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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 11, 2020 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." both president trump and president-elect joe biden marked veterans day today as we learned new information about the
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presidential transition. sources now tell cnn the president-elect is expected to name his incoming white house chief of staff as soon as tomorrow and that long-time biden ally ron klain is the leading finalist. cabinet nominations could be announced next month. president trump on the other hand continues to threaten american democracy with totally baseless claims about voter fraud and his refusal to acknowledge his election loss. the president met with his advisers today to try to plot some sort of path forward, but mr. trump's allies are privately saying there's almost no chance, repeat no chance, his legal challenges will reverse the results of this historic election. we're also tracking the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 240,000 americans, more than 10.3 million americans have been infected. and just yesterday the united states reported a record 136,000 new cases and more than 1400 u.s. deaths. let's begin our coverage with
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cnn's arlette saenz following the biden transition for us. she's in wilmington, delaware. the president-elect starting his day honoring american veterans on this veterans day, and we've now learned he's expected to name his incoming chief of staff potentially as early as tomorrow. what else can you tell us? >> reporter: well, wolf, president-elect joe biden is making it clear that he is moving forward with his transition despite road blocks being put up from the trump administration. and our colleague jeff zeleny has learned that he could be announcing his chief of staff as early as tomorrow. that is a key position within the west wing. and the leading contender for that spot is considered to be ron klain. ron klain and joe biden go back quite a long time. klain actually served as his chief of staff when biden first went to the white house as vice president. klain also led the response to the ebola crisis during the obama administration. and klain has been one of those
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key advisers to biden throughout his presidential run. he has led his debate prep and been there for many of the major decisions. and this step that's expected to come in just a matter of days really highlights biden's desire to move forward with his transition. there's also a possibility that other senior staff members could be announced as soon as this week. and one thing that biden has in his arsenal compared to when president trump started in his administration is that biden has a strong, stable of advisers who have previous white house experien experience. so there's a likelihood he could lean on some of those as he's trying to put together this team that will lead his white house. >> arlette, stand by. i want to get back to you in a moment but i want to go to cnn's jeremy diamond over at the white house right now. he's getting new information. jeremy, the president is plotting a path forward but some of his advisers we understand now are privately acknowledging his legal challenges for all practical purposes have little
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hope. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. publicly we've seen many of the president's allies on tv parroting these same baseless voter fraud claims that the president is making but privately, wolf, i've been told by multiple sources that the president's advisers are clear-eyed about the fact that there is very little path forward for these legal efforts. nonetheless, the president huddled once again with his advisers as he did yesterday to try and chart a path forward to contest this election and the presidential is showing no sign that he is prepared to concede. with just 70 days until inauguration president trump is continuing to deny reality, refusing to admit defeat even as his advisers privately acknowledge he cannot reverse the election results. after attending a veterans day ceremony trump huddling with advisers again today to discuss a path forward to contest the election, offering no signs he plans to concede. instead he has told aides to continue pursuing lawsuits and
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recounts in key battleground states. publicly, his advisers are on the same page. >> it's been rigged from the beginning. rigged from the laws that were being passed in the name of covid to create a porous election. >> reporter: but privately sources telling cnn the president's allies see almost no chance their legal challenges will succeed and they expect those legal avenues will be exhausted by next week. while trump focuses on dead end legal fights the coronavirus pandemic is worsening across the u.s. and continuing to spread inside the white house. the white house political director joining the list of a half dozen trump aides who have tested positive in the last week. powerless against the loft voters and unwilling to tack the the pandemic, trump is imposing his will at the pentagon, firing the secretary of defense and replacing three other senior defense officials with loyalists. a defense official calling the purge scary and unsettling, telling cnn these are dictator
