tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 14, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
coverage of the california elections. you can tweet the show at @theleadcnn. also available as a podcast. for now our coverage continues with one mr. wolf blitzer right next door in "the situation room." i will see you later tonight. happening now breaking news. stunning new revelations about the top u.s. general's secret action to limit then president trump's ability to launch nuclear weapon. the new book detailing high-level fears that trump was going rogue after the january 6th insurrection. also tonight, californians are in the final hours of voting, deciding whether to fire democratic governor gavin newsom. president biden lending support. and a gop challenger borrows
from the ex-president's play book. and a cnn investigation of trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election. the calls, the texts, the voice mails and more. plus, how his lies are still threatening the nation. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get straight to the breaking news we're following. truly stunning new revelations of very deep concern at the highest levels inside the pentagon over former president trump and his erratic behavior during his final weeks in office. they come in a new book by journalist bob woodward and rob costa who say the general took unprecedented action to limit trump's ability to order a military strike.
cnn special correspondent is joining us now. she has details of what was going on. jaime, the joint chiefs chairman, general millie, he was very concerned. he wanted to safe guard the nation's nuclear arsenal. he wanted to safe guard the military from what he feared would be trump's actions. >> correct. these were precautions that the chairman of the joint chiefs would take. to set the stage, it is january 8th. it is two days after the assault on the capital. he is worried. woodward and costa write that millie believe that trump was unstable, unpredictable and millie believed he was in serious mental decline. nancy pelosi calls him, we know, on january 8th, the speaker of the house. she calls him and she is also worried about the new clear weapons. so in the book, woodward and costa have an exclusive transcript of that phone call.
and let me just read to you. pelosi says to millie, this situation of this unhinged president could not be more dangerous. millie reassuring her, i can guarantee you that you can take it to the bank that the new clear triggers are secure and we're not going to allow anything crazy, illegal, immoral or unethical to happen. pelosi says, and how are you going to do that? going to take the football away from him or whatever it is. she's third in line of succession. she knows what the football is. milley gets off the call and he's worried. he knows that from intelligence china has been on edge about trump. he saw what happened at the capital, and he thinks to himself, pelosi is right, according to woodward and costa, and he decides to take an extraordinary action. and woodward and costa write
that general milley calls an extraordinary meeting. he brings together the generals and officials from the pentagon's war room. he calls them in and he underscores that they must follow the process. they must follow the procedure. and they write milley said, quote, if you get calls, no matter who they're from, there is a process here. there is a procedure. no matter what you are told, you do the procedure. you do the process. and i'm part of that procedure. it is unusual as the chairman of the joint chiefs, he is not technically in command. but because of his authority, his respect and because he was so concerned that president trump might do something unpredictable, something
dangerous, he was making sure every precaution was in place. >> the book, and you have a copy of it right there, jaime, the book also details a rather heated conversation that trump had with the then defense secretary mark esper. >> right. this book is called "peril." woodward's last book was called "rage." i would tell you this could be called "rage 2.0." there are so many temper tantrums where he is yelling and screaming at top officials and cabinet members. this is one where right after those protests in lafayette park you may remember then defense secretary mark esper comes out and he says makes a -- has a press conference and says there shouldn't be any -- there is no reason for an insurrection act. and then he meets with trump. and according to woodward and costa, trump goes -- just starts
yelling. and trump says in the book, quote, who do you think you are? you took away my authorities. you are not the president. i'm the goddamn president. and after that, he's not only shouting at esper. he turns to everyone in the oval office, the rest of the team, and we'll try to keep the language clear here, but trump says, according to the book, quote, you're all f'ed up, everybody. you're all f'ed. every one of you is f'ed up. there are so many outbursts like this throughout the book that you understand how in the lead-up to when you get to january 8th and milley's actions and the assault on the capital, cabinet officers were concerned. >> really, really concerned. can't wait to read it. excellent reporting as usual. thank you so, so much.
