On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Rep. Cedric Richmond, (D) Louisiana, Biden campaign co-chair
- Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia
- Sen. Pat Toomey, (R) Pennsylvania
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
- Reporting and insight from:
- Paula Reid, CBS News White House Correspondent
- Mark Strassmann, CBS News National Correspondent
- Bob Schieffer, CBS News Political Contributor
- David Becker, CBS News Contributor and Election Law Expert
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. Today on FACE THE NATION, an excruciating election week is over, as America shatters voting records and elects its forty-sixth president. But the forty-fifth, so far, refuses to concede.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: The people of this nation have spoken. They've delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For the seventy-four and a half million Americans who voted for the Biden/Harris ticket, Saturday was a rare day of jubilation in a year filled with fear and uncertainty. For the presumptive President-elect, the challenges ahead are enormous.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify. Who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's because the other seventy million Americans who voted in campaign 2020 did not vote for the Democrats.
CROWD (in unison): We won't stop. We won't stop.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Some are die-hard supporters of President Trump who are challenging the projections and vote counts.
RUDY GIULIANI (Attorney to President Trump): Don't be ridiculous. Networks don't get to decide elections. Courts do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Actually, the voters do. But so far there is no evidence of fraud, and Democratic leads in a recount could be insurmountable.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: I'm proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse coalition in history.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In this election, more than a third of voters were non-white. More women voted than men, and the new administration reflects that diversity. Senator Kamala Harris will be the first woman, the first Black, and the first Asian American to serve as vice president.
SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll hear from the Biden campaign co-chairman, Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond. Plus, we'll talk with Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin about governing in a Biden/Harris administration with what looks to be a divided Congress. We'll take a look at the potential legal challenges from the Trump campaign in key states and get an update on the dangerous new phase of coronavirus with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Plus, the legendary Bob Schieffer weighs in on the burden on a Biden administration to unite America moving forward.
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning. Welcome to FACE THE NATION, and to a new week. Last week, American democracy was tested, as we waited more than three and a half days for votes to be counted and a presidential projection to be made. Saturday morning, former vice president Joe Biden was projected the winner, defeating an incumbent for only the fourth time in the past one hundred years. And although America has decided, President Trump has not conceded that he's been defeated. As of this morning, President-elect Biden has two hundred and seventy-nine electoral votes, nine more than the two hundred and seventy needed to win. Four states have not been determined yet, Georgia and North Carolina are toss-ups, Arizona is leaning Democrat, and President Trump is likely to win in Alaska. Despite the relief that the election is over, the coronavirus pandemic around the world has reached dangerous highs in case numbers. Yesterday, the U.S. recorded over a hundred and twenty-seven thousand new cases, while Europe is seeing its own terrifying highs. France, a country with one fifth the population of the U.S., reported nearly ninety thousand cases on Saturday. We begin this morning with CBS News national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): From sea to shining sea, our two Americas have a result but not reconciliation.
MAN #1: No respect for this country.
MARK STRASSMANN: Instant reaction coast to coast to the President-elect.
MARK STRASSMANN: And already the winner is repudiated by roughly half the country, just like his predecessor.
MAN #2: We haven't raised a white flag by no stretch of the imagination. You know, we're here until this thing is rock solid done.
MARK STRASSMANN: In Pennsylvania, the keystone battleground state, Trump supporters claim, with zero proof, six hundred thousand votes have been stolen.
RUDY GIULIANI (Attorney to President Trump): Some places may be amateurs at voter fraud. Philadelphia is a professional place for voter fraud.
MARK STRASSMANN: In the next few days, expect the Trump legal team to file a series of long-shot lawsuits. They filed a new one Saturday in Arizona. Those suits will allege widespread vote-stealing irregularities, from faulty signatures to tallies from dead people. Critics, including some Republicans, charge it's all political theater.
GOVERNOR CHARLIE BAKER (R-Massachusetts): I think the President's comments that there's some national conspiracy around this aren't supported by any facts.
MARK STRASSMANN: Courts have rejected similar suits in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan and Georgia.
RONNA MCDANIEL (Republican National Committee Chairwoman): We will not give up on this process until every last issue has been resolved.
MARK STRASSMANN: For the Trump campaign, that leads recounts in razor-thin races. Georgia has called for one, Wisconsin's another possibility, so is Pennsylvania. But that state's law requires a margin of one half of one percent or less, and the Biden lead is beyond that and growing.