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moves. sources telling cnn that fbi director chris wray and cia director gina haspel could be next. meanwhile, election officials across the country say they have found no evidence of fraud or irregularities that could swing the presidential race including philadelphia's republican city commissioner al schmidt. >> i have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all, and see them spread. one thing i can't comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies. >> reporter: minutes later the president taking aim, calling schmidt a "so-called republican who refuses to look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty." the reality a resounding victory for biden, who is ahead by more than 5 million votes nationally and winning the three states that handed trump the presidency in 2016 by a margin of victory
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nearly three times greater. and while just four republican senators have acknowledged biden's victory, the rest of the world is moving on. >> i had and have a good relationship with the previous president. i am delighted to find the many areas in which the biden, the incoming biden-harris administration is able to make common cause with us. in particular, it was extremely exciting to talk to president-elect biden. >> reporter: and wolf, the president isn't just denying the reality that he's lost this election. he's also ignoring the reality of this coronavirus pandemic. for the last nine days we have seen new daily cases, over 100,000. and by any metric, whether it is cases or hospitalizations or deaths, we are facing one of the worst points of this pandemic to date. and yet while the white house coronavirus task force is warning states in private that they need to take serious steps to address this pandemic, we've seen no leadership and no action
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from this president. wolf? >> absolutely. thanks very much. stand by. i want to bring you back but i want to bring in bakari sellers into our conversation as well. he's a cnn political commentator, the author of the new book "my vanishing country," through see the cover, a memoir. bakari-a part from his visit to arlington national cemetery today on this veterans day, the president has not had a single public event in recent days. what's your response to his decision to spend his days trying to fight the results of the election, prevent a smooth transition, which is so important while the coronavirus pandemic is killing more and more americans every day, more than 1,400 just yesterday? >> well, i think that most of us wish that he would take advantage or take to task the latter, which is the coronavirus. and we know that this is going to be a dark winter with the rise of coronavirus cases and the uptick of the flu. and we're hoping that he would take this seriously. and we're hoping that he would empower his task force or others to take this seriously. i also wish that he would actually help create a smooth
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transition of power. something that is a staple to our american democracy. but one of the things, wolf, that both you and i know about this president is that he tramples on norms. he just disregards norms. and because conceding the election or the smooth transition of power are more norms than anything else, he just completely tramples on those things. so while we anticipate him going out and doing rallies or some other things during this time period, i think that he's starting to realize that the writing is on the wall and he has no chance to be president of the united states. i just wish he would do those things that his job entails him to do, like tackle the coronavirus because people are dying, and actually enable a smooth transition of power. >> outwardly president-elect biden appears unfazed by the president's antics as he moves forward with his transition and prepares to name his chief of staff as soon as tomorrow. you've been covering biden for years. take us behind the scenes a little bit, arlette. is the biden team as calm in the
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face of all these challenges as it appears at least in public? >> reporter: well, wolf, they are trying to adopt this similar tone from the president-elect who has really been trying to project both calm and patience. of course they would like to have access to these resource that's are currently unavailable to them but they have been making it clear that regardless they're putting their heads down and continuing on with the work. and this is something the biden transition team and his advisers have really been bracing for the possibility. they were not naive going into this process that there could be road blocks put up during this transition period. but what they've been trying to make clear is that they will continue to try to do the work to the best of their ability. you know, yesterday they announced their transition agency review teams. and while these teams don't have access to the agencies right away they're kind of trying to get around that by talking to
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experts and former officials who can help guide where these agencies currently stand. so they really are just pressing forward with their work. if things continue on like this for several more weeks, they could certainly take a more aggressive stance. but for the time being they are sticking to that message that they're simply continuing to pressing forward with their work. >> it would be so important if members of the white house coronavirus task force, for example, dr. fauci, dr. birx, dr. redfield, and others could actually start sitting down with members of the biden coronavirus advisory council and start plotting how to deal with this because thousands of americans are going to be dying in the next days and weeks. you know, jeremy, for most of his adult life, as all of us know, the president has shown a great affinity for television appearances, especially with friendly outlets. this week he's been silent. it's almost a week since he's been on television. the only thing we hear from him is when he tweets something.
