tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC November 4, 2020 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
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it is the top of the 9:00 p.m. hour here on the east coast. thank you for being with us tonight. our special election night? election week? coverage continues now. brian williams, joy reid, nicolle wallace and steve kornacki. our coverage is about to heat up because we're awaiting a major vote drop out of the great state of arizona. we think that is expected imminently. steve kornacki has just started moving his body more quickly. the arizona results, many of them from maricopa county, could be determinative for that state and that state could be determinative for the presidency. the other developing story we're following involves an ongoing influx of votes from georgia. when we came on the air, the trump campaign had filed multiple lawsuits in michigan and pennsylvania. the trump campaign trying to shut down the vote count in those states.
biden's senior adviser ron klain pointing out to us at the top of our coverage that if the trump campaign succeeded in shutting down the vote count in michigan, that would be in his words dumb since in michigan, biden is currently ahead of trump, and so stopping the vote would have the effect of ensuring that president trump loses there. we can now add georgia to the list of states in which the trump campaign has sued to stop the vote. just since we've been on the air, the trump campaign has filed that georgia lawsuit as well. in addition, the trump campaign calling for a recount in wisconsin. we spoke with the wisconsin attorney general earlier in our coverage tonight, expressing confidence that any recount in wisconsin, certainly legally entitled to be done, but it would be something that they would expect to go quickly and without incident in wisconsin and to not likely change votes too far in either direction. it is anybody's guess whether there will be any more trump campaign lawsuits or calls for recounts before we go off the air.
but the thing i can tell for sure regardless of any action in the courts is the vote count goes on. let's go to steve kornacki at the big board. steve, was i right in reading your body language that something is happening? >> oh, yeah. now, we don't have it -- our system is updating it as i speak, so i am going to write these numbers. there it is. okay what you just saw was the vote total in maricopa county, arizona, just updated. to explain what's going on here, maricopa county is about two-thirds of arizona in terms of population. so this is the mother load when you're talking about results in arizona. biden leading trump. you saw the numbers just adjusted there. we have basically the third batch of votes, the third and final batch of votes that they're going to work through, okay? they're starting to report out. we call these the late early votes. they were, you know, mailed ballots, absentee ballots that came in sort of after this past
weekend or were brought in on election day. and the suspense has been would this be a trump favorable group, or would it be a biden favorable group? so we just got those new numbers. of the new votes that were just reported out, donald trump won 43,966 of them. joe biden won 30,322 of them. donald trump is getting around 59% of these votes. >> that's crazy. >> yeah. remember the three buckets here. >> yeah. >> the first bucket was the early. biden won it by ten. the second bucket was the same day. trump won it by 26. the third bucket, you're looking at the start of that. now, this is not all of it. what we just got here, again, about 75,000 votes. remember, they said there's about 400,000 and change to come out of maricopa county. so we got 75,000 of 400,000-plus
out of maricopa county. this pace of 59% for trump, it might change as more ballots are added into here. so let's see. but this at least establishes, i think, up front the possibility here that this third bucket of votes is a trump favorable bucket of votes. and you can see it's already brought him to five points behind in maricopa county. it was ten after the first bucket was reported. it was about six after the same day was cast. and now the first installment of the final batch has made it five. and we can see what has this done to the statewide margin here in arizona? let's scan out there. now it's down to 2.8%, and you see the statewide, that margin there, which was over 90,000, has fallen under 80,000. so there will be more to come here. this is 75,000 out of 400,000 and change. let's see if trump continues to win them at that rate. we knew he has to be getting over 60, i think.
