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Celebrations Erupt Across The U.S. After Biden Clinches Race; Kushner Approaches Trump About Conceding
by CNN
 Published on Monday November 9, 2020 - 2:13 AM
* US Presidential Election *
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Celebrations Erupt Across The U.S. After Biden Clinches Race; Kushner Approaches Trump About Conceding; Trump Has Not Reached Out To Biden; President-Elect Joe Biden Calls For Unity; Trump Campaign Files Suits In Several States; Democrats Hope To Turn Georgia Blue. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired November 8, 2020 - 03:00 ET





JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Joe Biden says he will restore the soul of America shortly after becoming president-elect of this deeply divided nation.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We're so glad you're with us on this momentous day. I'm Poppy Harlow live in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, where it is now 3:00 am on the East Coast, midnight in the West. Thanks so much for joining us.

A remarkable day, remarkable week, remarkable year. So much to come. The U.S. election result, it has been called. The Trump presidency is rounding the corner, headed into the history books. And the Biden era, the Biden-Harris era, is about to begin.

HARLOW: Exactly. On Saturday, Joe Biden delivered his presidential victory speech in Delaware. But he's got little time to celebrate, with so many daunting tasks ahead. The U.S. just reported the most new coronavirus cases in a single day since this pandemic began.

Biden also faces something that really no vaccine or facial covering, no mask, can remedy and that is the deep political divide in this country.

SCIUTTO: Keep in mind, even though Trump lost, more than 70 million Americans voted to keep him. And his influence likely will be felt in Washington long after he's gone. Several Republicans in Congress are still resisting the idea, despite the facts, despite the numbers, despite the results in states across the country, that the race is over.

Biden, though, pledged to bridge those divides.


BIDEN: Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.

The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not some mysterious force beyond our control; it's a decision, a choice we make. If we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.

And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people. They want us to cooperate in their interests and that's the choice I'll make. I'll call on Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike to make that choice with me.


HARLOW: So for Joe Biden, this was the third try. Remember, he's run for president twice before. So third time the charm.

For his running mate, senator, now Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, it is history in a big way that she has made.

She is the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person, the first South Asian, to be elected U.S. vice president. She spoke in her remarks of her late mother, who emigrated from India.


KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: She believed so deeply in America where a moment like this is possible. And so I'm thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women --


HARRIS: -- Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation's history have paved the way for this moment tonight.



HARLOW: Those are pictures on Saturday of Atlanta, Georgia, just one of many celebrations that erupted across the country when Biden supporters learned that their candidate had won.

People honking horns, waving signs, marching and chanting after several days of drama and tension and anticipation. Let's begin this hour with our colleague and friend, Jason Carroll. He joins us live from Wilmington, Delaware, where the president-elect and the vice president-elect delivered their victory speeches.

What was it like, Jason?


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were celebrating here as well, Poppy, as you can imagine, those who support Joe Biden, saying, when he took the stage as president-elect for the first time, he gave what they say is the best speech that he's ever given his entire life.

Most of the messaging we heard is some of the same messaging we've heard since the very beginning of this campaign. It was a message of unity. You talked about it there. He has always talked about wanting to unify the country; that is why he got into the race in the beginning.

He talked about that during his speech, recapturing the soul of the nation as well. It was certainly a message that resonated with many of those that we spoke to, who came out here tonight to listen to Joe Biden, many of them from Wilmington, many of them from Delaware.

I spoke to one woman whose daughter is biracial. She said that, once she saw Joe Biden there, once she saw Kamala Harris there, she had a new sense of faith in the country.

And that was just one of the themes that folks we talked to say they got out of the speech: faith. They also said they felt a great deal of relief, one person told me. Another said this was the man who could finally bring the country together.

Spoke a little bit about Kamala Harris. She made history in her own right, being the first woman of color to be vice president-elect. She talked about, the country had chosen three things, decency, truth and hope.

But Harris also talked about the need to, really, this is the time the country is going to have to get to work, with the pandemic, with the economic crisis facing the country as well.

Biden said on Monday he is going to be announcing a 12-person Coronavirus Task Force to deal with the pandemic. And looking forward, there's been much talk about the transition.

Will the Trump administration cooperate with the transition?

The Biden team is ready for whatever may come, including that, if it does come to that. But their transition team has been working behind the scenes, Poppy, since Labor Day, putting together the names of some people who might be key people for key cabinet posts. So they've done that.