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why is that? why aren't we seeing him? why isn't he speaking out publicly? >> yeah, wolf, today was the first time since last thursday that we have seen the president in public other than a couple of golf outings that the president did this past weekend. and part of the reason for that is it's not clear what the message would be that the president would deliver in public. we know the president has been active on twitter. and based on what i've heard from the conversations privately he's continuing to make clear that he doesn't want to concede this election. but that's also conflicting with the fact that there's this growing realization among the president's aides that this election is lost, it that joe biden will be the 46th president of the united states and that none of these legal efforts are really going to change that. and so the president for now is allowing these legal efforts to go forward, but there is going to have to come a time where we are going to have to see the president in public again. and the question then is what message does he deliver? aides have made very clear that they don't expect him to concede anytime soon. and really there's a question as
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to whether or not he will concede at all, perhaps an alternative that some aides have floated is that perhaps the president won't officially concede, he'll continue to dispute the election results but he will allow ultimately for a peaceful transition of power. >> peaceful transition. so important right now. you know, bakari, how long do you think the president can actually refuse to accept the results of the election, the fact that he lost the election to biden, while keeping support from republicans in congress? is there a point, for example, bakari, at which this is simply unsustainable? >> you know, i don't think so. i think in about three or four years when donald trump was first getting elected we thought his antics would prove to get to a point where there would be a breaking point with republicans. i think the last four years have shown us that that's not the case. you have pat toomey who is going into retirement who will just say the words president-elect. mitt romney will say those words. but many other people will not come out and say anything. but i don't think it really matters. you know, the president can be in his feelings. the president can cry many
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rivers, to quote justin timberlake. however, none of that really matters. you see joe biden pressing forward. if his first appointment of chief of staff is ron klain, then that's a solid appointment. that's going in the right direction. somebody who can tackle the coronavirus. somebody who can help usher in a new government. that means joe biden is doing the things necessary to be prepared to be president on day one. so it doesn't matter what this president does. the 46th president of the united states will be prepared on january 20th to take office. >> in the last hour i did speak to senator bernie sanders, who said he'd be open to a cabinet position in the biden administration, maybe as labor secretary. i thought that was newsy to hear that from senator bernie sanders. okay, guys, thank you very, very much. just ahead i'll speak with former cia director john brennan about president trump's refusal to acknowledge his election loss. what that means for american national security. through see director brennan. we'll discuss when we come back. and later, the coronavirus pandemic is setting awful
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president trump's refusal to concede an election he clearly lost is creating a dangerous precedent for american democracy and potentially damaging u.s. national security. joining us now, the former cia director john brennan. he's the auth r of the new book "undaunted: my fight against america's enemies at home and abroad." there you see the book cover. director brennan, thanks so much for joining us. did you ever think that here in the united states you'd see a presidential candidate lose the popular vote, already by more than 5 million votes, lose the
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electoral college, but still simply refuse to concede? >> no, i never thought i'd see it, wolf. i've watched these things happen overseas throughout the course of my intelligence and national security career. but clearly donald trump is refusing to accept reality, which is not shocking given what we've seen over the last four years. but again, this is something that as you pointed out can be very damaging to our national security because this period of transition from one administration to the other is critically important for our country but also it's when other countries are looking very closely at what we are doing here. >> because you make that point in your book "undaunted" that the cia kept both george w. bush and al gore informed with classified information in the aftermath of the 2000 election. you've actually been the man responsible for the president's daily brief. but biden is being denied access to that presidential daily brief, the pdb as it's called. how does that impact the country's national security during this sensitive time