it's a little rough here, but i think he's got to be over 60 with this final batch of votes when all is said and done if he's going to overtake biden. so to be continued. we do expect, by the way, tonight it may be in a couple hours, we're being told, the indications are we do expect a second batch of what i just showed you. >> the reason this is crazy is because while you were explaining this to us earlier in the hour, steve, you were very clear on this idea that a 60% threshold is what we should think about in terms of whether or not this could potentially be good enough news for president trump that it would put him potentially in the lead in arizona. if he's coming in at 59%, i mean we're talking about potentially ending up at -- i mean if things go this way, we are looking at something that looks very close to a tie. >> yeah, and i would just -- i'd say at this point, because it's 75,000 out of 400,000 and change that are going to come in. so we're not sure it's exactly going to be 59% when all is said
and done. if it ends up at 55%, i think he'll be short. if it ends up at 65%, i think there's a chance he would overtake biden there. so we haven't really established the rate. what we've established right now is the possibility. as you said, the basic, almost philosophical question was, is this a fundamentally a group of biden voters, or is this fundamentally a group of trump voters? you heard folks making arguments both ways about what we were going to see when we unveiled these first votes. i think we're seeing it looks like these are going to be more trump voters than biden voters. and so that's why i could tell you nbc didn't call this last night because this possibility existed. >> steve, let me also ask you a process question. as you say, it's about 400,000 outstanding votes for maricopa that we had at the start of this hour. we've just received about 75,000 of the 400,000 that remain. we had thought there was a chance we'd get all 400,000 of those votes all at once. do we know -- a, is that a surprise that we only got a small chunk of them, less than a
quarter of those votes? and you said we are expecting some more within the next couple of hours. what can you tell us in terms of what to expect and when? >> right. so apparently there will be a second report of these tonight. i'm not sure exactly how many there's going to be. again, it was about 75,000 here. apparently there will be a second report. remember, in arizona, 2018 in the senate race, did take a couple days to get to the final result. they were in this process of sort of, you know, we're going to report some here, we're going to report some here. this happened in 2016 as well. i think the hope this time around in arizona was they had changed some of the processing, some of the dates, deadlines on processing where you thought maybe they'd be able to get some of this done earlier and it wouldn't take days once you got into this cycle. but i think there is the potential. we got 75,000 here. maybe we get, i don't know, 50 later, 75 later. maybe we pick up some more tomorrow. we might be in that situation right here in arizona. >> i will just tell people for viewers watching at home in terms of what this means for the presidency, if what steve says is correct procedurally in terms
of how these votes are going to come in, it means we're going to get little bites of arizona vote over time every couple of hours, at least into tonight. and what each new bite of the arizona vote is going to tell us is potential control of that state, which is potentially determinative in terms of the presidency. and there is legitimate suspense as to what the implication of those votes will be. if they are a mix of biden and trump votes at the proportions that we saw from this first group of votes from maricopa county, it is legitimately going to be an open question as to who is going to end up on top by the time all these maricopa votes come in. just remarkable suspense there. brian, back over to you. >> we have vaughn hillyard, who gets to report on his home state. he's with us from scottsdale. vaughn, i know you've been following our discussion here. what blanks do you wish to fill in? >> reporter: i enjoyed just watching these numbers break down here and the subtraction.
like steve, i've been filling out my own math, and literally the percentage number that i had that donald trump needed to maintain the ability to break even and match who is now a 93,000-vote lead for biden, was 59.16%. and what steve calculations were right there was 59%. now w that stated, we should put into context which early ballots these are. these were early ballots that were received by maricopa county over the weekend. so they are going to begin to process -- these are saturday, sunday early ballots. we saw these numbers next week going in the advantage of donald trump. now the question is as we approach and as we get further into this batch, what do those tuesday early ballots look like? the in-person ballots, brian, have already been counted.