Biden has said that, whatever his cabinet looks like, it will reflect the country. It will be diverse. That's down the line. For now, this is a time for the Biden team and his family to celebrate and that's what they're doing.

HARLOW: For sure they are, right, and the hard work begins in the morning.

Jason, before you go, you talked a little bit about Vice President- Elect Harris and what she said on stage. We saw the reaction of some of the little girls in the crowd and what this means for them to witness, witness this history.

But if you think about Senator Harris, she wrote in her memoir about, back in the early 1970s, in Berkeley, watching Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to mount a national campaign for the president.

And she wrote about thinking, in that moment, talk about strength. So to go from that to actually winning this, you know, it leaves people speechless.

CARROLL: Right. And the moment was not lost on some of those who were -- some of the women of color who came out to hear Vice President- Elect Harris give her speech.

She acknowledged when she was up on that stage that she is standing on the shoulders of others who came before her. And that was not lost on many of the women who came out here.

And there were a few who said, yes; yes, I came out here to support Joe Biden but I'm also here to support Kamala Harris. Again, I very briefly mentioned this one woman whose daughter is biracial who I spoke to.

And she really said that, when Kamala Harris was up there on the stage -- look, she had seen Barack Obama before. But when Kamala Harris was there on the stage, it really made it all real for her, what this country is and what the country could be for her daughter.

HARLOW: Jason, thank you. It means a lot to us that you stayed up all night to bring us the reporting live from Wilmington, Delaware, where it must have been quite a night. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: There is no precedent for this. The president has not accepted the results of the election, at least publicly. CNN has learned that President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has approached him about conceding the election.

HARLOW: That's right. Sources tell CNN that the president has privately acknowledged that he really does not have a chance of winning re-election. Still, he is pursuing multiple legal challenges in multiple states that could delay or attempting to delay a formal certification of the results.

SCIUTTO: Here's the problem because, publicly, the sitting U.S. president is continuing to attack the integrity of this election, saying it's fraudulent, saying it didn't happen. This despite being 4 million votes, so far, behind Biden in the popular vote.


SCIUTTO: He tweeted, "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!" Well, that's not what the state election officials, many of whom are

Republican, are saying after the vote's been counted. CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the White House.

Jared Kushner has a close relationship with his father-in-law, the president. But there have been times he's advised the president to do things and the president has not listened to him.

What are you hearing from folks inside this administration about where the president stands now?

Can he be convinced to recognize the reality here publicly?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I think the point you're making is a very important one. Yes, Jared Kushner perhaps wields as much influence as anyone inside the Trump White House. He is one of the president's closest advisers, in addition to being his son-in-law.

But ultimately, Donald Trump does what Donald Trump wants to do. So it is going to have to be the president himself who finally meets the reality of this situation, that he is trailing the now president-elect Joe Biden by more than 4 million votes in the popular vote.

He is not going to be able to make up the difference in these key battlegrounds that allowed Joe Biden to get to the 270 mark. And he's got to now start to begin the process of conceding this election.

It's not easy for Donald Trump. He is someone who has made a big deal out of not liking losers. So to be a loser, especially on a stage as big as this one, has got to be difficult for Trump.

What I would point out, Jim, is, while we're not hearing all that much out of the White House, they've been very quiet, outside of the barrage of tweets that the president put out around the time that the networks called the election and the statement that he put out that promised he was going to dig in his heels.

Things have gotten very quiet in the Trump orbit. The president's Twitter feed has calmed down. Even his closest associates, the members of his campaign, even his children, have really stopped talking about the results of this election. That doesn't tell us anything other than they stopped talking.

But perhaps it's an indication that things are starting to thaw, that the president is starting to recognize exactly what's happening here and that he'll take the next step to concede the election.

Now there is a number of things at play right now. The Trump campaign has already filed lawsuits in a number of these battleground states. They've already requested or at least have said that they intend to request recounts in the states where the margin is close enough to make a difference.

So there is stuff still in play here that could prevent him from taking that step, of formally conceding. Part of the thinking by some in the White House is the president is

looking for some sort of an exit strategy so that he can save face, say that he is willing to accept the results of this election but only because of X, Y, Z. So this could take time.

There aren't many people who think the president is going to wake up Sunday morning and decide he's willing to be gracious, call Joe Biden and put an end to all of this. As you rightly pointed out an hour ago, a concession here is not necessary.