let's get to the california recall right now as the clock ticks toward the first results. some republicans are relying on the trump play book. our senior national correspondent is out in sacramento for us. not a single vote has been reported yet, but the republicans already are planting seeds of doubt when it comes to election integrity. update our viewers. give us the latest. >> reporter: those republicans are donald trump himself and then the leading republican challenger here to gavin newsom, larry elder. he has been in these final notes of the recall election been talking about baseless election fraud theories. he's been throwing it out there saying that he's posted a website where people can report things, that he's hiring lawyers. i want you to take a listen to what he said just a short time ago. >> so many people will vote yes on the recall, there won't be any question about the outcome. i hope my opponent is willing to accept the results when he
loses. i have every hope this election will be free of fraud and it's going to be one of integrity. >> i want to point out, wolf, that not a single vote has been counted yet. the actual vote count does not take place until after all the polls close here at 8:00 p.m. pacific time. those ballots are sorted but they're not actually counted until that time. the gavin newsom camp says they're ready to respond and trying to connect eld tore the larger republican party saying this will be the coming attraction for 2022 and 2024 in other contested races and noncontested races across the country. where it stands right now, there are -- i mentioned they haven't been counted yet. ballots still are being counted as they're coming in, the actual numbers of them. 9.1 million ballots have been cast so far. 52% by democrats. 26% by republicans. the newsom campaign says that is
in part because they have been so successful in getting democrats engaged on that national message, wolf. >> all right. we'll see what happens later tonight. thank you very much. meanwhile, the secretary of state, antony blinken was back in the hot seat today facing bipartisan criticism from lawmakers as he defended the chaotic u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. cnn national correspondent has details. >> reporter: secretary of state tony blinken back in front of congress for a second grilling. this time in person, defending the administration's response to the collapse of the afghan government. >> in the military, placed on standby by president biden, was able to secure the airport and start the evacuation within 72 hours. and, yes, that evacuation was an extraordinary effort under the most difficult conditions imaginable. >> reporter: while blinken faced bipartisan criticism for the withdrawal -- >> information from state, the
pentagon and the white house has often been vague or contradictory. this was obviously a fluid and difficult situation. frustration was high and this has to improve. >> reporter: the hearing on the end of america's longest war became a partisan battle. >> the administration is paying itself on the back is like an arsist taking credit for saving people from the burning buildings he just set on fire. >> the lack of accountability in this administration is shocking to me. >> i want to know where that outrage was during the negotiations by the trump administration and former secretary mike pompeo when they were giving away the rights of women and girls. >> reporter: several lawmakers focussed in on the failure of u.s. intelligence to anticipate the possibility of the taliban taking over the country in just 11 days. >> we have the wrong people analyzing this. someone didn't see this. either someone didn't see this or someone didn't want to see this. >> you're right that we need to look back at all of this
because, to your point, we collectively over 20 years invested extraordinary amounts in those security forces and in that government. >> reporter: when it comes to the way forward, blinken says the administration is keenly focussed on 100 u.s. citizens that remain in afghanistan, prioritizing them above thousands of u.s. green cardholders who are still there. >> the terms of legal permanent residents, is your priority just as high to get them out as it is to get out citizens, or is there a different level of commitment for a legal permanent residence return to the united states relative to a citizen? >> senator, our number one priority is american citizens, and that has long been the case in this situation. >> reporter: given the wide ranging questions about the withdrawal, many of which remain, the top democrat on the committee also voiced frustration that defense secretary lloyd austin had not accepted his request to testify alongside blinken. >> i may consider the use of
committee subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last 20 years to testify. >> reporter: now, we should note that secretary austin had already agreed to testify before another committee on the hill later this month on afghanistan, which may be one of the reasons that he didn't come to the hearing today. one of the other things that secretary blinken got asked about was that recent u.s. drone strike that the u.s. military said killed an isis-k operative. they there are now questions about that game given investigations by news outlets including cnn. blinken was asked if that killed an isis-k operative or an aid worker. he said he didn't know. he doubled down and said the reason he doesn't know is because there is an investigation into that that is ongoing. >> thank you very much. just ahead, we're getting new details on donald trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election. >> hello, francis. how are you?