and yet by a two to one margin, republican voters came out over democrats and voted in person. donald trump in maricopa county and statewide by more than 60 percentage points over joe biden in person voters. so will those tuesday numbers, when we're getting to that back end of the batch, will they reflect that number as well? i was just on the phone with a top biden official this hour, and they insist that their internal data suggests otherwise, that that number may be closer to 53% or 54%. because they expect that surge of trump turnout, which i was out at the polls just over here in scottsdale just yesterday talking to folks that didn't even vote. like a gentleman named rick. he said he didn't vote in 2016. he thought arizona was in the bag. but he came out and voted for donald trump at the last minute. but that biden official telling me that they believe that there is a good swath of democratic voters who traditionally get their early mail-in ballot in the mail. and because democrats urged voters not to send it into the
mailbox, they encouraged them to walk it in. and that is what they are hoping is reflected in these monday and tuesday totals. they hope that 59% doesn't hold when we're talking about this later end of the batch and that that number is closer to 53% or 54%. if that is the case, then joe biden holds on. but if donald trump remains at that 59% margin there, well, we're going to have some fun ahead here, brian. >> crazy that we're talking about motivation, voter moods, how much of the media message not to use the u.s. postal service got through to people, how crazy it is that our postal service was weaponized against mail carrying during a pandemic, during an election season. vaughn hillyard, scottsdale, arizona. rachel, back over to you. >> we're going to bring into the conversation now ari melber, msnbc chief legal correspondent,
the host of course of "the beat with ari melber." ari, thank you for joining us tonight. we are talking about the vote coming in and the process by which the vote will come in, the timing, the balance of votes that's coming in, and it sort of feels like it's getting increasingly dramatic over the course of the night. that race in arizona obviously still too close to call. right now you can see the difference between the two candidates and how tight it is. if the trump campaign, ari, decides that they want to sue arizona to stop the vote count there, if they take the lead or even if they don't and they decide to sue to try to stop the count the way they have done so already in michigan and in pennsylvania and georgia, there was an interesting statement today by the arizona secretary of state, democrat katie hobbs, who said that president trump and his campaign actually don't have a legal pathway to stop the count in arizona. do you think that she is right in saying so? >> i think that sounds right, and it's a great question,
rachel, because as you've been reporting, the trump campaign is now moving, before we have final results or anyone pew tatively at 270, to try to sue everywhere. candidates who are winning don't sue to change the results. candidates who think they're losing sue. that's why we have this michigan case as you mentioned and these other cases. the extra thing that i think is worth reinforcing that you mentioned is you have the trump campaign ill logically trying to sue to stop voting in a place where they're down. now, everyone remembers in florida 2000. bush was up, so they sued to stop counting, in that case recounting, to hold their lead. i can't underscore enough the complete illogic and perhaps confusion of the trump legal strategy tonight, at this important moment and inflection point, that they're suing in places where they would hurt themselves. the legal terminology for this, if they actually prevailed in michigan, would be congratulations, you played yourself. and we spoke just hours ago to
the top elections official in michigan, secretary of state benson, who said to be clear, this suit has not changed a single vote there. in arizona, i don't think they have a hook to clay it. and in some of these other states, rachel, what the trump campaign has invoked is basically rules about oversight, like the people who might watch the votes or issue a challenge. but that doesn't get you into most courts or to the supreme court alone. for that you'd need something like these mail ballot issues we've seen. >> so on that point, joy and i were talking about this on set earlier just a few moments ago. joy and i were talking about the observers issue and whether or not that is a smart grounds or a legally sound grounds on which to pursue these cases. the trump campaign has announced these lawsuits in pennsylvania and michigan, trying to stop the vote count, but they've got specifically these claims about whether or not their observers are being allowed to see what they think they ought to be able to see.
we also saw that sort of scary footage today from michigan with trump supporters who are self-proclaimed poll observers trying to storm the socievote counting site in detroit. can you explain why this observers issue is the hook they're choosing for some of these cases? >> they choose the observers hook out of a position of weakness. as you and joy know, all that goes to is process, like who is allowed in to look at ballots or oversee. we've got the footage up right now. this is what continuing counting looks like, and different states have different ways that people are allowed to observe that for transparency. but that doesn't typically change the count. so i would say that's a weak way in. it certainly isn't something we would expect to change the results, unlike say a recount or something that changes a batch of votes. where they have a stronger hook is in states like pennsylvania, where everyone should remember it was as recently as just last
wednesday that the supreme court said they agreed with, they were inclined toward some of the republican criticisms of counting mail ballots that would arrive today through friday in pennsylvania. and so we're looking at this margin right here. democrats expect and joe biden said today they think they have a lot more votes coming in. i can tell you that if you did have a very narrow margin in pa and it was the one state that made up either candidate's 270, an approach that said, hey, you want to segment or count differently or not count later mailed ballots, that could get you back to the supreme court. and so again, i'm not talking about whether we like a given candidate or not. we know the observer ploy is weak because it hasn't changed anything in any state recently. so it's just not working. we know the mail ballot issue is a stronger legal claim even if controversial because the court has heard it twice in the last month. >> ari melber, msnbc chief legal correspondent, making it super clear. thank you, ari. >> thanks, rachel. >> we are going to take a quick break here. but keep in mind we've just
received another 75,000 votes from arizona, making -- i won't say more clear, but at least more full the portrait of what's going on in that state. we're also watching vote roll in in georgia. multiple states yet to be decided. the fate of the presidency hangs in the balance. our ongoing coverage continues. stay with us. cell phone repair. did you know liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need? just get a quote at libertymutual.com. really? i'll check that out. oh yeah. i think i might get a quote. not again! aah, come on rice. do your thing. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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we're so happy to have you with us tonight as our election coverage continues. we are watching the effect, watching the impact of new numbers as they arrive in from a number of states in which the voting is still under way. within the last hour, within the last 25 minutes, we received about 75,000 new votes.
