tv CNN Tonight with Don Lemon CNN December 1, 2020 8:00pm-9:00pm PST
tonight, federal court documents showing the justice department is investigating a possible presidential pardon bribery scheme. those filings don't reveal any names of people potentially involved. also tonight, a source saying associate os president trump, including his personal lawyer, rudy giuliani, are seeking preemptive pardons. all this happening as attorney general bill barr says there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the election, effect eventually shutting down president trump's false claims of massive voter fraud. joining me now, john hardwood, cnn's political analyst ron brownstein and political
commentator amanda carpenter. john, you're first. we are learning the justice department is investigating a potential bribery scheme for presidential pardons. what can you tell us about that? >> we don't know a lot as you indicated in the open. federal district judge barrel howell released a heavily redacted court filing from this sum they are indicated that federal prosecutors were investigating the potential for a bid to obtain a presidential pardon by means of offering a campaign contribution either to a campaign directly or to a political committee. names were not attached to it, so we don't know who was being investigated. we're unaware that anyone has been charged with a crime related to this investigation, but as the conservative lawyer george conway who happens to be
married to kellyanne conway put on twitter tonight, ask yourself, what was runner if a campaign for high office this summer and who has the power to issue a presidential pardon? the answer to both of these questions is president donald trump. now, again, we do not know if he is referred to in any way in this document, but it clearly hit -- the document and covers hit close enough to home that a few moments ago president trump tweeted out the document is fake news. but of course federal district judges like barrel howell are not in the business of advancing fake news. we'll have to see what he can learn in the coming days about this case. >> amanda, we are also told trump is considering granting presidential pardons to his three oldest children, jared kushner as well and rudy giuliani. he can claim he's going to win all he wants but doesn't that show that he knows it's over if
he's even considering this? >> yeah. i mean, this has been the time a lot of people have been most worried about the trump presidency, how he would potentially abuse his power on his way out. and the use of pardons potentially to expunge people from being held accountable for their criminal acts on his way out the door is one of the most controversial things a president can do, especially considering he may be extending it to mem r members of his family who may want to pursue a future in the republican party. what crimes would he be pardoning them for? i look at that and say, go ahead. if you want to admit that members of your family committed some sort of crime, member of your political inner circle committed some kind of crime by extending them a pardon then let's use that to go forward and
say they should never come back to republican politics again. >> you're right. for what? what would he say? i'm pardoning you for blah blah blah, and then it would be a trail of bread crumbs. actually, a big spotlight -- this is where you should look. ron, is that you saying mmm? >> yeah. first of all, he can't pardon people for state crimes. my thought about this is you don't get to this point in a day, and you don't get to this point on your own. there is no way that he would be contemplating acts that are so egregious, so violative of historical norms. if republicans had not enabled and abetted him at each step toward this. as i often said, every time he breaks a window, the republicans in congress obediently sweep up the glass. we have seen that, refusal to hold him accountable for ukraine, for trying to weaponize the postal service, tilt the
census, and especially in the post election period where as i wrote today on the cnn website, the behavior of mitch mcconnell and kevin mccarthy and other republican leaders as trump has spun these poisonous conspiracy theories that are translating into death threats is more cowardly and craven than the early 1950s to joe mccarthy. he has gotten to this point because he believes he'll not be held accountable by his party and we learned one party alone cannot uphold democracy if the other party is willing to acquiesce. >> that mccarthy comparison, aman did, you didn't really -- i was like, wow. you didn't flinch at that at all. because you think it's true? >> here's the thing i'm thinking about, for the last five years we asked, how many -- are
republicans going stand up against trump? they never do. we have to come away with they're fine with it. i'm not going accept the talk of privately they have concerns. i've come on and explained the politics of their decisions and why they're staying strategically silent. let's forget. that they're fine with it all as long as it keeps them in power and they're fine with it all even as the president lost because they're making the calculation that it would be good to delegitimatize vice president joe biden. >> amanda, when you talk about the concern thing privately, they'll say in front of cameras, i'm very, very, very concerned and then they vote and do everything the president wants them to do. >> yeah. >> i'm afraid -- i have been afraid to come to this conclusion that they are fine with it. i've wanted to believe that somewhere in their hearts they would stand up if maybe they're not to scared. but we're at a place where people are getting death threats and they won't defend their
friend in georgia who's begging in front of the cameras for support. >> right. what were you going stay, ron? >> similar to what happened in the 1950s. robert taft, the mitch mcconnell of his stay, the senate republican leader, mr. republican, candidate for president multiple times, privately knew what mccarthy was doing was both reckless and dangerous, but he thought it was expedient for the party because initially he was targeting the truman administration. the problem was that it kept going, and he kept -- he went after the eisenhower administration and had these reckless charges of kind of communist infiltration everywhere in much a the same way we're watching the republicans make the calculation in the senate and house that it is in their interest to let trump poisen the political system both because it makes it tougher from bide ton get a second look from republican voters if they believe the election was stolen. others suggested this could be the basis for a new round of voter suppression.