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right now about the ways trump and his supporters have actually threatened american democracy. trump not only insisted he won the election, he lies. his lies made millions and millions of americans doubt the u.s. election system. he relentlessly pressured local election officials and the department of justice to help reverse the results of the election. and when that didn't work, his supporters turned to changing voting laws across the country. to understand how dangerous this is for our democracy, you have to take a closer look at the entire scope of the actions by trump, his inner circle and republican politicians who are clinging to his lies. and it started on election day, and it's still going on right now. cnn's senior investigative correspondent drew griffin joins us with an in depth look. >> reporter: cnn spoke to more than a dozen state and election officials involved in elections for this special report, many of them republicans who all
expressed concerns about the future of the united states, that donald trump's big lie could change this nation forever. donald trump's attempt to subvert the election started long before anyone voted. >> we're not going to lose this, except if they cheat. >> reporter: continued on election night. >> we want all voting to stop. we fight like hell. >> reporter: as disgraceful as trump's public words were, behind the scenes, trump and his inner circle were using all the powers of the presidential office to cheat, not to stop the steal, but to start it. >> reporter: it was an attempt to undermine the will of the people. it was profoundly anti-democratic and potentially criminal. the 45th president of the united states tried to coerce the department of justice to lie on his behalf while also strong arming state and local election officials to overthrow the election. >> there is no question that our democracy is at a breaking point. >> reporter: in the weeks
following the election, trump and his inner circle would wage a high-pressure campaign. >> hello, francis. how are you? >> hello, brad and ryan and everybody. >> bill, it is rudy giuliani. >> reporter: at least 30 contacts between trump and republican officials in crucial states: georgia, michigan, pennsylvania and arizona. >> this is the white house operator. >> i was out to dinner with friends, and a phone call came in from washington, d.c. of a number i did not recognize. >> reporter: clint, a trump supporter who was the chair of the arizona board of supervisors couldn't believe it. >> i was calling to let you know that the president is available to take your call if you're free. >> reporter: he let the call go to voice mail. days later, the white house operator called back. hickman again refused to pick it up. >> obviously i thought it was going to be something to do about election and operations, and i was not prepared to talk about that. the governor of arizona had
already certified it. the attorney general of arizona and the secretary of state had certified it. >> reporter: records now reveal dozens of text messages and multiple phone calls from the white house, from rudy giuliani and also the head of arizona's republican party. >> i just talked to president trump, and he -- he would like me to talk to you. >> reporter: trying to put pressure on the maricopa republican supervisors to intervene in a free and fair election that joe biden won. supervisor bill gates believes it was an attack on the constitution. >> i saw a voice mail popped up. it was unbelievable to hear. instantly i knew who it was. rudy giuliani, america's mayor. >> it is president trump's lawyer. i have a few things i would like to talk over with you. maybe we could get this thing fixed up. >> reporter: he just received this subpoena, demanding election officials hand over millions of ballots to state
republican politicians who were launching fraud investigations. >> he wanted us to turn over the ballots as soon as possible so the state senate could get to work. >> get to work doing? >> one of the objectionives was to get their hands on the ballot before the january 6th hearing in the capital. they wanted evidence to support desertfying the election. >> reporter: it's constitution be damned really. >> right. one of the main reasons i became a republican in the 1980s was i thought the republican party was the party of the rule of law. the party of the constitution. >> reporter: in michigan, a wane county republican official voted to certify the election, then changed her mind after a call from donald trump. >> i have provided them with a copy of my affidavit rescinding my vote. >> reporter: in georgia trump not only called the state's top elections investigator, but in
what now is being investigated as a possible crime, trump tried to convince georgia's secretary of state to change the vote count. >> and there is nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you have recalculated. >> it seems clearer and clearer that trump was actually trying to steal the election. he was actually trying to create conditions where he would be declared the winner even though he actually lost the election. it is incredibly dangerous and destabilizing. >> reporter: perhaps most dangerous of all, president trump even tried to use the united states department of justice to pull off his attempted coup. in the notes of a december 27 phone call now handed over to congressional investigators, trump told his acting attorney general jeffrey rosen and his deputy richard donahue just say that the election was corrupt, leave the rest to me and the congressman. both men refused trump's request and both testified before the