the report on the tally of about 75,000 new votes in arizona, and we are expecting over the course of tonight and into the wee hours to be getting more vote out of arizona. right now joe biden appears to be in the lead in arizona, but these new ballots would seem to indicate that president trump may be closing in on biden here. for more let's go to steve kornacki at the board. >> yeah. take a look, rachel. the statewide lead for biden you mentioned there, under 80,000 votes. before this last batch came in, biden was sitting on a 93,000-vote cushion. so this first batch we got from maricopa county, the big one there in arizona, brings the biden lead from 93,000 down under 80,000 with more to come. the indications are that we will get one more report of a big bunch of votes from maricopa county tonight, but probably about 12:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m. eastern time. it might be a little while. but what you just saw a few minutes ago, we're going to get another one of those, i think,
in a couple of hours. so, again, the implications are here, you heard vaughn hillyard go through the math too. you know, if trump is able to get 59%, 60% of the rest that comes in in maricopa and around the state, he has an opportunity to erase that biden lead and to get a win potentially in arizona. so let's just take a look for a second at the electoral college implications if donald trump were to actually win arizona at this point. just to take you through what it would mean and what's at stake here for trump. so if trump were to get arizona -- again, he's behind right now. but if he were to pull it off, that would move him to 225. what would the path to 270 be for him? he would need to get alaska. that one is a state where he's leading in the votes so far. you have nevada reporting, we think, tomorrow. trump is behind there. the ballots that are due to report are not expected to be favorable to trump. we're not going to touch that one for now.
we're going to say that's not part of his path. that means he would absolutely need georgia, where we showed you he is trying to hang on, up by less than 40,000 votes right now with a lot of democratic votes coming in. he would have to hang on in georgia. that would put him to 244. he also has a lead of about 75,000 votes in north carolina. he would have to hang on there. the outstanding issue there, there may be some ballots in the mail in north carolina that were sent before election day that are just arriving today, tomorrow. those will count. as long as there's not enough there for democrats to overtake trump, he could get north carolina. that would put him at 259. i think you can see there's one shot left there. if not nevada, even if he got nevada by the way in this scenario, it's only 265. so the one trump would need then on top of arizona, alaska, georgia, north carolina, he would absolutely need to get florida -- florida? pennsylvania. i'm so used to elections coming down to florida. what is wrong with me? he would need to get pennsylvania, and that would put
him over 270. that's the path he needs to take. >> without georgia, if biden is able to hold on in georgia, is there a path for trump that includes arizona and pennsylvania. >> oh, boy. look what you just did. if georgia comes off the board and goes to joe biden and nevada goes to donald trump, we're in a 269-269 tie. that's what would happen there. >> i'm sorry i said anything. i was not trying to run you into that wall. >> stop breaking steve. >> i think i just aged 20 years. i'm sorry. i take it all back. thank you, steve. >> and that's when steve kornacki went into power save mode. with that in mind, let's bring in our friend nicolle wallace. nicolle, we miss you around here, but we applaud parenting. so you've got that going for you. first of all, where are rur hyo head and psyche as we talk about these outstanding states?