MARK STRASSMANN: Recounts in past major elections have shifted votes from a handful to a few hundred, but they seldom change outcomes. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann in Atlanta. Thanks.
The President has been uncharacteristically quiet since the race was called with the exception of Twitter activity. That's not the case just outside the White House. Paula Reid reports.
PAULA REID (CBS News White House Correspondent/@PaulaReidCBS): Just moments after networks projected Joe Biden as the next President, an impromptu celebration erupted outside the White House. Earlier Saturday, the President headed out to his Virginia golf club. He appeared to be on the course as news broke of his projected defeat. Later, he posed with a wedding party while receiving well-wishes from supporters.
WOMAN: Don't give up. Don't give up.
PAULA REID: In a speech Saturday, President-elect Biden called for unity.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself, but now let's give each other a chance.
PAULA REID: CBS News has learned advisers urged the President to make public remarks, but instead he took to Twitter, falsely claiming "observers were not allowed into the counting rooms. I won the election." In fact, election officials say poll-watchers from both parties were allowed to observe. He is now the third President or nominee to lose the popular vote twice. The President still pointed out that his seventy-one million votes were "the most ever for a sitting President." With the race called for Biden, the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, dug in, vowing more legal challenges.
RUDY GIULIANI: First of all, obviously, he is not-- he is not going to concede when at least six hundred thousand ballots are in question.
PAULA REID: Senior White House officials tell CBS News the President will concede when all legal options are exhausted and when the final numbers reflect a Biden win.
PAULA REID: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is currently recovering from COVID, along with at least four other White House staffers, and in his absence a lot of aides are pointing fingers at the President's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, asking why he didn't have a better strategy ready to contest the election results. Even the loyal vice president is coming under scrutiny. While Mike Pence typically provides his counsel and support behind closed doors, when it comes to offering public support at this critical moment, many aides are right now asking, where is Mike Pence? Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Paula, thanks.
We go to Biden campaign co-chair and Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond. He's in Philadelphia. Good morning to you.
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-Louisiana/@RepRichmond): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are seventy-three days until Inauguration Day. I know you're fresh off a win, but that clock has already started. The President-elect announced last night he plans to form a COVID task force. What can you tell us about what they will do and what his first priorities are?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, I can tell you they're going to take the-- the Biden COVID plan, and they're going to turn it into policy and action items so that on day one we are ready to start to implement our plan and our vision for how we deal with COVID. And, of course, that involves robust testing, tracing, and dealing with the economic fallout of COVID.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Biden received nearly-- the President-elect, I should say, received nearly seventy-four and a half million votes. But President Trump got a pretty impressive turnout of seventy million voters. Isn't that a strong sign that Trumpism is not dead? This is a force that you will have to reckon with.
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: No, look, I think Vice President Biden will be a different kind of president. I think he's going to be able to bring House members from the Republican side, House members-- Senate Republicans together on legislation. He served with many of them. But then again, you have to look at his numbers. He won Arizona. He won Georgia. And that will give him some coattails and some leverage when dealing with the Senate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Perhaps some, but the President-elect just narrowly held together that so-called blue wall of Midwestern states. I mean, if you look at the breakdown in-- in Wisconsin, for example, much of his victory was delivered by large margins in-- in cities, areas like Milwaukee. If you look at it, the more rural areas, only two of the twenty-three counties that voted for President Trump in 2016 and, before that, President Obama actually flipped. So that divide still exists. Why do you think it seems to be deepening that divide between rural and urban America?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, we control the House. Democrats control the House. The question is about the Senate and senators are elected statewide. And so when you look at us winning statewide in places like Georgia, I think that that is a wakeup call to many senators that it's a different day. And, you know, statesmen, they look at the next generation. Politicians, they look at the next election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: And so the fact that the battlefield will be a lot different for the Senate in two years. I think that all of that is leverage for us to achieve our agenda. But again, we want to work with both sides because at the end of the day, it's the American people we're trying to help. The old saying is that when two elephants fight, only the grass suffers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, a lot of CBS polling has consistently shown that the American people blame both parties, particularly when it comes to this failure to deliver immediate financial relief for COVID-19. Do you think it was a miscalculation for Democrats not to compromise on that before the election?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, no, look, if we separate our COVID relief, then people will get left behind and corporations will get taken care of. What the real failure was that we have a President of the United States that will not pick up the phone and call the Speaker of the House. Speaker Pelosi has been very clear that she's willing to move, she's willing to meet halfway. But at the end of the day, we have to take care of front line workers. We have to provide state and local governments, money for policemen and firemen and front line workers. If we do a COVID relief package without that, without taking care of the American people and state and local governments, it's a hollow package that will still hurt our inner cities and our states.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you expect that to pass before January?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: I would hope so, and we're coming back into session in the next week or so, and that will be one of our priorities.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand Democrats remain in the majority, but you did lose seats as a party in the House. Do you think there needs to be a change in leadership?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: No, I don't.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You continue to support Speaker Pelosi then?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: I do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your colleague Whip Clyburn on Fox said recently, "defund the police and Medicare for all and socialism were albatrosses around our necks." He was talking about this last election. Do you agree that these messages that may actually have energized some progressive voters, some young voters, have ultimately hurt your party? Is there a reckoning that needs to happen among Democrats?