senate judiciary committee chaired by senator dick durbin. >> what was the most shocking to you? >> how directly the president was involved, the pressure he was putting on jeffrey rosen. it was real, very real and very specific. >> reporter: trump tried to pressure rosen to file a lawsuit in the supreme court to declare that the votes cast cannot be counted. his chief of staff was re repeatedly e-mails top officials asking they investigate conspiracy theories about voter fraud. >> it is an attempt to use the department of justice in order to influence the election that's run at the state and local level. so it is dangerous. it's inappropriate and it should be unacceptable. >> and trump had been secretly working with someone inside the department of justice. an official from the environmental division named jeffrey clark who was pushing allegations of voter fraud,
despite all the evidence against it. clark urged his bosses to sign a better to georgia's governor containing a lie. it falsely claimed the justice department identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election and advised the governor to convene in special session. acting attorney general rosen and the deputy ag donahue said no. it was the violence of the insurrection on january 6th that finally ended trump's plans to prevent the certification of joe biden as president. yet, with no proof, with no facts, with no evidence at all that fraud played any role in his defeat, trump has convinced his base of support that the electoral system of the united states is corrupt. former republican new jersey governor christine todd whitman who started a group to safe guard u.s. democracy, says this
is a threat to the country. >> abraham lincoln said if this government falls, it will fall from within, and we have to remember those things because it can. it could happen. >> reporter: wolf, one thing that bill gates, the maricopa supervisor told me, that if it weren't for republicans willing to risk their careers to stand up for what's right, there may have been a different outcome. some of those election officials are dealing with threats to their very lives. >> standby. our in depth look at the assault on democracy will continue. that's next. just fit your bath,sn't it fits your high standards. why have over two million people welcomed bath fitter into their homes? it just fits. call now or visit bathfitter.com to book your free consultation.
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more now on the assault on democracy being fueled by former president trump's continued lies about a rigged election. let's discuss with the host of cnn's smer connish. how bill barr broke the prosecutor's code and corrupted the justice department. michael, when you see all of this come together, it becomes much more clear just how much at risk our democracy really was and actually continues to be, doesn't it? >> you're right. when i watch drew's report, i have two reactions, the first of which is to say that when you look at the full report instead of the component parts, some of which we have heard before, i think it becomes pretty compelling of there having been an or whichor which he is trags.
the second thought i have, wolf, is there is a quote from a matthew masterson in that lengthy piece. read it online. department of homeland security official who speaks about the exodus of local officials. this is the same concern that i have about school boards in the midst of the pandemic, that there are people out there providing a public or community service. they're working for very little wages. here to for they have been faceless, nameless and all of a sudden you listen to those voice mails, they are subject to such vitreal and hatred and death threats, it makes me worry there will be further exodus from those jobs and that partisans will fill them. so this is not something at a macro level. this is not just former president trump and members of congress. no. we need to be concerned in each of our respective communities about the fall-out from this. >> and it wasn't just the former president peddling
unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. there was one high ranking official within the justice department who was supposed to try to prevent this kind of thing from even happening, right? >> exactly, wolf. one of those high ranking officials, jeffrey clark, he's a real villain in this story. he was donald trump's tool in the justice department. what jeffrey clark did is the exact opposite of what the justice department ought to be about, which is truth, integrity and independence. he tried to get the justice department to send out a fraudulent letter saying we have identified significant concerns that impact the outcome of the election. that's a lie. that's a fraud. there is no evidence for that. now, thankfully other officials at doj refuse to go along. but if jeffrey clark had gotten his way, it would have turned things ugly and thrown us into absolute chaos. >> you are absolutely right. michael, trump convinced his supporters that voter fraud
remains a threat to this country. are republicans in power doing enough right now to make sure the wounds he has inflicted are healed? >> well, hell no. absolutely not they haven't. and they're afraid to step out on this issue. i think the vast majority of them, the office holders know that these charges of a theft are bogus. but they're scared to death of the base where your membership in the party demands feelty to the former president. >> to our viewers be sure to join michael for his show every saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. eastern only here on cnn. across the country, election officials have been threatened and harassed just for doing their jobs because of donald trump's lies. >> you rigged my [ bleep ] election, you piece of [ bleep ]. we're going to try you, and we're going to hang you.