and second of all, when do you want to have the discussion about how the democrats might have gotten their audience wrong in a slew of races around the country? >> and the second one feels a little -- i think we wait for the shank of the night for those conversations. >> all right. >> let me tell you what i'm hearing from three orbits about arizona. first of all, from the biden world, they are feeling good about arizona. two news organizations have already called arizona for joe biden. it doesn't mean they're right, but it makes you feel good on a campaign. trump world has been flashing yellow about arizona since bill stepien took over from the other guy. the diagnosis from the new political regime in trump world was that there were three things working against donald trump in arizona. one was demographic changes. the other was a five-year-long war against john mccain, who was
very popular in arizona. and the third was the impact of the trump really hard-line arpaio immigration policy in a state that was trending in a different direction and sort of started as a john mccain republican state. the third orbit that i've heard from tonight is mccain's former senate staff world, and they said to watch the independent vote and the way that comes in. there's a lot of independent vote there that they think should come in for joe biden. so as we watch arizona, that's sort of the view from all three camps. i'll add this about the recounts. i just hung up with a trump adviser who says that these legal efforts do not really have the imprimatur of the late warren christopher and the james baker sort of statesmen arriving
on the ground in florida the morning after the election there. that these do not seem like the kinds of legal fights that are attracting talent beyond people with the last name trump and one rudy giuliani, who showed up in the state of pennsylvania. so just a little bit of evidence about the view even from inside trump's side about the caliber of legal talent and legal arguments being made in lawsuits that were described to me as very much driven by the client himself without a lot of basis in any sort of consistent legal philosophy or argument at this point. >> nicolle, can i jump in with you on that point? the legal firepower issue, it's usually considered to be a real prestige thing for a lawyer, particularly an ambitious lawyer who is interested in politics and stuff, to be involved in any sort of recount fight, in any sort of presidential campaign
fight. i asked a lawyer associated with us here at msnbc today, not an on-air person but some who works off-air, to have a look at the complaint the trump campaign filed in michigan to try to stop the vote in michigan. and that lawyer described it as something that looked like it was written by an elementary school student and something that did not actually have any of the predicates of a basic legal document, including the who, what, where, why, when of what they were alleging was the reason the court should step in and do something. i feel like that's an interesting thing to know in terms of what the campaigns are bringing to this. but it also makes me wonder if republicans are so confident now that there are so many conservative judges now that they have done such a good job in the federal courts stacking it with ideological, very right-wing, in some cases very young partisan-minded federal judges, that they've got a path even if what they're filing is just trash. >> yeah, that's an interesting
question, and i think this sort of post-election activity may answer the question of whether those courts are so contaminated by what trump has said out loud he wants them to do. trump said last night he's waiting to get this to the united states supreme court. no matter what they do, i think they are forever tainted by the notion that donald trump, who picked three of them, believes that they are sitting there waiting until one of these ludicrous, as you said, juvenile lawsuits makes its way to them. whether they act on that or not doesn't matter. that is how donald trump described them, not just to his supporters but to the world. that is how he sees the united states supreme court. but i think the fact remains that not even folks on the trump side can articulate a legal theory or a legal thesis behind any of them. as we've said since last night, what trump wants to happen in arizona is for voting to keep going. what he wants to happen in michigan and wisconsin is for voting to stop. what he wants to happen in
pennsylvania isn't even clear. so there isn't a legal argument. there isn't a legal through line. so even if you were sort of at the ready for trump, a willing appointee waiting to do his political bidding, which i think is a reach even for the kinds of folks that he's put on the court, it's not clear what the philosophical, legal case is that's being made in the courts. >> nicolle, thank you. let us know what more you find out as we bring in our next guest. and that is minnesota democratic senator amy klobuchar. we're also joined by our colleague lawrence o'donnell, who is here to help with the questioning. senator, thank you for coming on. >> thank you, brian. >> first off, your reaction to this unfolding drama in the state of arizona. >> well, i was so glad that nicolle kind of pulled you guys back off the ledge there, and i thought she did a great job of it because number one, you have to remember there are -- we don't know where the rest of
these votes are, but we do know that something big is happening in arizona. and you've got the fact that not just john mccain, the president going after him viciously, favorite son of arizona, but cindy having done virtual events with her for joe biden was incredible over the last few months and such a strong person in her own right. jeff flake coming out. you've got a strong senate candidate in mark kelly, who's doing so well for the democrats. sinema already winning in the last election. you've got a changing situation in arizona. so i am still bullish on arizona. i also want to add pennsylvania. i know you've talked about that, but there are so many votes still out in the suburbs, in that area. my whole midwest blue wall theory here of the case, which i made from the very beginning of my own presidential run and joe biden made from the beginning as well, is really coming true. and then we've got this amazing numbers coming out of georgia and closing.