But it is something that has been a tradition in the United States. It makes the transition of power much easier if you have a willing participant that will exit the White House without much of a fight. We have about 75 days or so for the president to make up his mind before Joe Biden is inaugurated, so we're going to have to see how this plays out.

SCIUTTO: In the meantime, listen to those state election officials, right?

Both parties or no party, they're the ones who counted the votes, by state law. They're the ones to listen to here. CNN's Ryan Nobles at the White House, thanks very much.

HARLOW: In his victory speech, U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden called for unity. That was his overriding message, unity in America.

How do you accomplish that with such a divided nation?

We'll talk to political insiders right after this.






BIDEN: The people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we, the people. We've won with the most votes ever cast in a presidential ticket in the history of the nation.


HARLOW: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of America's choice 2020 and this presidential election. U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden during his victory speech Saturday night in Delaware. His biggest theme was unity, unifying a deeply divided America.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I think we all wanted or most of us do, can he and Kamala Harris do that?

We're joined by Democratic strategic Hilary Rosen and Republican strategist Doug Heye.

Thanks to both of you. Debt of gratitude for joining us on the early morning hours here.

Doug, if I can, I'm going to begin with you, as someone who's spent a lot of time in the RNC, in the Republican Party here.

Just with the first step in this, right, which is, can the president, who still clearly has an enormous following in this country, can and will he grant not only that he lost, right, but that this was a legitimate election so that you don't have this kind of cloud hanging over it for a large portion of the country?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the answer is, at least for now, no because he's set up in advance, well, the mail-in votes are fraudulent. Now he's saying, well, what I said was fraudulent is fraudulent, so I didn't lose.

We know Donald Trump has never taken the blame for anything. It's never going to be his fault. So on we go.

And I think Joe Biden made not only a great speech today but also the inevitable of, this is where the votes were going. And it's a -- you know, I got a lot of criticism from my Democratic friends in 2016, when I said, even though I was very critical of Donald Trump, that he won fair and square in 2016.

Well, Joe Biden won fair and square this time, so let's move on.


HARLOW: Hilary Rosen, to you, what is the mandate now for the Biden- Harris ticket?

Because before they were on the same ticket, they were on very different sides of some key issues in terms of what they thought was best for the American people.


HARLOW: Whether it was Medicare for all, whether it was a Green New Deal. And the fact that Democrats lost some seats in the House, particularly some seats that they had flipped in 2018, does that mean that they will take, should take, have a mandate to take a more centrist lane?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, first, I think that there are a lot of Republicans, the ones that Doug still talks to, who actually have to take this message away from President Trump, just on that last point, that there are other people who can speak to fair- minded Republicans across the country and they should do that.

I think the most important thing that Joe Biden said to me tonight was that, how we act from now on is a decision. It's not, you know -- these things aren't baked in. You know, this partisan divide, this hatred of other side, this is not baked in. This is a decision and we have to make a decision to make it better.

So I think that there is a sense among the Harris-Biden team that they are going to role model that for the rest of us. And that includes the Democrats who want more than we're going to be able to get. And it includes Republicans who don't want to do anything but know that there are things to change.

And I feel like that is our mantra going forward, is that we have to figure out how to not just restore the soul of the nation but actually restore a government that works for people. And Joe Biden actually believes in a government that works for people.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I'm so glad you said that. We have to make a choice. And that's true of any progress this country has made. Civil rights legislation was a choice. It took work and compromise to do it. It's a long list of things in that category.

Doug, so --

ROSEN: One thing, though, Jim. I think that people underestimate how unsafe so many people have felt during a Trump administration. And once that tension leaves us, as you guys know, my kids are Black. My daughter looked at Kamala Harris tonight and thought, that could be me.

My son -- you know, a president who actually worries that he might get killed just being stopped for a traffic violation, those things matter. Once the tension comes out of people, there's an enormous amount that you can do, once you're not worrying about your day-to-day survival.

SCIUTTO: Listen, people are resilient, right?

They are. We've shown that, too, as a country, as a people.

Doug, paint for us, if you can, a picture of how this might work, right?

Because folks at home, they want to get -- infrastructure, they want to get some deals done; they want to have a discussion about immigration law, about improvements to health care, et cetera.

Can you paint us a picture about what's realistic in the near term?