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between the election and the inauguration on january 20th? >> well, clearly a lot of things going on in the world. and soon to be president biden needs to have as much familiarity with these issues as possible. and so the sooner he can access the president's daily brief, which is the intelligence community's daily product that they use to inform the president and the senior officials, the more prepared he's going to be to be able to confront these challenges. and there's absolutely no reason why donald trump would refuse to give joe biden access to that now. joe biden had access to it for eight years while he was vice president. he has the security clearances necessary. so why is he not doing it? it's clearly just that donald trump is feeling angry and embitered. >> since the election president trump has made sweeping changes, as you know. high-level positions over at the pentagon, the top civilian leadership. the cia and the fbi directors, they may be next for all we know. and some are raising serious concerns this could be laying the groundwork for the president
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to cling to power. do you believe those fears are overblown or are they founded, do they have credibility in your view? >> well, i don't believe he's going to be able to cling to power because his powers will expire at noon on inauguration day, january 20th. but i am very concerned about what he might do between now and then. and i must tell you, wolf, i'm more worried now because of what he might do. this embittered, angry, and potentially reckless presidential, what he might do in these next 70 days, i'm more worried now than i have been during the course of his administration because he is prone to these types of actions. and putting these people in at the senior ranks of the department of defense, people who are inexperienced, unqualified, and some of them are just partisan hacks, really sends a very disturbing signal to our troops, to military as well as to nations around the world. >> cnn has learned, director brennan, that president trump is frustrated with the cia director gina haspel because she believes -- because he believes
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she's delaying the release of classified documents, documents he wants to be released. she's concerned she needs to protect what are called sources and methods and releasing these classified documents would undermine those sources and methods, make that information, sensitive information available to u.s. adversaries like the russians for example. do you fear the president could compromise classified information, undermine national security in that way? >> absolutely. i think he has demonstrated over the last four years that he doesn't really care about sources and methods. he's called for the wholesale declassification of information in order to try to expose what he says is going to reveal his case that he's been making over the last four years holds water. i don't believe it does. but gina haspel is an intelligence professional. she will protect the integrity as well as the apolitical ethos of the cia. and i'm sure she is withstanding
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significant pressure from the white house. but good on her. and i think this is what the women and men of cia look to gina haspel for, which is leadership. >> how do you think adversaries, russia, china, iran, north korea are looking at this turmoil here in washington right now? >> i think our adversaries and our partners are looking at it with deep interest. i think our partners and allies are very concerned what this means as far as the u.s. government and our preparedness to deal with any crisis that might emerge around the globe. i think our adversaries are really looking at how this is now fracturing our government and our country in terms of divisiveness. and donald trump is a abnormal, aberrant individual in terms of who has come into the oval office. and so i think our adversaries now are wondering whether or not this is going to have reverberations they can take advantage of not just in these 70 days but also into the next administration. >> john brennan, the former cia
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director, thanks so much for joining us. once again let me put the book cover up on the screen. the author of the new book "undaunted: my fight against america's enemies at home and abroad." appreciate it very, very much. just ahead, the u.s. sets a single-day record for coronavirus cases as the death toll and hospitalizations are climbing and climbing. plus, the georgia secretary of state telling us just a little while ago that the recount he's ordered in his state likely won't, repeat won't change joe biden's lead.
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an urgent warning from the white house coronavirus task force tonight as the united states surpasses 240,000 covid deaths and sets another single-day record for new cases. cnn national correspondent athena jones is joining us from new york right now. athena, we're seeing an alarming rise in cases and hospitalizations and deaths. >> reporter: hi, wolf. that's right. with each passing day we're seeing more evidence of how out of control this virus is in the u.s. and now the white house coronavirus task force is warning states of spread that is accelerating with few signs of stabilizing and encouraging increased testing particularly to detect asymptomatic cases. >> i'm just terrified. we are entering a very dark phase in this pandemic. >> reporter: america setting records no country wants to set.