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one of the dangerous consequences of donald trump's big lie is that tens of millions of americans mistakenly believe trump actually won the 2020 election. some of them are threatening violence against election officials for just doing their jobs. let's bring back drew griffin. drew? >> there are two things happening all across the country, wolf, and at an alarming rate. both are dangerous to democracy, threats against election officials, which are causing some to quit. and laws in more than a dozen states that change the rules on voting. we have to warn you some of the language you are about to hear is very graphic. in milwaukee, claire has been bombarded by hate ever since an extremist right wing website gateway pundit published lies about her. >> you rigged my [ bleep ]
election, you [ bleep ] piece of [ bleep ]. we're going to find you and we're going to hang you. >> i really sincerely hope you get what's coming to you, you fraudulent [ bleep ]. >> what was your immediate reaction to what was on that machine? >> there are crazy people out there and while it might just be them blowing off steam, i think it is clear that they believe it. i think only someone who truly believed it would act on it. >> how many threats do you think you have gotten? >> i think over 150. >> 150 threats? >> yes. i received a letter very colorful language to my home which did make me very frightened in that i had a three-month-old and a four-year-old to think about and all because i did my job and made sure that all of the city of milwaukee's ballots were counted. >> what did that letter say? >> am i allowed to tell you the swear words? >> sure. >> it says you are a fraudulent
[ bleep ]. a lot of the e-mails called me a [ bleep ], a bitch, a whore. the common thread is no one has any respect for women in the world. >> it's happening all across the country. republican bill gates and his fellow county supervisors face their own threats every single day. >> just last friday, my colleagues and i all were treated to an orange jump suit that a gentleman sent to us and declared that we will end up in jail some day because we are traitors in the minds of these people. >> this could lead to a damaging loss of experienced professionals who know how to conduct elections. a report from the brennan center for justice found one in three election officials feel unsafe because of their job. matt masterson was the lead cyber security adviser for the department of homeland security in the 2020 election and says it's all creating an alarming situation. >> local election officials are
gonna leave and then that opens the door to adding less professional, more political actors into the election space which, again, is even credibly dangerous. >> she's staying, but she closed the election's office until she can beef up security. >> so it made me really concerned how powerful conspiracy theories have become that my job would become dangerous, that election administrators now in our very well established democracy has lots of checks and balances is now a dangerous profession. >> the danger isn't just the obvious threat of violence, but the threat to democracy. experts say donald trump and his republican allies have injected enough doubt into the election process to threaten its stability. >> it's going to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. he is undermining the system in a way that is going to cause the system to deteriorate. >> some republicans are also undermining the system with new
unnecessary legislation. across the united states, republican state lawmakers are passing law after law aimed at fixing a problem that does not exist. mass voter fraud. >> this bill, i'll say it one more time, will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in pennsylvania. >> easy to vote and hard to cheat. >> in arizona, we want to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat. >> at least 18 states have enacted 31 laws with new restrictions on voting methods since the beginning of the year. the most concerning are being called election subversion laws, impacting how elections are run and who is in charge. >> they didn't like the fact that they lost those states, and so now they're rewriting the rules for the future. but they're doing it in a way that will make it extremely problematic because they make it very partisan. >> former new jersey governor, a republican, is part of a group
working to safe guard u.s. democracy. >> what you have with local officials, secretaries of states and others are people who are trained to over see elections. that's their job to do that. now what you see in these states like texas, arizona, georgia is they're starting to pull that back and put it in the hands of the legislatures, the political legis legislatures. >> georgia's election integrity act of 2021, 98 pages long. it was signed into law in march by governor brian kemp repeating that republican mantra. >> this bill makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat. >> among its provisions, it strips power from the georgia secretary of state and allows lawmakers to intervene in how counties administer and count the vote. >> sounds like it makes it easier for the politicians to cheat. >> you could have that perception. you are going to have your id with you. >> the elections supervisor. >> i believe it is a massive power grab. the secretary of state has been
removed as a voting member of the state election board. >> basically tossing the secretary of state aside for a political person. >> exactly. >> in arizona, republican legislatures have made their power grab blatant, passing a law that strips some election oversight powers from the arizona secretary of state currently a democrat and gives them to the arizona attorney general, currently a republican. it expires in less than two years, making sure it's a republican who oversees any disputes in the important mid-term elections. gates says his party's big lie about vote fraud is getting way out of hand. >> i'm worried about the people who look at this now. they have listened to their leaders, their republican leaders, and they're now convinced that our system is corrupt, that there is this large conspiracy. and we have yet to see many republicans speak out and tell people no, the election was fire. it's time to move on. enough is enough.