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, I certainly think there should be a conversation. Now look, our progressive wing of the party is very important to our party, but I think that what Whip Clyburn was trying to say, that no matter how progressive your ideals and values are, and what you want to do and how bold your plans are, if we don't win, if we don't keep the majority of the House, you cannot implement any of those plans. So you can't govern if you can't win. And so I think our party has to make sure that we have a solid playbook of what we want to do, how we want to help the American people. But, when we lose and if we lose the House of Representatives, then we will be in the minority and we won't pass a bill for at least two years. And I think that-- that his point is we have to make sure we win first and govern second. And so when we govern, we will govern with our values. But when we can't pass legislation, we shouldn't be out there talking about it. And some titles hurt. Defunding the police is a title that hurts Democrats, and especially when the fact of the matter is nobody's calling for defunding the police.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: We're calling for reinventing how we police communities in this country, how we do criminal justice. So, I think that basically what the Whip is saying, and I agree with, is that words have consequences. And in this election, those words cost us some Democratic members.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much congressman for your time this morning. Congratulations.
FACE THE NATION will be back in one minute. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who joins us from Charleston, West Virginia. Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-West Virginia/@Sen_JoeManchin): Morning, Margaret. How are you?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I-- I'm doing well. I wonder if you agree with your Democratic colleague, Congressman Richmond, who said this was a wakeup call to senators this election, that it is a different day. Do you agree? And what should the President-elect's first order of business be?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, basically, Joe Biden has said he's going to be a president for all of us, and that's exactly what he has to do, bring us all together, bringing Democrats and Republicans together, because it is a wakeup call for all of us. The country is more divided now than any time in our history or basically any time since the Civil War, as far as I can see. And we don't want to go back to those days, so we have to come together. Joe Biden got elected in a very, very contested primary, and all the nuances that were thrown on the Democratic Party is not who we are. He was not for any of this stuff. And I think Jim Clyburn said it best, that was an albatross around us. Basically labeling every Democrat as a socialist or supporting socialism, that's not who we are. It's not who I am. It's not how we were raised. And it hurt a lot of good Democrats in rural America, Montana, for one. Other places around the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, President Trump says he's fighting for the forgotten men and women, and he seems to define that as non-college educated whites. Eighty percent of the workforce in your state lacks a four-year college degree. It went ruby red for President Trump. Why didn't the Democratic Party's message break through?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, it was a-- it wasn't a good message. I mean, we let them tag us before basically we could remind the people who we are, but we didn't have a good message. I'll be very honest with you, Margaret. Here is the thing, four years ago in rural America, in America in general, voted for Donald Trump because Democrats were mad, independents were mad. They thought they'd been left behind. And I always said this, West Virginians felt like they were returning Vietnam veterans. We did everything this country asked and now we weren't good enough or you left us behind. There was no pathway forward. So they voted in record numbers. They went from being mad to being scared in 2020. They were scared of this socialism that was thrown out there by a radical part of the so-called left that was throwing all this out, that basically scared the bejesus out of people and that hung on and hung on strongly. And it's not who we are. It is not who we are and it's not what we're about. And I have fought against that. Joe Biden has fought against that. We're not for New Green Deal. We're not for all the things that he's talked about, Medicare for all. We can't even pay for Medicare for some. We've got to take care of a lot of things.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I want to ask you about that, because there-- I understand who-- who you say Democrats are. But obviously there isn't a lot of agreement at this point within the party. Your Republican colleague, Mitt Romney said, "This election shows conservative principles are on the ascendency. Americans don't want to get rid of coal or gas. They don't want Medicare for all." You just said that the Green New Deal is not something that people want. There's a whole lot of fracking, I understand, in West Virginia and a whole lot of coal. But did the President-elect's energy message hurt him? Is that also what you're saying? It's not just socialism, that is what Joe Biden said.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: What Joe Biden said, and what Joe Biden's bill is, the Biden energy plan--and we're working with that--is going to be an all-inclusive. You need all of the energy. First and foremost, you must be energy independent. To have the most powerful nation on earth, we can't be dependent on foreign-- on any foreigners-- foreign countries for our energy sources. So that means we're going to use coal and we're going to use gas and we're going to use oil and we're going to be able to-- to use our renewables and be able to develop the fuels of the future. But we're going to do it in the cleanest fashion. I believe in innovation, not elimination. And we've talked about this--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: --and what was said and what we're going to do is two different things. And it did come across wrong, and it was very difficult. But that didn't help at all. But I can tell you, Joe Biden is not against fracking. Fracking can be done. And we do it every day in West Virginia and do it in the safest manner. We capture the methane.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: We don't let it escape into the air and all these things can be done better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you what can actually get through because it seems in early reporting, the Biden camp will have to rely on a lot of executive orders, particularly if the Republicans hold on to the Senate as they appear poised to do. That would make it hard for him to repeal, for example, the Trump tax cuts. That would make it hard for him to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers. I mean, is the message from this election that Democrats need to be moderate?