so i just want everyone to continue to be calm and patient as we go into tomorrow because joe biden has every reason to believe that he's going to win this, and i've so appreciated his calmness and the fact that he said let every vote be counted. let's get it resolved. and what a contrast to donald trump. >> senator klobuchar, it's lawrence o'donnell. you joined us on this network to discuss the report that you and your senate colleagues put out about a week before the election describing what you expected the vote-counting process to be around the country, especially in the battleground states. in the report, you said, we may not know the winner on election night. that's okay. is the process you've been watching so far okay? >> yes. and i think one of the things -- i liked the discussion about the lawsuits and the fact that the trump lawsuits, to me, have no
merit. they're basically he won by around the same number back in 2016 and was counted. did he not want those votes counted? you have it stopping it in some places, starting it in others. and we predicted this because we know, especially wisconsin and pennsylvania did not start counting until election day. so this was expected, and we have to remember that as we look at all these numbers and what's happening across the country. >> joe biden is winning minnesota by a bigger margin than hillary clinton won minnesota. how was the effort different this time? what did the democrats do this time that was different from four years ago in minnesota and the neighboring states? >> we did a huge effort, of course, on voter turnout as so many other states. we kind of took it on ourselves, some of it, because we weren't as big a focus as some of the other midwestern states. then we also just kept our
suburban turnout really strong. we had in 2018 gotten two brand-new congress members there, angie craig, who is winning in her race, a tough one, but she is soundly ahead in my mind. and then dean phillips. and they helped a lot. so we just -- we made it a real effort. and tina smith declared the victor in minnesota. but, again, the midwest, i believed from the beginning that joe biden couldn't win this without winning those blue wall states in the middle of the country, and he's done it. he made it a priority, and i'm feeling really good about that right now. >> proud midwesterner, democratic senator amy klobuchar, the great state of minnesota. thank you. thank you to lawrence o'donnell for coming on. oth another break for us. when we come back, with votes rolling in, as the senator mentioned, in arizona, in pennsylvania, among our guests, the attorney general of pennsylvania. but that's the big one in the southwest we're looking at.
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you see mr. kornacki at his board. we'll leave him be for now as he counts the votes coming in. but genuine drama in the american southwest now as arizona numbers are what we're taking apart. and to help us do that, bram resnik is with us, anchor and political reporter out at our nbc station in phoenix. bram, what do you know locally that could benefit our coverage, and what aren't we concentrating on perhaps that we should know about? >> i think you're hitting a lot
of the right notes, especially steve's coverage of the vote. we just got about 80,000 ballots dropped and 10,000 ballots donald trump gained 10,000 on joe biden. it's like one of those movies where you turn around, maybe it's butch and sundance. you look around, who are those guys? because if you're a democrat, they are gaining on you, and it's relentless. what's most interesting is it's happening in particular down the ballot. last night was really the blue mir a mirage. you saw a lot of democrats taking the lead in republican-held areas. four-point leads. 52-48, you saw this over and over. and tonight when we showed the latest ballot drop, that was reversed in many cases. so down-ballot, democrats are losing races that last night they thought might be winnable. and that's a big story here because, you know, things like the legislature, our state regulators, they affect a lot of people in a pocketbook kind of
way. i think that might be one thing that's getting missed in all this. >> you're right. that's an important plot line, and i keep thinking there will be time as soon as we get this done and dusted. what further hints can you give on behalf of anxious viewers who are following this drama about the vote that may remain? >> that's the interesting thing. you know, i get asked about the calls that have been made about the race. you know, having been through eight cycles here, we've all acknowledged this is like no cycle we've seen, in particular because the vote's been reversed, democrats voting earlier, republicans voting later. but there's one thing we all know. there are going to be hundreds of thousands of ballots left at the end. could be half a million. could be 600, could be 700. we've seen that many before. in this case, it is so hard to parse where those ballots are, who those voters are. tonight it became clear this was a largely republican vote.