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reporting 136,000 new coronavirus cases tuesday. the most in a single day since the pandemic began. infections on the rise in 45 states. up at least 50% in 15 states week over week with more than 1,400 deaths reported tuesday. >> 1,400 americans dying of covid a day is like three or four planeloads full of americans crashing and dying. this is unsustainable. >> reporter: nearly 62,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 in the u.s. more than ever. oklahoma reporting only 6% capacity in its intensive care units. just 9% of icu beds are available in tennessee. massachusetts and illinois governors also concerned. >> our biggest concern of course is the hospitals. risk getting overwhelmed. >> across the state the majority of our regions are seeing far higher rates of hospitalizations for covid-19 than they ever did last spring. >> reporter: while every part of the country is seeing explosive
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growth in cases, the midwest is outpacing the rest. in illinois, one of five states that set a record for new cases tuesday, lines for testing stretched for blocks. the governor announcing a travel advisory to try to slow the spread. this as new restrictions on social gatherings are set to take effect friday in minnesota and wisconsin's governor issues new stay-at-home rules. >> it's not safe to go out. it's not safe to have others over. it's just not safe. and it might not be safe for a while yet. so please, please cancel the happy hours, the dinner parties, the sleepovers, the play dates at your home. >> reporter: nevada's governor is asking people to commit to staying home voluntarily for the next two weeks. >> do not have people outside of your household over for dinners, parties, or other gatherings. if we don't come together at this moment, i will be forced to take stronger action in 14 days. >> reporter: the new restrictions coming as the cdc issues new guidance on masks,
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saying they reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70%. the agency saying a 15% increase in universal mask wearing could prevent the need for more lockdowns and save the economy up to a trillion dollars. >> wearing a mask, if all of us do it, can save tens of thousands of lives in the u.s. >> reporter: and with covid cases surging in every corner of the country, health officials and state leaders are urging americans to plan for very different holiday celebrations this year. suggesting they forgo thanksgiving gatherings, particularly indoors, with people outside your household. we know that get-togethers with family and friends are a significant source of community spread. and starting friday here in new york indoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to ten people. wolf? >> all right, athena, thank you. athena jones reporting. let's get some more on all of this. joining us dr. richard besser the former acting director at the centers for disease control and prevention. dr. besser, thank you so much for joining us.
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unfortunately, it seems like every time you and i talk the country is in worse shape as far as the virus is concerned. listen to this. in just the first ten days of november more than a million -- let me repeat that. more than a million americans have been infected with the virus. and that's before anyone starts getting together for the upcoming holidays. this is the equivalent of a five-alarm fire in the u.s. that all of us are facing right now, isn't it? >> i mean, this is a very dangerous situation, wolf. the idea that that many people have gotten sick this month and that the numbers are going to increase and what we're seeing at the highest levels of government is basically tossing it in, putting their hands up, we give up on this. there are steps that can be taken, and it's good to see in your reporting how many states are stepping up and mandating masks, telling people that it works. you know, the information that came out from cdc today about mask wearing is critically important. up until now the research has
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been saying that masks will help protect other people from you if you happen to be infected and not know it. what cdc is saying today is that the mask will also protect you from others. and that's really big. it's hard to motivate people in terms of protecting other people. but in terms of yourselves, getting your loved ones, your children, your parents to wear masks, this could be huge. >> it's so, so significant. new york state right now is setting new health measures to reduce transmission including limiting indoor gatherings. as you heard in athena's report, to ten people. do you expect to see more and more of this as these cases are surging? >> i do. you know, but if people wear masks, then we're going to be able to avoid the broad, you know -- the total shutdowns that we saw in the spring. what we're seeing in states is that they're looking at the data. they're seeing that bars are a risk, that gyms are a risk, that indoor dining is a risk, and so they're looking at limiting that behavior. but what we do will matter and
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it will matter in terms of how many people get sick and it will matter in terms of what kind of severity states and localities need to take. but wolf, if congress doesn't step up and pass legislation and put money in people's pockets and put forward further bans on evictions and foreclosures, as we hit january and those expire we're going to see millions of people becoming homeless at a time when this pandemic is just rampant. and we can't allow that to happen. >> yeah. i would be grateful if congress would do it. it doesn't look like they're in this lame duck session, they're going to do much at all unless there's some major national leadership, which i don't see either unfolding. dr. fauci pointed out yesterday, dr. besser, that even though it seems there's some potentially very, very good news on the horizon as far as the vaccine is concerned, therapeutics are concerned, this is definitely not the time for people to become less vigilant when it comes to social distancing and mask wearing. even though covid fatigue is