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Oh, I've always been moderate. I would-- I would-- I would encourage all Democrats to be moderate, find the middle if you can. We're not going to be able to govern from the extremes or from the fringes. Never have been. But when you're talking about the things you are-- fiscal responsibility wasn't even spoken about in this election, not in-- our side. And Republicans-- we piled on more debt in four years-- in the last four years, more debt at a faster rate than any time since World War II. Someone should be concerned about that. So I believe I-- I say-- I've always said I'm fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. I believe most Americans are, my moderate Republican friends and the moderate Democrats. We've got to govern from that middle, that moderate middle. Joe Biden has always been there. He knows how to work across the aisle. He'll reach out first and make this Senate work and give it every chance he can. And I can assure you, there are my Republican friends that are concerned about this runaway debt. They want to make sure that we're able to do it in a fiscally--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: --responsible way. So you'll be surprised. There'll be more and more crossing over wanting to work in a more moderate, moderate Senate. I really believe that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We'll see if that happens. Thank you very much, Senator Manchin.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Pennsylvania, the state that put President-elect Joe Biden over the top. Joining us from Bethlehem is Republican Senator Pat Toomey. Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY (R-Pennsylvania/@SenToomey): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your home state, as we just said, put Biden over the top. Is it time for President Trump to concede?
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: You know, seventy million Americans voted for Donald Trump and they and the President deserve to have this process play out. Now, I understand yesterday the media projected how this is going to end and the media projection is probably correct. But there is a reason that we actually do the count. And by the way, part of our process is to adjudicate disputes. It can include recounts. In fact, under Pennsylvania law, there's an automatic recount if the vote margin is half a percent. At the moment Joe Biden is leading in Pennsylvania by only six tenths of one percent. So, let's let this come to its proper conclusion and-- and in the process, maximize the number of people who have confidence it was done properly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Joe Biden is ahead by more than thirty thousand votes. I mean, you understand at a certain point that a recount--
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --really wouldn't just change the math.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Pennsylvania law has an automatic recount, we should follow the law.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Now if it comes to a lead that's outside of the automatic recount margin, then Pennsylvania law gives the losing candidate the opportunity to petition for a recount. The loser has to pay for it. And you're right, that recounts very seldom change the outcomes. I understand that. But there's nothing wrong with following the process in the law.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. And you're not saying it's not being complied with?
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: I've not said that, no.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: We're not finished yet, that's all. That's all I'm saying.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We have to take a commercial break, but I want to continue this conversation on the other side of it. So please stay with us, Senator.
And we'll be back with our next half hour.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with more from Senator Toomey as well as election law expert David Becker, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, and our own Bob Schieffer. It wouldn't be an election without his closing thoughts. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION, and to our conversation with Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
Senator, just a moment ago, you were saying rightfully that it is well within the President's team's legal right to raise questions or to ask for recounts. But there's a whole lot of noise being made by a lot of presidential allies who are alleging far more than that, using terms like fraud, rigged. In fact, Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying he's asking the Justice Department to investigate claims here. There are nine GOP congressmen from your state who are questioning the integrity of election officials. Isn't this damaging overall to our democracy?