>> in texas, which trump won, republican legislatures passed a law that bans drive through and 24-hour voting favored in heavily minority houston and creates new hurdles for mail-in voters. the texas legislation also makes it a crime for election workers to interfere with partisan poll watchers. >> we're at a tipping point as a nation in our democracy is at stake. >> democratic legislatures fled the state trying to prevent a vote on the bill. the stand-off ended after 38 days. >> it matters because we've got a long history of cherry picking who can vote and who cannot vote. >> if all these election laws being surfaced in republican-led states seem like a coordinated effort, that's because it is. >> we have honed in on these eight specific focus states. >> a former trump administration official who now heads up the conservative heritage action for
america said the group had made recommendations to several states which ended up in election related bills. >> from there, as we create this ecochamber, we're working with state legislatures to make sure they have all the legislation they need to draft the bills. we have a sentinel in our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grass roots from the bottom up type of vibe. >> donald trump's big lie and his party's willingness to go along with the facade is now the threat to free and fair elections we face. >> it used to be unthinkable to contemplate election subversion in the united states. it's now become something that we need to spend the next few years guarding against. it is the greatest danger facing american democracy today. >> it's dangerous, wolf, because it is destabilizing, according to all the election officials and experts we talked to. a democracy depends on the losers agreeing that the
election was conducted in a fair way and agreeing to fight another day. if you don't have that acceptance, you really don't have a democracy. right now with donald trump and his followers, we do not have that. wolf? >> cnn's drew griffin with truly excellent, excellent reporting. coming up, countering the assault on democracy. we will talk about what's being done and what should be done with the former attorney general of the united states. we will discuss when we come back. hey google. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ hey neal, with 3% cash back at drugstores
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the growing concern their undermining american democracy. let's discuss that and more with the former attorney general of the united states eric holder. he's the sharchairman of the redistricting committee. thank you so much for joining us. voter fraud claims, voting restrictions, one election expert told cnn's drew griffin you just heard that this trend is the greatest danger facing american da emocracy today. do you agree? >> yeah, i do. i think the things that you're seeing around the country with regard to voter suppression is really subverting our democracy. the fight that we have now as americans is not really over a particular issue. we can talk about infrastructure and how big a bill should be. that's not really the primary thing we should be concerned about. our democracy is at stake. republicans have made a determination that they want to hold on to power and do everything they can to hold on to power if it means subverting our democracy and making us a
less democratic nation, they're okay with that. you see this being repeated in state after state with the package of these bills in state after state, something we need to recognize and we all need to fight. >> the refrain from republicans that you heard is that these new voting laws make it quote easy to vote but hard to cheat. what impact do you think these laws that are now in place in places like georgia will have on voters, particularly voters of color? >> they will have a disproportionately negative impact on people of color. people need to understand they want to make it more difficult for people that are not like minded voters. so if you live in the suburbs, if you are a young person, you're targeted, as well. they're coming from your vote, as well. you know, the measures that they have put in place are nakedly partisan. you know, they talk about not allowing people in texas for instance to vote on the 24-hour
basis when it was done in the past election without any indication of fraud. they want to make it more difficult to use mail to cast vote and drop off your vote at the ballot boxes. all of these are decybesigned t keep people away from the polls and make it more difficult for people to vote in the face of in indication there is any wide spread voter fraud. the ben -- brennan center said you're more likely to be hit by lightning than fraud lenant voting. >> so many republicans are building on president trump's big lie. politicians cry foul in feature elections, how worried, are you, attorney general about laws trans transferring power away from election officials and putting that power into the hands of partisan lawmakers? >> that is really one of the most frightening parts of these laws. this notion that you take these