and you know, it just goes to kind of a point where you are saying, we're going to look at our narrow, immediate, short-term party interests over what is clearly an enormous danger to the party and now they're dealing with death threats. >> john, i think your answer is going to be -- i want to play this, i think i know where you're going with this. one of georgia's top election officials happens to be a life long republican, amanda just mentioned him. weighing in on trump's attorney calling for chris krebs to be shot. >> here's gabriel sterling. >> joe degenova to be shot. mr. president you have not condemned these actions or this language. senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions.
all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. someone's going to get hurt, someone's going to get shot, someone's going the get killed. >> john, i'm going to give you the floor. if this doesn't send a message to trump and his enablers, what the hell will? >> that is exactly the right message to send. joe degenova who he referred to in that sound bite is a perfect example of the dissent of the republican party into lunacy. he was once a respected figure in the legal procession has book a cook. said he was sarcastic after this drew a lot of attention, but that is not anything to joke around about. sarcasm is typically the cover that is used afterwards by trump and his enablers from things
they said that are extreme. just to button up the opponent that ron and amanda were making earlier, republicans do a lot of whining about how the media is biassed against them, but in the case of the trump years, the bias of the media worked to their benefit in the following way -- the biggest analytical mistake that the media as a -- the mainstream media as a whole made is overestimating the willingness of republican elected officials at crunch time to do the right thing. they have not been willing to do the right thing. they are not doing the right thing now in response to these threats to democracy, to these threats to specific people, including publish officials of their own party. it is a very sad commentary on what has happened to the republican party and it's a detriment to all of us of the united states. >> well! i have been saying all along that they're okay with it because it just keeps happening,
amanda. i know you have been on this show and you've heard me say it. i know it's hard for people to want to accept that, but i mean, fool we moneys -- you know what i'm saying? . go on, ron. >> i was going say, to john's point, we don't fully have a language for what he is happening. we are treating the republican party as if it's behaving in the tradition of the american politics a kind of back is forth, but what we are seeing in the post election theed and the willingness to go along with such groundless fantasies, groundless and corrosive fantasies -- there was much more push back from republicans against mccarthy than there has been now against trump, no question about it. there is a willingness to go along with this and it is a party that is showing a broad willingness to subvert small "d" democracy if that's what it takes to hold power and it's a prospect we have not wrapped our
arms around as a country. >> it's called hypocrites. greedy, grifters, power hungry. there are a lot of words. we have to come up with one that encapsulates it perfectly. thank you all. i appreciate it. i want to bring in the democratic governor of new mexico. good to see you. thank you so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me, don. >> let's talk about the coronavirus. sit awful -- the hospitalizations in new mexico are at record highs this week. are you worried hospitals in your state will become overrun, gove governor? >> i have been worried about that single fact since the moment we were engaged in the late winter, early spring of this pandemic. if you're not paying real attention to health-care capacity, you aren't paying attention to this pandemic, as well as saving lives new mexico, for an antiquated medicare rule, it's created actually very severe health-care shortages.