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: You know, every election has some irregularities, we've had some in Pennsylvania in the past, we had some in Pennsylvania this time. They should be adjudicated. If people have seen, if there is evidence of fraud or wrongdoing, by all means, go into a federal court, get it corrected, punish the wrongdoers, correct the vote count and do what we need to do. That's what I think should happen. Apparently, they're going to be a lot of lawsuits tomorrow. We'll see the evidence. We'll see what the allegations are. I have confidence in our federal judiciary to make the right decisions about them, and then we'll be able to wrap this up and move on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So to be clear, you have seen none of the evidence that the President's lawyers say they have about your state?
SEN. TOOMEY: So-- well-- well, to be clear, for instance, there-- there are some problems that need to be solved. For instance, in Pennsylvania, unfortunately, we have a rogue state Supreme Court that violated the U.S. Constitution and violated Pennsylvania law by declaring that ballots arriving after the Election Day can be counted, even though our statute forbids that. So, that needs to be adjudicated. Those ballots--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know--
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: --should not be counted. Now--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --those, those--
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: --I don't think those are enough--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --ballots haven't been counted. Those ballots have been segregated--
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Well, then--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and CBS News has learned there are about eighty-five hundred of them.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Okay-- okay. So I think the number is probably not big enough to determine the outcome of the election. But observers in Philadelphia anyway, have not been able to get close enough to-- to understand how that segregation has occurred. This is the kind of thing that should just be clarified. As I say, I don't think it's going to be nearly a large enough scale to change the outcome of the election. But it's understandable that people would want that corrected. And we should, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is future elections.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Broadly, I want to know what you think the message from this election was that the Republican Party has remade itself as the party of Trump. Do you believe that is still the mandate?
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Well, I will tell you unambiguously, this was a rejection of the radicalism that has increasingly been the driving force in the Democratic Party, the woke left had a major setback. I mean, nobody thought we were going to pick up seats in the House. Nobody thought we were going to hold the Senate, which I think is likely. We didn't lose a single legislative body across the country--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President also didn't take your state.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: --in Pennsylvania in our state House and Senate. That's right. And I think, you know, there's no question that-- that personality traits and character traits of the President rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. And that was probably problematic for the president. It certainly was. And-- but-- but, you know--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SEN. TOOMEY: --the outcomes that this administration has been remarkably successful with economic outcomes--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: --with foreign policy. So I think the policy-- policies have been accepted. And the broad Republican victories down ballot--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: --suggest that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Senator Toomey, thank you for your insights today.
And we want to take a closer look now at some of the legal questions the President's team is raising, with CBS News contributor and election law expert David Becker. Good morning to you.
DAVID BECKER (CBS News Contributor and Election Law Expert/@beckerdavidj): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just heard the senator from Pennsylvania and his description of what's going on in his state. What-- what's your reaction?
DAVID BECKER: Well, he's right about a couple of things. He's right that right now President Bi-- Vice President Biden-- President-elect Biden leads by a margin outside of the recount margin. And actually, that margin is likely to grow. It's around forty one thousand right now and it's likely to grow beyond President Trump's victory margin of twenty sixteen of forty four thousand later today. So it's very unlikely it'll be an automatic recount in Pennsylvania. He's also right that the election overall was very good for Republicans. They did very well nationwide. They held the Senate, they gained seats in the House. They did very well in state legislative races. And any baseless accusations that the election lacked integrity actually cast doubt on those results, as well as the President's results. I think in Pennsylvania specifically, there are some claims regarding observers that are false. We know from Republican election officials in Philadelphia that observers for the Trump campaign and the Republican Party were present in the counting rooms at all times. They could see everything that was going on whenever ballots were out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It was actually a live camera, streaming--
DAVID BECKER: Yeah, there's a twenty-four/seven live stream. There's recordings of there's-- there's extensive evidence of this. And as you noted, the ballots that arrived after Election Day have not been counted yet. They have not been reported. All of the ballots that we're seeing right now, the vote counts in Pennsylvania. They all reflect ballots that were received on Election Day or earlier. So those ballots that were issued, those very small number of ballots, perhaps eighty-five hundred of them--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
DAVID BECKER: --that have-- that have been segregated pursuant to the Supreme Court's order, they have not been counted or reported out yet. And in fact, if you're behind, as President Trump is right now in Pennsylvania, it's unusual that you're not asking for those ballots to be counted because you might need more ballots to narrow the margin.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So can you help us make sense of what the Trump strategy may be here? Our reporter Nicole Sganga spoke to some members of the Trump team, and the strategy was described to her as planning to win the Georgia recount and point out irregularities in Wisconsin. That still doesn't get you to two hundred and seventy electoral votes. What is the strategy?