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clearly a very real thing that's going on right now. how do you convince the people out there that you know what, we're going to be wearing masks not just for the next few weeks or months but maybe even for much of next year? >> we need to be hearing that from our public health leaders and we need to be hearing it from our political leaders. we are hearing those messages from president-elect biden and his team. i would love to hear that from those in the white house currently because i really worry that the exciting news about a potential vaccine, that again, the data need to be verified by independent scientists, but if it pans out i worry that people will think that's going to change the trajectory of this winter. it won't. wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, investigating cases and providing safe places for people to isolate and quarantine, that's what's going to make a difference this winter. vaccines hopefully will be here for the spring, for the summer, but not until then. >> how important would it be,
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dr. besser? i think it would be very important. let me get your thoughts. for the white house coronavirus task force experts, dr. fauci, dr. birx, dr. redfield and the others, to start sitting down with the biden -- incoming biden administration experts like dr. vivek murthy and the others to sit down and start working together to come up with a national plan? >> it's critically important. it's critically important across government that this kind of transition's taking place. but you really want to see that in the health sector so that there's a seamless transition. so that the messaging that will be going forward starting in the end of january begins to take place now. you need to have that kind of access so that the leadership of agencies, their civil servants, they know the direction things are going to be going and those coming in understand the situation they're going to be inheriting. >> yeah. so, so important. they've got to work together during this transition from the outgoing administration to the
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incoming administration because lives are at stake. dr. besser, thank you so much for everything you're doing. we're grateful to you. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead, georgia, the state of georgia orders a hand recount of election ballots but the secretary of state there just told us, and he's a republican, he doesn't think it will help president trump. plus, the growing concern inside the pentagon right now over the president's purge of top leaders. we'll be right back. (gong rings) - this is joe. (combative yelling) he used to have bad breath. now, he uses a capful of therabreath fresh breath oral rinse to keep his breath smelling great, all day long. (combative yelling) therabreath, it's a better mouthwash. at walmart, target and other fine stores.
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more than a week after election day votes are still being counted all across the country. let's go to our senior political analyst mark preston for an update. mark, it looks like joe biden's popular vote lead nationally is growing larger and larger by the hour. >> it certainly is, wolf. at this hour joe biden has received more than 77 million votes across the country. this is record-breaking. he has received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history. with that he holds a 5 million-vote lead when you look at the aggregate across the country. but you know, wolf, they are still counting votes in certain states. and let's go down to those states. let's look at georgia right now. joe biden maintains a steady lead over donald trump by a little more than 14,000 votes. now, the secretary of state, as you had him on earlier, has ordered a hand recount. that hand recount should be done by november 20th. now, if that doesn't work in favor of donald trump's campaign, donald trump's campaign is able to ask for
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another count, which would be a scan count, if it is less than .5%. let's move on, though, to arizona, another state right now. joe biden has a lead by nearly 13,000 votes in the state of arizona. 46,000 ballots still need to be counted in that state. you know, wolf, for a recount to happen in arizona it has to be less than 1/10 of a percentage point and it doesn't look like arizona would go to a runoff. but again, 46,000 votes still to be counted. and look at these numbers in pennsylvania as we hear so much talk about lawsuits in pennsylvania. joe biden has more than 51,000-vote lead over donald trump in the state of pennsylvania. that's because philadelphia county and allegheny county both dropped votes in earlier today. 98% of the votes are in the state of pennsylvania. but we should note the commonwealth of pennsylvania joe biden has won the presidency because of pennsylvania, wolf. >> 20 electoral votes in pennsylvania. he won michigan and wisconsin, recreated that so-called blue
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wall that hillary clinton lost four years ago. as you mentioned, mark, i spoke in the last hour with the georgia secretary of state, a republican, and he says there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in georgia. as you also know, there are two key senate races in georgia that are still in limbo. runoff elections in early january. he wi tell us more about that. >> just to reinforce what the secretary of state said, the lieutenant governor as well, a republican, has said he hasn't seen any voter dpraud. these two races could decide who controls the united states senate and who controls the united states senate is going to be the person who controls the biden agenda in some ways. david period yue and jon ossoff are locked in a tight race now. while david perdue has an 86-vote lead over jon ossoff, he wasn't able to get to 50%, which is required by state law. that will go to a runoff on january 5th, it looks like. in addition to that this other race, raphael warnock, the reverend of the ebenezer baptist church, is running against senator kelly loeffler to fill johnny isaacson's term.