we have less health-care per capita than most average states, so we really have to do it better. and where we are today is in critical situations in every single hospital in the state. don, that's why we did a reset that just ended monday of this week. >> yeah, i want to ask you about that. you had a two-week shut down. are you seeing signs that it help in the stopping the spread of this virus? >> it absolutely did, and it's exactly why we did that. we wanted to rest up our health-care providers and health care capacity. we certainly wanted to stop exponential growth of our covid cases statewide. we wanted to reduce our positivity rates each day. all of that occurred. and two weeks really in the context of dealing with this highly contagious out of control virus isn't enough time. but it allowed us to create then a new system moving forward,
because until we have the vaccine, with this virus out of control in the country, what happens in texas, what happens in arizona, what happens at the border happens in new mexico. this is the problem without having a federal frame work to actively combat this pandemic, states are in this roller coaster mode, and it is untenable. so we are going to keep going at this, holding up our health-care workers in hospitals and we're going to blunt the mortality rate to the highest degree that we can, and we're going to go to this slow gradual re-opening based on cases per 100,000 and positivity rate criterias. >> i think it's a three-tiered -- you just mentioned what it was. >> it's the stoplight red to green. red stop, yellow caution or slow up, green, go.
>> cnn received a letter that the hispanic caucus sent to the biden team urging you for health and human services secretary. are you being vetted for this whole? >> being a cochair of the transition, we are incredibly focused on things americans need right now. you need the kinds of folks identified, appointed and nominated like you saw too, the economic team so, that we can get a stimulus out to the states. my job is to make sure that biden and harris have everything that they need to do that, and while i'm incredibly honored and flattered that may colleagues can see the work i'm doing on the ground and know that i've got 40 years in comprehensive health-care experience, i'm focused on making sure i'm saving new mexicoen lives. in fact, north carolina passed its own stimulus program because we can't wait for the federal government. while i've got total -- i'm
positive about the success of biden and harris with congress to come to a deal, if you're going to have a reset and a slow movement towards economic re-opening and educational in-person successes you have to take care of the people who were laid off and furloughed and the small businesses that don't have access to their customers. so we did all that. housing protection, food security, stimulus through unemployment, $1,200 for every new mexican that's unemployed and small business grants so we can weather the storm. >> you have 40 years experience. so we may see you in the role, but until then, keep fighting and doing the right thing in new mexico. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. i appreciate it. >> i love the tree behind you. >> pretty good. that's new mexico right there. >> it's really beautiful.
thank you. i'll see you soon. be safe. news tonight on the coronavirus vaccine and who might be getting it first, and as the virus rages president biden introduces his economic team and promises to create a recovery for everybody. >> let me be clear -- with this team and others, we'll add in the weeks ahead, that we're going to create a recovery for everybody, for all. we're going to get this economy moving again.