but as i look at the counties where the ballots are left, there's a pretty strong republican county. there's a pretty strong democratic county. does it mean all the votes are going to be republican or democratic? we don't know. it's really kind of a crap shoot. you take it a day at a time. in a lot of ways, it's kind of mimicking the u.s. senate race of 2018, both in style and substance. kyrsten sinema, democrat, was behind martha mcsally and just kept gaining on her until the sunday after the election where she declared victory. don't know how this is going to play out, but that's possible. and i'd add one more thing that we're seeing that's very similar. there's a lot of kind of performance art in 2018. trump supporters putting on protests. we have a couple things right now. we have this sharpie gate going on here, and our first lawsuit connected to the presidential race was filed today over the use of a sharpie in a polling
place. and then over the next few days, today there's a protest at the capitol, and then on friday we have a protest outside our election headquarters in maricopa county. charlie kirk will be leading his crew there, and that should be something, the goal, protect our vote. >> never a dull moment in the american southwest. thank you so much as we're trying to be transparent, as we keep mentioning two news organizations have called the race. we are not among them. we're going to ride it out along with our friend brahm resnik out at kpnx in phoenix, our nbc station. rachel, over to you. >> since we have been on the air tonight, "the new york times" has broken some news about the justice department. one of the things that has, i think, percolated in terms of people's worries about the election since the president falsely declared victory and
today said he hereby claimed to have won various states in which he had not been declared the winner and in which the count was actively still proceeding, the question that seriously percolates alongside assertions like that from an incumbent president is whether he will apply some of the power of the federal government to try to effectuate those things. it won't just be him hereby proclaiming things into the ether. he will actually try to use the power of the united states government in order to make those things true. well, at "the new york times" tonight, here's the headline. armed agents are allowed in ballot-counting venues, justice department tells prosecutors. here's the lede. justice department told federal prosecutors in an email early wednesday morning that the law allowed them to send armed federal officers to ballot-counting locations around the country to investigate potential voter fraud. now, of course, federal law prohibits the stationing of armed federal officers at the polls on election day. but this top justice department
official told prosecutors in a 1:30 a.m. email this morning, that the department interpreted that federal statute to mean that they could send armed federal officers to polling stations and locations where ballots were being counted anytime after election day. quote, the statute doesn't prevent armed federal law enforcement persons from responding to, investigate, or prevent federal crimes at closed polling places or other locations where votes were being counted. again, this sent out last night by a justice department official. this was sent out by the justice department to prosecutors around the country about a half an hour before president trump himself emerged in the east room and made those false claims in which he claimed he had already won the election and he wanted all the vote counting stopped. it's one thing for the president to say that and to elicit laughter and derision around the country. it's another thing for him to say, and by the way, we want armed federal officials to be allowed into vote-counting places to investigate voter fraud where we say that it's
happening. it's an unnerving possibility. it's a grave departure from justice department practice and what would appear to be federal law. but it's also the new reality of the justice department under the trump administration. and it has to loom large in a state like pennsylvania, where the president is not only claiming victory but where he's actively pursuing a legal challenge to try to stop the count in pennsylvania as joe biden steadily cuts into his lead while new votes come in. well, now we're going to talk with a person who you most want to hear from in this circumstance. he is the attorney general of the great state of pennsylvania, josh shapiro. mr.