career really people who we really didn't know, career people who are just trying to do a good job. they are republicans. they are democrats. they are progressives. they want to get the job done, these election officials replacing them and those important jobs with people who have political agendas. really is something that will undermine confidence that we have in elections. in addition, these political people might take steps to reverse the will of the people. i really wonder if we had these laws in effect and if we had these political people in charge in a variety of states around the country with the challenges the trump campaign tried to raise would we have seen the same result in georgia? would we have seen the same result in arizona? that should be something we are all concerned about. >> yeah, certainly concerning, indeed. democratic senator joe mansion in west virginia is co-sponsoring a revised voting rights bill called the freedom to vote act.
does this -- do you believe does this still go far enough in your view, doesn't this still come up against potentially the filibuster, which would require 60 votes in the senate? >> yeah, i think the freedom to vote act is a good piece of legislation. it deals partisan jerrgerrymandering. so it's a really good piece of legislation. i think that ultimately, it will come down to is the senate ready to discard this senate procedure, the filibuster? i think the determination that senators have to make, democratic senators have to make is do you want to stand on the side of democracy or stand on the side of a senate procedure that has been used in the past to frustrate civil rights legislation? we're now considering in this new act that senator mansion has introduced is really a great piece of civil rights legislation. we can let the filibuster yet
again be used to deny the people of this country, the ability to get a good civil rights bill to protect our democracy and make voting more fair for all of our citizens. >> are you concerned, attorney general, if the democrats are the minority in the senate, the republicans, the majority could ramp through a lot of legislation strictly with a majority vote, the democrats wouldn't have that filibuster? >> yeah, the threat is so immediate. our democracy is such -- so much risk right now that we have to deal with that problem right now. and that means passing this bill. that means doing away with modifying the filibuster and what happens in the future, we'll have to deal with it as it comes. there is potentially, i suppose, some risk but the risk to our democracy that exists right now requires a solution that must be found, must be passed right now. >> did you ever think attorney general, that the united states of america would be back in this place with so many fighting
tooth and nail against these voting restrictions? >> you know, like many people, i perhaps got a little complacent and thought that america was a fundamentally different nation that our democracy was so enshrined in the concept of who we are as a nation it would never really be at risk. the reality is our democracy is now at risk and now that takes me back to, you know, the 20th century. i think about what those democracies that were lost in the middle part, the early part of the 20th century where democracy was not adequately defended and authoritarian regimes rose. not because democracy was unpopular. you know, democracy was strong. but the reality is the defense of democracy was weak and we cannot allow that to happen in this country. we came very close in this last election to having a coup. that is in essence, what was going on there, and you look at everything from before november, the november election all the way up through january the 6th
and after that. it was all part of a process designed to somehow see how the minority would win an election they lost at the polls. >> attorney general, former attorney general eric holder, thanks for joining us. critically important issue, indeed. to our viewers, thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, the breaking news. the first exit polls on the california governor recall election are coming into cnn now. will gavin newsom keep his job? it's become a national race and did donald trump help him if he succeeds? plus, more breaking news. call for mark milley to resign tonight after a new book by bob w wood ward says milly was so concerned trump would start a war with china, he took it into his own hands. the likely next mayor of new york say