DAVID BECKER: It's very hard to determine a coherent strategy here because, for instance, in Arizona, you see them arguing to count more votes. In Pennsylvania, they're saying stop the count. In Wisconsin, the margin of victory for President-elect Biden is about the same as Trump's margin of victory in 2016, which-- which a recount upheld. It's very, very unusual. In fact, it's-- there's no precedent in American history for a margin of thousands of votes to be overturned in a statewide race. Other guests have mentioned this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, am-- am I hearing you say this is more of a PR strategy than a legal one?
DAVID BECKER: That's what it appears to be. I mean, if you look at Florida 2000, you had two very competent teams of-- legal teams. And, in fact, three members of that team on the Republican side are now sitting on the Supreme Court. And they went down and collected facts for weeks and then litigated that out through the court system. What we're seeing now is crazy allegations being thrown around on Twitter and elsewhere. And when it goes to court, they fall-- they-- they fall apart. There's no-- nothing there. They've been losing every case that has been brought post-election, the Trump campaign has.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
DAVID BECKER: And so it does appear it might be more of a PR stunt than it is an actual cohesive legal theory.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it-- it-- it-- to be fair to those, because there are some big names involved in this. Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the-- the Judiciary Committee, says he has a sworn affidavit from a postal worker in Pennsylvania. Rudy Giuliani, the President's attorney, also claims he has affidavits. Can people just lie and get away with it? Or are these affidavits actual evidence that needs to be considered at this point?
DAVID BECKER: This is why we don't litigate cases outside of landscaping companies. This is why we actually go to court and require proof. And every time they've brought this proof to court, that proof has fallen apart and failed. So--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about a landscaping company because that's where the Philadelphia press conference was held yesterday.
DAVID BECKER: Yeah, that's right. So, I mean, it's important. You can say whatever you want on Twitter. You can say whatever you want when you're being interviewed or at a press conference. But ultimately, you have to prove these allegations in court. And ultimately, each of these allegations has failed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the Trump campaign has filed suit in Nevada, Arizona. They have plans for other states, they say. Are any of these significant? I mean, they're also raising money, they say, for a recount in Wisconsin.
DAVID BECKER: So I think the recount strategy is likely to fail because the margins are just too great. We just don't see any historical precedent for overturning margins that great. The margin is growing in Georgia. It's over ten thousand now. The other litigation really doesn't have a strategy, whether it's Sharpie pens in Arizona or whether it's observers in Pennsylvania or the late arriving ballots in Pennsylvania. We're not seeing much there, there. And so I think it's unlikely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: One thing I-- I didn't get to with the senator was this really troubling incident in Philadelphia, at the center where they were counting mail ballots, there were heavily armed men, arrested outside. You know, a lot of these election workers.
DAVID BECKER: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How concerned are they for their safety right now?
DAVID BECKER: They are very concerned. I talked to some of them yesterday. There are-- these are people who have been away from their families for days. They haven't seen them much. One of them-- his son, just had a birthday and he had to miss that birthday essentially because he was working the polls. They are getting no sleep. They're getting death threats.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
DAVID BECKER: Some of them include racist and anti-Semitic language. And then we hear about this threat on their lives. It's shameful. I mean, these are public servants who are doing you know-- they're not always well-paid. They're not really well paid at all. They don't get a lot of recognition. Usually we only know their names, when something goes wrong. They're really heroes of democracy right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And they're working amid a pandemic. So, thank you.