HEYE: Yes, what I don't want to do is paint an overly rosy picture.


HEYE: Infrastructure, it's something that you can get bipartisan compromise on. COVID relief is something you can get bipartisan agreement on. And Joe Biden is uniquely positioned to do that.

The first job I had in politics with working for Jesse Helms.

Who did he work with most closely on the Democratic side?

Joe Biden. My last job on Capitol Hill, Eric Kenner.

Who did he work with most closely on the Democratic side?

Joe Biden.

Joe Biden has the attitude, the mentality of, let's work together and solve these problems. We're not going to agree on everything but let's agree on what we can agree on, fight on what we don't agree on and figure out the other stuff in between.

Here's why it matters. After all the horns were honking here in Washington -- and I thought it was because of the Duke-Carolina football game.



HEYE: But I went to pick up a package in my building and I couldn't get the code to work.

And this lady said, "I can get you in."

And she gave me the code.

And I said, "Where's your accent from?"

She said, "I'm from Syria. We elected a new president today."

And I said, "Oh my goodness, of course, we did."

And she was from Syria. And she said, "This is the first time in my life I've ever been able to vote."

And that hit me so hard, more than anything that I've heard over the past -- this campaign, the past four years, this is why our elections matter. This is why our election processes matter.

It's why the rhetoric that Donald Trump has used and is still using and potentially may use for the next week is so destructive and why the message that Joe Biden, of all the things I'm in disagreement his administration, all the things that Hilary and I are going to fight on the next four years.


HEYE: It's why the good message that he brings, the necessary message he brings, is what provides hope to so many Americans and also to our allies and the right message to our adversaries as well.

HARLOW: Well, it brings up the very important point that America won, in that more people voted than ever, that We had such an engaged electorate in the middle of a pandemic. And I would like to shout-out my home state of Minnesota, where Hilary, 80 percent of the electorate in Minnesota voted.

ROSEN: Amazing.

SCIUTTO: Eligible, right, Poppy?

HARLOW: Eligible, yes.

SCIUTTO: Eligible, not just registered but eligible, remarkable.

HARLOW: I always tell you guys, all good things stem from that state.

Hilary, I would be remiss in not asking you about Senator Harris and her remarks tonight. It was this line that really struck me. She talked about the audacity of Joe Biden to pick a Black woman to be his running mate. We now know from Jim Clyburn, who told our Dana Bash today, he was the one who really pushed Biden to choose a Black woman.

ROSEN: Yes. Look. I have to, you know, bow down and, you know, with all the grace and gratitude I can to Black women this year, given everything that they have gone through over the last several years, as moms, with police brutality, out in the streets fighting for their children and then to bring this election home in such a profound way in so many cities in this country.

Where we would not be where we are right now if it were not for sort of the grace and the ability of Black women in particular to rise to the occasion and get to the polls, not just complain, not just seek justice but to actually get to the polls.

And so I think that Kamala was paying homage to that. And as a white woman who is frustrated with the amount of support that Donald Trump got, I'm all about trying to figure out how to do better with this because we just need more alliance. We need to stand with Black women every day.

HARLOW: Thank you both. So good to have your choices. We look forward to having civil debates with both of you on the issues in the years ahead, Hilary Rosen, Doug Heye.

HEYE: Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: We'll do better. We'll do better.

Well, U.S. president Donald Trump, he's not accepting the election results. He's promising to file more lawsuits this week about the election. Not clear what the legal basis is for them. We're going to discuss whether he has a legal leg to stand on.





SCIUTTO: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of America's choice in the 2020 election. Thanks so much for joining us.

President-Elect Joe Biden jogging onto the stage to deliver his victory speech Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware. But his speech was less a triumphant declaration, more of an earnest call, sincere call, to heal a deeply divided nation.

HARLOW: That's right. Among his appeals, Biden reached out directly to the 70 million-plus Americans who did not vote for him, who instead cast their vote for President Trump. And he asked them to give their ticket a chance.


BIDEN: Folks, I'm a proud Democrat. But I will govern as an American president. I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.

The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.


HARLOW: Let's bring in our friend and colleague, Toluse Olorunnipa, from "The Washington Post."

It is almost 3:30 am on the East Coast. Thank you for being with us.