new developments tonight in the fight against the coronavirus. vaccine advisers to the cdc voting 13 to 1 to recommend health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first to receive the coronavirus vaccines. today the united states added over 168,000 new cases of coronavirus and over 2,400 deaths. hospitalizations also at a dangerous and record-breaking levels, over 98,000, the highest
number of covid-19 hospitalizations we have ever experienced. joining me now is dr. michael osterholm, a presidential adviser to president-elect joe biden. doctor, good to see you once again. >> good to see you, don. >> let's discuss. the cdc advisory recommending health-care workers and residents at long-term care facilities get priority by a 13-1 vote. what's the next step? >> well, this is in fact the very first of the recommendations that will be made. this will take care of roughly the 24 million million who will be vaccinated by the end of the year. then the committee is going to have to decide who's next, who's after that. essential workers, people at high risk for serious disease, et cetera, and that recommendation was not yet addressed. >> yeah. i said there was 13 to 1. the no one vote came from
dr. helen talbot of vanderbilt university. she's worried the vaccine hasn't been studied enough in residents of long-term facilities. she said, we hope it works and we hope it's safe. that concerns me on many levels. i got to tell you, a lot of those folks have other health issues. are you worried about adverse reactions to the vaccine? >> we surely have to be mindful of that, but at this point, no. i think the issue we have to deal with -- i would consider it a classic risk/benefit issue. one, what is the risk of getting this infection and dying? that's a pretty bad outcome there. the question around the vaccine, will it actually protect these people? we know with influenza vaccines, older individuals, particularly those in facilities don't respond to the vaccine as well for full protection so i think
that's the challenge we have right now -- will it protect the people? where we're at with long-term care and the number of cases that are occurring there and the number of deaths i think it's a wise move to go ahead and take the vaccine and put it into that area right now. >> so, doctor, two senior administration sources telling cnn that the cdc will soon reduce the number of quarantine days from 14 to possibly 10 or maybe even 7 days with a negative test. do you think more people will follow the rules if they have to quarantine for a shorter amount of time? >> i think they will follow the quarantine rules. remember, when the 14-day quarantine was set up it was very early into the pandemic when we had less information than we do today. if you actually look at the studies that address, when does someone actually become infectious and have clinical signs and symptoms, we see most of that does occur in seven
days. particularly if you have a negative test, that is likely to have a much more positive impact than people who say, i can't do 14 days, so they don't do any at all. i think this is a smart move, and it will help us. >> doctor, cnn obtained a document from operation warp speed to state governors, and it says that pfizer's vaccine will be ready to ship december 15th. moderna around december 22nd. once the states have them, how will they distribute them? >> each state has its own plan, and they're working with their own local health-care providers, local hospitals, and they're make that determination. i imagine it's going to look different in each of the states in terms of which hospitals are going to receive the vaccine first. remember, even within a hospital, which workers will get
the vaccine first has to be determined yet, so those are all part of those plans that are being worked on at the local level right now. >> yeah. the fda commissioner hahn was summoned to the white house today for a meeting with chief of staff mark meadows. the president is pushing for faster approval for pfizer's vaccine. is there a fine line between expediency and pushing too hard and how that might impact the public's trust? >> it's important these vaccines be approved through the standard process of vigorous review by outside advisory groups as well as inside the fda. i have confidence that's what's being done right now. so at this point i believe the science will rule the day, and that's what's important for the public to know also, that they must trust these vaccines when they come out. the only way for that to happen is to have a science-based approach, which is exactly what the biden/harris administration
has indicated it will do. everything will be based on the science. >> dr. osterholm, always a pleasure. thank you, sir. >> thank you, thank you, sir. holiday season in full swing at the white house. even if the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, the halls decked in the theme of america the beautiful. the first lady melania trump posting a video on twitter. ♪ >> so, the decorations are beautiful. i love decorating my house too, as well. we know melania trump hasn't always felt that way. here's what she said about it back in 2018 when she was talking to her former friend who was an informal adviser to the