And we thank all of them, all the election workers who helped our democracy function.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The election may be over, but this new surge of coronavirus cases is just now beginning to take off. We want to check in now with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Good morning. The President--
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --the President-elect says his very first priority is dealing with this pandemic, and he's going to name a task force tomorrow. Some of the names released by his campaign include a former surgeon general from the Obama years, as well as the former Homeland Security adviser. Realistically, what can a group like this do now since they don't take office till the end of January?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think the first thing they want to do is come in with a very clear plan and the President-elect has articulated what he would do. I mean, there's not a lot of novelty to this. We know what works. We know what we need to do. And so they want a plan for how they're going to hit the ground running to try to implement their strategy. The other thing that the President-elect and his team could be doing is working directly with the National Governors Association. We have one President at a time. They cannot govern. They are not in a position to govern, but they can start working with the governors to try to formulate policy through the governors, with the governors, and try to create a more national strategy that way. Because if you're not going to have a federally led national strategy in the next couple of months and it's going to be led at the state level, you at least want to coordinate across the different states, so it starts to have the semblance of a more cohesive plan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That sounds a pretty grim assessment of what you think the Trump administration might do between November and January to get a hold of the virus.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I'm not sure what they're going to do. I mean, my advice to them would be to get more aggressive. We're past the election. And I think they need to focus on what we can be doing nationally. We've been sort of arguing politically over what I think is a false dichotomy, a strawman, that it's really a choice between lockdowns and no lockdowns. And that's not the case. We-- we don't need to shut down the country, close businesses, tell people they need to stay at home to get some measure of control over this virus. We're not going to get perfect control over this virus. It's a contagious virus. It's going to spread, but it doesn't need to spread at the levels and at the velocity that's going to start to press the health care system, which is what we're seeing. We're seeing that in Wisconsin now. It's building field hospitals. Utah's building field hospitals. El Paso built their fourth mobile morgue. We now have-- we're going to have a record number of hospitalizations this week. Now, fifty-six thousand people are hospitalized. Eleven thousand are in the ICU. These are very big numbers nationally, and it's accelerating very quickly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President-elect said he wants to quickly appoint a supply commander to oversee production and distribution of testing and then eventually a vaccine, materials, masks, and gowns. You previously said that a lot of these wheels are really already going to be in motion by the time he takes office. Are these realistic expectations for him to be setting?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I think you need to do it anyway. The reality is that by the time the President-elect takes office, we'll probably be at the sort of apex, if you will, of what we're going through right now. You know, this is going to play out over the next couple of months. And I think as the President takes office, we'll be coming down the other side of the epidemic curve, hopefully. And the only question is going to be how many people have died in the course of this and how many people have been infected. And we have to keep those numbers down as much as possible. But there's still a lot you can do, I think, as you come in trying to make sure you're going to have adequate supplies of drugs, potentially vaccines, if we have safe and effective vaccine available and the testing equipment, the supply chain, because this isn't going to be over in 2021. I think 2021 will be much better than this year. But you still want to make sure you have adequate supplies as you come down that epidemic curve and head into the fall in 2021 when we're going to face risks again. But there's still probably a lot you could do in the near term, especially with the supply chain.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: That's something that can be affected in the near term. Things like durable medical equipment, testing supplies, gloves, gowns, masks.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So there have been a lot of celebratory gatherings in the past twenty-four hours, mostly with masks, but not all. And I-- I wonder what you think about whether in January will even be able to have an inauguration with the usual celebrations.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I don't think we will. I don't think we're going to be able to bring large crowds together for an inauguration, we're going to be right in the thick of probably the worst point of this epidemic wave that we're going through right now. And, you know, the-- the Biden campaign, the Biden team, have shown that they're willing to forgo the usual trappings of running for office so that they don't expose people unnecessarily. I suspect they're going to take a similar approach to how they-- how they handle the inauguration. I don't know what that's going to look like, but we're not going to be able to bring together tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people on the lawn in Washington for a typical inauguration.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we've learned that the President's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, is now COVID positive. He was at the White House gathering just this week when the President addressed the nation on-- on election night. He had access to testing, regular testing. So, I just wonder what the-- the message is for everyday Americans who are thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving, and maybe think that if they get a test beforehand that they're adequately protecting their families. Are they?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: No, they're not. I mean, the tests can help. I think I-- it's prudent to try to get tested if you're going to bring together a group of people. But if you have individuals who are vulnerable in that setting, I think you still need to be very careful if you're going to be exposing younger people in a broader group to older individuals who are vulnerable. If you do do that, make sure they're wearing high quality masks, try to get an N95 mask and have them wear it the whole time. Try to keep people separated and distanced where you can. You know, you need to take a layered approach. Testing alone can't create a safe environment--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: --a protective bubble. Even the NHL and the NBA, which had enormous testing, weren't able to use testing alone.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Gottlieb, great to talk to you.
We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Around the world, there's been some surprising and some not so surprising reaction from world leaders about the new American president. CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports from Moscow.
HOLLY WILLIAMS (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@HollyMAWilliams): Good morning. Russia state media has portrayed this U.S. election as chaotic and its democracy as flawed. But even inside the Kremlin, they may be looking forward to a more predictable American president.
WOMAN #1: America has made its choice, but it's choice is a man who rarely leaves his basement, who often doesn't know where he is.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: That's RT, often referred to as a Russian propaganda outlet.