As the sun prepares to come up, it is going to be a new day in America. Also the morning when the really hard work begins. I'm just reminded, watching the speeches from the vice president-elect and the president-elect, that a democracy is not a given, that it is earned, it is earned through hard work, it is up to every American to uphold our democracy.

So for those 70-plus million Americans who voted for President Trump, what does this ticket owe to them?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, I think it's important to note the history-making moment of so many people turning out to vote, period, whoever they voted for. More than 145 million people voted in the last election and that is just a record number in the past 100 years, a record number of votes for Joe Biden.

Now Joe Biden has also talked about the people who did not vote for him and that is also a record number for a losing candidate. No losing candidate has gotten 70 million votes before. That is a large number of Americans who have a stake in what Joe Biden is going to do.

And he does owe them an olive branch. He gave one to them yesterday, saying even if you didn't vote for me, I'm going to be your president, we should work together. It's going to require compromise. Not only because it's the right thing to, do but also because the politics of the moment also demand compromise. At least at this moment, the Democrats do not have control of the

Senate, the upper chamber. In order to get any legislation passed, they're going to have to work across the aisle with Republicans.

Joe Biden, who lived and worked in the Senate for six terms, more than 35 years, he has a history of sort of knowing how that chamber works, knowing how two sides come together, knowing how to sort of calm the tensions that sometimes you get in the House, where it's all about majority rule.

It's gotten much more polarized in recent years than it was when he was first starting out as a senator. But it's going to be important that he try, if he's going to get anything done as president, that he try to revive some of that spirit of camaraderie and bipartisanship of the old days of the Senate.


OLORUNNIPA: Otherwise, it's just going to be more gridlock and it's going to be very hard for anything to be done in Congress and he's going to just be signing executive orders and not having the kind of legacy you might want as a president.

HARLOW: It's taken 243 years to get a woman as vice president in the White House. Way too long. But it has now happened. And there's history on so many fronts. A woman and a Black woman.

What does this actually mean in terms of action and progress for the Black woman that pushed this ticket, the Black women in this country that pushed this ticket over the finish line?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the president-elect and the vice president-elect, they both gave shout-outs to the women who helped put them into where they're going to be shortly, into the White House.

And they both essentially said that we will not forget you. We owe you a debt of gratitude. We will fight for you while we're in power. That's something I think a lot of the women who voted for Kamala Harris and Joe Biden will be watching for.

They are very happy to see this history being made. They're happy with the imagery, happy with the symbolism. You can show your children, your daughters, that it is possible in America for a woman to reach the second highest office in the land.

I think, once they get into office, they will need to deliver on some of that enthusiasm that helped propel them into office. There are a number of different issues, from the high mortality rate for pregnant Black women who give birth and have a much higher mortality rate than any other group.

There are many things that need to be addressed through policy to focus on the issues. Regular bread and butter issues like poverty and unemployment and lack of health care. Those are all issues that are going to be on the agenda, all issues that I think a number of the voters who helped put them into office will be waiting to see if they can deliver on.

And they have a very significant and hard task of delivering for those voters and for all voters who are looking for a change, looking for policy differences, that want their lives to change. They don't want to have to know that a record number of people voted and then everything stayed the same.

So they have a pretty high and difficult task of trying to deliver on their prescriptions but it's going to be important for them to do so if they're going to restore faith in the system that so many people decided to have faith in and cast their vote through.

HARLOW: Not to mention how hard it is to unseat an incumbent president who is running again. The hard work begins for sure. Toluse, thanks very much, good to have you.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: The current president, Donald Trump, is not conceding the election. In fact, he's actively contesting it, promising that his campaign will file more lawsuits on Monday, disputing in various ways the vote count in various states.


HARLOW: Mr. Trump was golfing. These are images of earlier on Saturday when CNN and other networks called the race for Joe Biden. In a statement from the president, he said this.

Quote, "We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner and why the media allies are trying so hard to help him. They don't want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over."

But Jim, that's not a fact at all.

SCIUTTO: Haven't presented any evidence of it. Let's speak about this with legal analyst Elie Honig.

There are a bunch of different legal paths here in different states that the president and his campaign are trying to pursue.

Do any of them have legal merit?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, for the most part, based on what we've seen so far, they have nothing. And one of the great things about our court system and our legal system is, you need proof. You can't just go in there with an allegation or a tweet or a conspiracy theory.