east wing, and wrote a tell-all book including how the first lady was stressed out about the constant press coverage of her. >> they say i'm complacent, i'm the same as him, i support him. i don't do enough. i put the -- i'm working like a -- my ass off. christmas stuff. who gives a [ bleep ] about christmas stuff and decorations but i need to do it right? >> imagine if michelle obama had been caught on tape saying "f" christmas. the first lady posting photos with a group of young americans who helped create the ornaments. most of the guests are wearing masks but not mrs. trump. the president and first lady planning to host more than a dozen parties after recent events like the rose guard ceremony where president trump introduced his support
nominee. following election night gathering at the white house, more positive cases. congresswoman ilhan omar taking a page from melania trump's be best initiative and retweeting saying, the white house is beautifully decorated and can be appreciated by all if we don't allow politics to dilute everything. attorney general bill barr breaking with the president over his election fraud claims, but will anything in the president's dangerous election fraud fantasy? that as the president is still trying to throw out votes in wisconsin. the secretary of the state of wisconsin weighs in next. ♪ hark the pets instrumental
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derailing his boss' claim of widespread voter fraud. barr telling the associated press, quote, to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election. let's success now. cnn legal analyst, mr. ellie honig is here. esquire i should call you. thank you, for joining. you say this is a devastating blow to all of president trump's conspiracy theories. what does it mean it's coming from bill barr, the great enabler? >> yeah, don, this one's got to sting. can you imagine? bill barr over the last two years has consistently been one of president trump's most fiercest, loyal enablers and side kicks and even he's saying, too much for me. there's nothing there. it was only a few months ago when bill war was sounding the president's talking points about massive fraud. he had no proof. now the election is over, doj has taken a look and they found
nothing and even bill barr has to acknowledge, it's just over. >> rudy giuliani has responded with a statement saying that barr's -- he calls it an opinion -- is without knowledge. it's not a clash of the titans when it comes to credibility between these two men, but what is rudy giuliani talking about? >> rudy giuliani is so far gone, don that, it's really sort of a sad moment for me as an sdny alum, where rudy giuliani used to run it. let's be clear -- it's not rudy giuliani versus bill barr. they both have very serious credibility problems. it's rudy giuliani versus the entire justice department, which has been on bill barr's orders, investigating, looking for this. they can't find it. also in doj's corner is the fbi and chris krebs. rudy is on an island by himself at this point. >> you think about all these
things -- they're living in la-la land. i think about all the commissions and people he's impanelled and all that that have had to go away because he could find nothing, right? like the voter fraud and all. that but he is revealing -- he's also saying he's appointing john durham as a special counsel to look into the origins of the russian investigation into the 2016 trump campaign, which will likely carry over to the biden administration. i mean, could biden fire durham? what's going on? >> this makes it harder. let me put this in perspective. one thing prosecutors are really good at is when they have a really bad case -- we used to call them dogs -- when you have a dog, say siassign it to someo else. i had plenty dumped on me. this is the ultimate dump of the ultimate dog. durham by all appearances was not able to deliver before the
election, and now by doing what he did today, bill barr is saying next attorney general, this is going to be your problem. i think that's really the intent here. >> okay, very, very smart. and we're paying for it, right? are the taxpayers paying for all this investigation? all these people? >> you know it. we're going to maybe some day get a big report saying the whole thing was a big fat dud. >> you missed the open to the 10:00 show. i've got to ask you, though, because durham, as you said, he was under intense pressure to release findings before election day. if you listen to state media -- the durham report, wait until durham -- the durham -- and again, a conspiracy theory or, i don't know, something that nothing ever came of, but what's the point of this? >> at this point that's a great question. we're not even talking about the prior election. we're now talking about two elections ago.