JOE BIDEN: Four more of Georgia. Georgia--
HOLLY WILLIAMS: U.S. intelligence concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and U.S. officials warned it was doing the same this year, seeking to denigrate Joe Biden. But political analyst Maria Lipman believes that Russia is disappointed in the Trump administration, in part, for failing to ease sanctions, and may welcome a more conventional president.
MARIA LIPMAN: He will be more a kind of man of the establishment, not erratic as Donald Trump. And this in itself is an advantage.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: There were no warm congratulations from Iran.
WOMAN #2: Iran's president has called for the return of the next U.S. administration to its obligations.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: He hoped the U.S. would now return to the Iran nuclear deal, which President-elect Biden has pledged to do. China's state media has also reveled in America's election turmoil, but its leaders hope that Joe Biden will resolve the trade war started by President Trump.
BORIS JOHNSON (British Prime Minister): I look forward very much to working with President Biden and his team on a lot of crucial stuff for us in the-- in the weeks and months ahead.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: And the mayor of Paris tweeted simply: Welcome back, America.
HOLLY WILLIAMS: Many of America's allies want to return to U.S. leadership under President-elect Biden, whether it's supporting the World Health Organization or rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Holly Williams in Moscow. Thank you.
And we turn now to the one and only Bob Schieffer. Got to give you the final word, Bob. It's good to see you and to see you here in person.
BOB SCHIEFFER (CBS News Political Contributor): Thank you very much. And I'm-- I'm honored to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know, you're always so good at putting things in perspective. How do you sum up this week, this election?
BOB SCHIEFFER: We still live in a very divided, deeply divided, country. And I don't think there's-- there's any question of that. Biden won this election fair and square, as far as we know. I think there's no suggestion of any kind of fraud or anything like that, there are these allegations out there. But I-- I think-- I-- I think that will take care of itself. Have-- have the investigations, but I don't think much will come of that. But here's the thing, it's as if President Trump were elected president not of the United States, but of two different countries.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Two very different countries. And I think the Democrats have to treat the losing side with the utmost respect and dignity because they're going to be there. And Joe Biden is going to need their help as well as the help of Democrats to do what needs to be done in this country. It's-- it's a huge victory from-- for Democrats, but it is not the shellac-- shellacking--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --of-- of Trumpism that Democrats were hoping for. What-- seventy, seventy-one thousand people voted for Donald Trump. That's a huge number of people out there. And they're going to be part-- they are not going away. The other part is, I don't think Donald Trump is going away. I think he's going to leave the White House, but he's still going to be around. I don't know doing what--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --but I just don't see him leaving after getting seventy million votes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. With-- with really ardent supporters, too.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the President-elect has made the right moves in terms of rhetoric to reach out. He said even just last night, I know what it's like to lose and how hard it is. But how do you actually unite a country where these divisions go so deep?
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I think you-- you do what-- what Joe Biden has been doing. I think he's been doing pretty much the right thing since this has been decided. He reached out. He said I want to be the president of all of the people, not just the president of the Democrats. And-- and I think it is-- it is important for him to tone down this rhetoric. I mean, not talking about enemies but talking about opponents, talking about how people can have two different points of view. I think what the President-- the President-elect-- and maybe he's already done this-- my guess is he probably has. I think the first thing he needs to do is call Mitch McConnell.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
BOB SCHIEFFER: He knows him. They've been friends for thirty years. I know that Mitch McConnell thinks highly of Joe Biden. Now, I'm not saying call him and then run out and tell everybody on television I just called Mitch McConnell.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Keep it between themselves. There's got to be-- there got to be things that are good for both Joe Biden and for Mitch McConnell. And if they are, then that's-- that's-- that's good for the country. And-- and I think that's the place to start. How could either of them be hurt by later holding a news conference and saying, we just want everybody to know we're talking.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I love that that's the new benchmark for success, hey, at least they talked. But what-- what do you think-- because the list is so long-- what do you think is the most difficult challenge for the new President?
BOB SCHIEFFER: I think just getting people-- he's got to get people in his own party together. They've got to decide on what the priorities are. There's no question COVID has to come first. But he's also got to deal with the-- with this economy. And-- and among other things, why couldn't he come up with the two of them, come up with some sort of a public works plan, where people who can't work in-- in restaurants, because it's dangerous, could work outside in public works projects? I think there are things like that that can be done and are possible.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. For those eleven million people still looking for jobs that just haven't come back. Bob, thank you. So good to see you.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. We won't see you next week. Instead CBS Sports will be broadcasting the Masters, starting at 10:00 AM eastern, but we will see you the Sunday after that.
For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.
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