but at this point, it's undermining the safety of those who administer our elections, like our secretary of state and other elected officials.

And so, it's very unfortunate. The impact that it's having right now in our state and in states all around the country will be long- lasting, and it's a concern. It's a safety concern for a number of elected officials in our state.

BLITZER: Yeah, people are getting threats, threats to their lives, to their families. Unfortunately, as you know, Attorney General, Secretary Benson is not the only official in Michigan facing these kinds of threats. The Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping plot. You've said you and your staff of dedicated public servants have also received various kinds of threats.

Can you give us a sense of what officials in Michigan are having to deal with right now?

NESSEL: Honestly, it's continuous. And every time the president goes out and he makes more of these flagrantly false statements and gets his supporters riled up, and every time you hear it echoed in other areas of the media where you have people who will engage in circulating these false narratives that Trump won the election, that somehow the system has stolen the presidency from him, it gets more and more people agitated, and then they go out and they engage in, you know, sometimes illegal acts involving threats towards lawmakers, threats towards executive officials, and it's just on and on.

And seemingly, it not only has it not decreased since the time of the election, but I would say actually that it's escalated.

BLITZER: I want you to be careful out there, Attorney General. We'll stay in close touch you. Good luck. These are tough, tough times. Thanks so much for joining us.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the latest round in the battle of wills between President Trump and the attorney general of the United States William Barr. Will the attorney general actually leave his job early?


[18:52:12] BLITZER: CNN has learned the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, is actually considering leaving his job before January 20th, the day President Trump leaves office.

Let's bring in our special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

Jamie, what are you learning about why Barr may actually decide to exit early?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It appears, Wolf, he wants to leave on his own terms. We should note exactly two years ago today, Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he would pick Bill Barr. But it now appears the attorney general has had enough. A source with knowledge has told us Barr is seriously considering resigning before January 20th.

You know, Wolf, we know Barr has carried plenty of water for President Trump going back to the Mueller report. But we're being told that he really is very angry that Trump and his allies have been criticizing him simply because Barr is not willing to go along with Trump's fantasy of widespread election fraud.

Just as a reminder, Wolf, the president on Thursday publicly told reporters in the Oval Office, he said about Barr, quote, he hasn't done anything. In response to that, a source with knowledge told me Barr may be leaving early because, quote, he's not someone who takes bullying and turns the other cheek.

And finally, Wolf, it may just be that Barr wants to get out as Trump seems to be growing more unhinged. And as we know, there is a possibility that Trump may be making some controversial pardons, possibly a pre-emptive pardon of his children, possibly even trying to pardon himself. Barr may just not want to have to deal with those on his watch -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's possible, though, given all this news about him deciding to maybe leave early the president may simply decide to tweet and fire him.

GANGEL: Right. We've seen that movie before. And I think that's the reason we're seeing this with Bill Barr. He may be hoping to get out before that happens. We'll see.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Good reporting as usual. Thank you very much.

And we'll have more news right after this.



BLITZER: As we try to do every night here in THE SITUATION ROOM, tonight, we honor some of those we've lost in this horrible, horrible coronavirus pandemic. Anastasia Koiveroglou of New Jersey was 67 years old. Her daughter

says she was a selfless person who went out of her way to make sure her children were happy. She was born in Greece, she loved to cook, and she loved playing slot machines.

Dr. Irving Buterman of New York was 78 years old. He was born in a field in Poland as his parents fled the Nazis. And he went on to deliver thousands and thousands of babies over a 50-year career at Lennox Hill Hospital. His son said he had a way of making everybody, everybody try to feel oh, so special.

These are really, really wonderful people. We will miss them. May they rest in peace, and may their memories be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.