The way you can see that they've got nothing so far, look how quick these cases are getting dismissed, thrown out of court. Already Trump campaign cases dismissed out of Georgia, Arizona, Michigan. That tells you they just don't have anything to go in there with.

The only exception is the case challenging the extended deadline in Pennsylvania, from November 3rd to November 6th. But it looks like, A, Pennsylvania is not going to be enough to swing this election; B, the number of ballots at issue is not going to be nearly enough to swing Pennsylvania.

Unless they come up with something new and compelling real quick, they've got nothing here.

SCIUTTO: Notable that Justice Alito of the Supreme Court, he did order Pennsylvania to continue to segregate those ballots, which actually they were already doing.

I just wonder, what does that tell us about the Supreme Court's potential role here in that particular case?

HONIG: That signaled to me clearly that the Supreme Court is in fact willing to rule in the Trump campaign's favor on that case and basically say, anything that arrived between November 3rd and November 6th we're willing to throw out.


HONIG: And other justices, conservative justices, signaled a similar disposition. The problem for the Trump campaign is, it doesn't get them anywhere. The number of ballots looks like it's going to be way short of the margin.

Even if by some miracle they did flip Pennsylvania, it looks like the electoral margin is going to be too big. If that's the reality, I don't think it's likely the Supreme Court even touches this case.

SCIUTTO: Folks at home might be confused, and, I am too, the Supreme Court had a couple of chances before the election to stand in the way of that.

We wait until after?

I thought there was a deference given to folks voting under the existing law as they understood it or as it stood before the election then being told afterwards, well, that's not allowed?

HONIG: Yes, that's a great point. So beforehand, the Trump campaign was asking the Supreme Court essentially to expedite hearing this case. The Supreme Court declined to do that. Now they're potentially asking the Supreme Court to hear the case altogether. One X factor, Amy Coney Barrett was not part of those original rulings. She could be part of that.

But the theory is called reliance. Pennsylvania voters were told by their state Supreme Court, it's fine as long as your ballots arrive by November 6th. They sent them in, several arrived November 4th, 5th, 6th.

Then to pull the rug out and say, no, those are no good, that is unfair on a basic level, also legally, it's something the Supreme Court is not going to look fondly on. SCIUTTO: Yes, I thought the whole idea was, let states write the laws.

I've heard some conservative justices say that before. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, great to have you on.

Joe Biden struck a conciliatory tone after winning the U.S. presidential election.

Will it be enough to reunite the divided nation?

We'll discuss with CNN contributor John Dean ahead.





HARLOW: Welcome back to our live coverage of America's choice in the 2020 election. The decisive victory of Joe Biden and now Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is not going to erase deep political divides in America.


PROTESTERS: No more Trump. No more Trump.

HARLOW (voice-over): Those are images on Saturday right in New York City, where Biden supporters were jubilant after he clinched and topped the required 270 electoral votes, celebrations in the streets like this one -- this is right in Columbus Circle. It's also notably outside of one of the Trump Towers in New York -- erupted within moments of the race being called.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): People wanted President Trump to get four more years. He still has an enormous amount of support in this country. There are lots of hard feelings, disappointment; understandable.


SCIUTTO: John Dean has been observing this political evolution since his days as President Nixon's White House counsel, more than 45 years ago. Of course, another divisive time. He joins us now from Los Angeles.

Mr. Dean, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So let me ask you, looking ahead for a moment here, your experience in the Nixon administration and the time that followed, what does this country need now to move beyond Donald Trump and this period of division or at least improve it?

DEAN: I don't think anybody imagines it's going to disappear, just at least improve it.

What does it need now, this country?

DEAN: Well, the polarization appears to be fairly well imprinted on the system right now. It's a question of personalities, different views, looks -- the way we look at life, what have you. This is causing the division.

What we have to find are things that we have in common with each other. And I think if this new president, if Biden can find big projects and issues that there is common interest in, that he can somehow dissolve a little bit of the hard edges of the polarization. And I think that's what he's planning to do.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about the current president and what happens with him. Let's set aside his continuing to dispute the election without foundation and talk about his potential legal troubles going forward and what he might do to head that off, including the possibility of a self-pardon, maybe an amnesty for everybody who worked in the administration.

One, can he do it?

And would it stand, in your view?