2016. that's ancient history at this point. and look, doj was willing to bend the rules. normally you don't announce an investigation within 60 days of an election. bill barr said, i may be willing to do this for durham. but guess what? he didn't have anything worth announcing. his top lieutenant resigned because she believed they were under undue pressure. but ultimately it's the same theme really with the election fraud thing and durham. bill barr can twist the truth, twist the fact, distort the law. he's done ploent enty of that, he's not a wizard. >> oh, but they try. tonight we're seeing these court records that show the doj is investigating a potential pardon bribery scheme. it doesn't involve a government official, but what are the legal imp implicati
imp imp limply communications here? >> the president tweeted this is fake news. t not fake news. it's no court documents. some person that's not known was trying to engineer a pardon by paying money. we don't know who the recipient was. any number of people would receive a pardon, but there's only one person who can give a point guarden and we know who that is. now, maybe the money didn't go directly to that person, but there are plenty of political groups affiliated with that person. there are plenty of ways to make a payment that could please that person. the important thing that jumped out to me is that doj understands the pardon power can be used in a criminal way, and it's encouraging to me to see they're at least investigating the possibility that if there's foul play, if there's bribery, if there's obstruction, that should be a crime and doj is treating it as a crime. i think that's a good thing. >> always a pleasure. thank you, sir. >> you too, don, thanks. the trump campaign seeking
democratic counties uncovered serious legality issues, okay, in the way that ballots were cast and counted, specifically taking aim at absentee voting in the state. joining me now to discuss, wisconsin's secretary of state. him will i'm so happy to have you on. really appreciate it. let's get to the bottom of this, shall we? the results have been certified in your state. the lawsuit doesn't claim any of the voters were ineligible to vote in wisconsin, so what's the problem? >> well, no, like you said, i signed the certificate of electors yesterday at about 4:30 and that ended the process and now of course as you know, there's five days possible for lawsuits. so they filed their lawsuits, and like i heard you say before it's la-la land in wisconsin, because this case, again, has no merit. and we can talk about some of the details. basically, rather than try to individually decide that that
vote or that vote was wrong, for some reason, they've picked whole classes of votes. for example, they picked 17,200 some ballots that were delivered on weekends to the election facilities in city parks. because of the virus epidemic they decided to have a public opening area where people could bring their ballots and deposit them in safe locations with elected official there is to supervise, and there were 17,000 of those over two weekends that were deposited. so they're saying that that process is not legal. and then the other thing they want to do is we have early voting as many places do. in fact, our good president was encouraging early voting, if i remember. so early voting you go into a
location and you sign up and you vote, and don't need to file an absentee ballot form to do that because you're not really voting absentee, you're voting early, but they're claiming some 100,000 ballots invalid because people voted early. so that's the kind of thing they're up to, and it has no merit. i'm hoping that our supreme court will see through this nonsense. >> so then what is the cost to wisconsin? and really the country, i should be asking you -- to have to keep dealing with these challenges? >> well, they had the pay $3 million for the recount, and that covered the cost of the recount. this challenge doesn't cost a whole lot because it's just a matter of appearing before the supreme court, and he'll have his lawyers here. i'm not sure our good friend giuliani is coming to wisconsin
or not. and of course we'll have our attorney general defending the process. i think the court may refuse to take the case. in other places -- pennsylvania, et cetera -- the court has said there's no merit. we're not even going to take this case. so we'll see. our court is divided. it's 4-3, republican. but there's at least one republican who has shown some common sense in the past, so i'm hoping that our court will just see this for what it is, another way for trump to continue to raise millions of dollars from his loyal fans. >> $170 million so far. >> my goodness. >> what about the political cost? the longer the legal challenges go on, the longer there will be people who believe there must be something to them. are you worried about this understood mining the faith in the election process in wisconsin? >> yeah, all sort of joking aside, don, you're absolutely
right. i have been in government, in politics and academia for many years and it's very sad to see our democracy being trashed by this president and his minions like mr. mcconnell and other people that refuse to acknowledge the election results. it's bewildering. it is bewildering to me how so many of millions of citizens who you and i walk by every day on the street if we're out walking with our masks on, can really believe this sort of thing. and i don't know how long it's going take for us to win back the democratic process of voting and electing our leadership that we had here for so many years until recently. >> secretary, best of luck to you. thank you so much. >> you bet, don, thank you very much. >> we'll be right back. (doorbell rings)
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good evening. two stories dominate the news tonight. one concerns something that exists, and thank goodness for it. at least two effective vaccines against coronavirus. officials meet today about who gets the vaccine first. we begin with the other big story which is all about something doesn't exist, and the con games surrounding it.
you may think about the americans who have died on the president's watch may have been something that he would be concerned about. instead the man is occupied with the white house and what i am sad to say a con game over the election he lost. how is it a con game? well, the president is peddling the idea it is not true. in exchange, he's taking their money, about $170 million which is small dollar donors', going to legal expenses relating to the election. it is largely not. that's what a con man does and that's what the president seems to be doing. don't take it from us, take it from republicans and judges that