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this race we saw marco rubio campaigning on behalf of kelly loeffler and we've seen our own andrew yang who's contributed here, presidential candidate, he's already said he's moving to georgia. expect georgia to be the hot place to be if you're in politics in the next month or so. six weeks. >> we'll watch it closely and cover it on january 5th. all right, mark, thank you very much just ahead officials in the pentagon alarmed by the purge of senior leaders. more changes on the way. we'll be right back. for over 30 years, lexus has been celebrating driveway moments. here's to one more. the lexus december to remember sales event. experience amazing at your lexus dealer. try optum perks. it's a new way to save up to 80%. and everyone can do it. it's from optum, a health care company that's trusted by millions of people. you don't have to sign up for anything. just go to
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top officials inside the pentagon are growing increasingly alarmed as president trump pushing senior leaders while installing loyalists. barbara starr is working the story for us. >> reporter: president trump paying a visit to the tomb of the unknown soldier to mark veteran's day as questions swirl about how his relationship with the pentagon could change over the next 70 days. since joe biden was projected to win the presidency on saturday, president trump has installed his own loyalists at the top levels of the defense department, the move leading to rising anxiety at the pentagon about what still may come next after years of the military trying to stay out of trump world. >> the president has consistently referred to my generals and treated the
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military as if it was an institution that was personally loyal to him and his political needs as opposed to loyal to the constitution. >> the former director of national intelligence says it's all a security risk. >> when you have the turnover and the purging and the installation of the network of essentially political commissaries, this is a real distraction from the nerve center of our national defense. >> some pentagon officials privately worry trump could even be thinking about replacing top military officers. general mark milley, chairman of the joint chiefs, is confirmed by the senate to a term that ends in 2023, which keeps him in office as president-elect biden's military adviser. even before the election, milley as adamant that the military would continue to stay out of politics. >> thank you, mr. president. >> reporter: as chairman milley serves at the pleasure of the president, but the two men have
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clashed. >> i'm not saying the military's in love with me. the soldiers are. the top people in the pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy. >> reporter: milley was furious even at the suggestion of warmongering and called chief of staff mark meadows. and when trump had milley join the political theater of the june walk outside the white house during protests, the chairman publicly apologized. >> i should not have been there. my presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. >> reporter: clashes between the president and the pentagon include opposing trump's threat to put active duty forces on the streets against protesters last june. trump forcing the retirement of lieutenant colonel alexander vindman after he testified before congress in trump's impeachment inquiry. multiple sources telling "the
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atlantic" magazine president trump called americans who lost their lives in battle, quote, losers and suckers. and still unresolved, the pentagon's decision to rename military bases now named after confederate commanders. >> that was barbara starr. we'll be right back.
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sadly so many veterans have passed away from the virus including beverly weaver of texas. she was 66 years old.
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she was a u.s. army veteran and nurse for 46 years who was still working full-time when she died. michael vincent of new york was 72. he was a veteran of the u.s. navy and a retired plumber. michael loved painting and playing chess. may they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing. "erin burnett outfront" starts "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- "outfront" next, president-elect biden about to make an afouns hadment about his administration. the president is putting his country last. and more breaking news this hour, cnn learning the state department is learning the state department is preventing president-elect biden to receive information. plus political leaders congratulating joe biden on his victory. i'm going to talk to him about why others are silent. let's go


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