DEAN: I think if he realizes he's losing the office, if some of these outrageous attacks, even to the stage of trying to corrupt several state legislators to send in -- electors, excuse me, I lost that word at this early hour -- early electors to differ with the outcome of the state -- if he even goes that far, well, and he says it's not going to work, then he's going to be looking at a pardon because he knows he's in deep trouble when he loses the Office of the President, which is protecting him right now.

For example, the State of New York, both the D.A. in Manhattan and the attorney general of the state are investigating him very vigorously. And he's got criminal exposure.

So he might be thinking about a pardon on the federal level. He can't pardon himself, however, on the state level. So he might try to negotiate a deal on, I'm not going to leave until I get the state to settle this up as well. I don't know what all he's going to do.

I'm saying he's still in a position of leverage and I expect the worst, Jim, unfortunately, and hope for the best.

SCIUTTO: Do you have a message for the president, if he happens to be watching right now, about what is best to do for the country, not himself?

DEAN: Well, if he has any thoughts about a political future, do not do any of these outlandish, leveraged efforts to protect yourself. Stand up and face the music and you might get a solution to some of these things.

SCIUTTO: John Dean, we appreciate your thoughts and your time tonight. Thanks so much.

DEAN: I thank you all for delivering the news this late.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

HARLOW: Always good to have John Dean.

So the Republican Party may be losing its hold on what has been, for 28 years, a reliably red state. Ahead, we're going to find out why the state of Georgia could be flipping blue, next.





SCIUTTO: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of America's choice and the 2020 election.

Considering no Democratic presidential candidate has won the state of Georgia since 1992, the Republican-dominated state has been a surprise battleground in this election. But even as supporters celebrated Joe Biden's victory by dancing in the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, the actual statewide results have yet to be finalized.

HARLOW: Georgia carries 16 electoral votes. And a huge drive by Democrats to turn out the votes there has given Biden a narrow lead so far in the count over the president by just over 9,000 votes. Let's bring in Patricia Murphy, political reporter for the fantastic newspaper, "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution."

It's really good to have you.

Can you explain why this moment -- it has been 28 years since any Democrat has been able to do this.

If Joe Biden can pull off a win in Georgia, is it him?

Is it the moment?

Is it both?

PATRICIA MURPHY, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION": I would say it is certainly both. There are a lot of trends that are coming together in Georgia for Democrats this year.


MURPHY: First, the demographics of the state are changing very quickly, like the rest of the country. Georgia's becoming more diverse and younger. And that is helping the Democrats.

The Democrats have also had a major, massive voter mobilization effort for the last four years that has helped them a lot. And I would say Joe Biden is a big piece of this as well. He was the right candidate for the right time for the Democrats. So it's a number of factors and it's all coming together for them.

HARLOW: In terms of the "get out the vote" factor for Democrats in the state of Georgia, explain to people the importance of Stacey Abrams, someone who many wanted to run for Senate, who did not; who instead used her power and her time and her voice for her group, Fair Fight, to fight voter suppression in Georgia.

I mean, talk about how much credit she gets for what may turn Georgia blue this year.

MURPHY: Stacey Abrams gets a lot of the credit. She doesn't get all of the credit; obviously, there have been civil rights groups in the state, mobilizing voters for years. But she was described to me as the woman who led the parade and really brought voter mobilization to scale in the state; now I would say, really, starting across the country.

She was the House minority leader here. She ran for governor, obviously in 2018. And in 2018, even though she didn't win, she built this massive infrastructure. And I say that she basically built a house for Democrats. She left and she let them still live in her house.

And they were able to really turn out hundreds and thousands of new voters in 2018 and in 2020. And she gets, I would say, a majority of the credit for what's happened with Georgia this year.

HARLOW: Thirty seconds left. Explain to people the significance of the two runoff elections for the Georgia Senate seats in January.

And do Democratic candidates have a shot?

MURPHY: I would say the significance is the future of the U.S. Senate and the future of the Biden presidency. And I would say, because of that significance, the Democrats do have a shot.

These will be bitterly, hard-fought, expensive contests. I would say the dynamics have changed overnight in both of those races because of how important they are. And we'll see, January 5th, what happens. We've got nine weeks of money and ads coming our way here in Georgia. And we're ready for it.

HARLOW: No pressure on both sides.


HARLOW: All right, we appreciate it. Thanks for getting up early for us, Patricia Murphy, thank you.

Thanks to all of you for being with us this hour. I'm Poppy Harlow. Our special election coverage continues right after this.