attorney general, thank you so much for being here tonight. i appreciate you making the time. >> good to be with you, rachel. >> i say that this story about the justice department seeming to okay the use of armed federal officers in places where votes are being counted -- i say it has to loom large in pennsylvania simply because of the way the president has talked about the vote in pennsylvania and the count in pennsylvania as
being something that he wants stopped and something that he sees as illegal or somehow wrong. how is this resonating with you? >> you know, rachel, you and i spoke monday night, and i said to you that we were preparing for months to ensure that we would protect, secure, and count every vote here in pennsylvania. that's exactly what we've done. and as it relates to this doj guidance, we're aware of it. it's yet another one of the issues that we planned for. and i want to assure you and all your viewers that nothing
is going to stop the counting of these legal ballots here in pennsylvania. >> can you walk us through what happens if federal armed officers from the, you know, usa marshal's service or, you know, the federal bureau of prisons response team or one of these other groups of federal officers who they have deployed for other purposes during the trump administration -- if armed
federal officers turn up in allegheny county and knock on the door and say, we want in. we are here to seize the ballots or we are here to interfere. stop this process on orders from the attorney general, what happens? >> well, what what has been happening since the polls closed, which is a strict adherence to state law. and that adherence to state law, when it comes to elections, requires to us secure and protect these ballots and make sure they're counted. and that's exactly what's been going on in pennsylvania. i recognize for some it's going slow. my kids woke me up this morning, they wanted to know the answers right away. i get it's taking a while. but that's because we want to get an accurate count and we want to make sure that justice is done and that the will of the people is heard and protected. and that's what's going to happen here in pennsylvania. >> in terms of the lawsuits that have been brought already by the trump campaign, i may be wrong on this, and forgive me if i am,
but as far as i understand it, i think there are two different legal challenges, sort of two different types in pennsylvania. if that's true, can you d disambiguate those a little bit and tell us what those lawsuits are about? >> it's a bit of a mish-mosh, but let me try and break it down for you. first off, they seem to indicate they wanted to be able to intervene in the united states supreme court to essentially oppose the counting of ballots that were postmarked by election day and received up until friday at 5:00 p.m. these are legal votes, according to our state laws interpreted by our state's highest court, the supreme court of pennsylvania. we don't even know if the u.s. supreme court is going to take that up. it's sort of issue number one or lawsuit number one. the other legal issue stems from a suit they already lost in philadelphia, where they're raising some other issue now that they want to take up to commonwealth court.
and, you know, the final one seems to be similar to suits that they are looking to file in other parts of the country. we're aware of that, it was filed tonight. it is really a new suit in the line of many that have been dismissed outright and found to have absolutely no merit. and i just want to assure you, rachel, these ballots here in pennsylvania are going to continue to be counted. they're going to continue to be counted in accordance with state law. and i had to laugh, your colleague nicolle wallace sort of made a comment about the president's legal team. and, you know, i smile because the reality is, they brought a lot of suits here in pennsylvania to try and limit the vote and now seemingly to try and stop the counting. every single time they've brought a lawsuit, we've won. and if they want to bring another one, we'll win again, to protect the good people of pennsylvania. maybe they need to stop listening to rudy giuliani so much. i think that may be one of their problems. >> pennsylvania's attorney
general josh shapiro. mr. shapiro, i know this is a tense time and an exciting one. thanks for helping us understand it, i really appreciate it. >> good to be with you, rachel, thank you. >> back to you, brian. >> indeed, this is a balance of walking and chewing gum. we have an ongoing drama in georgia as well. we want to go back to correspondent blayne alexander. behind her as we saw earlier, the people doing the thankless and exhaustive work of opening these ballots and flattening them out. blayne, how is it going in fulton county? >> reporter: brian, the numbers are going in the right direction. i got another update from officials in the county and they tell me they're down to 24,000 ballots that need to be counted. the people behind me are working at a pretty fast clip to get all of these absentee ballots
scanned and processed. when i spoke with the elections board chair 30 minutes or so ago, he tells me they could be here until 3:00 a.m. in the morning. i asked him realistically, do they plan to get it all done tonight, and he said absolutely. we're looking at 187,000 ballots in the state that need to be processed. so even though fulton county will get done tonight, other counties could be looking at a day or more. that's why we say all of this continues to be a moving target and i really can't underscore that enough. the latest timing that the secretary of state is giving us now is possibly sometime tomorrow. but i have to remind you that on election night, he told me that he was looking at having the results by the end of election night, and then it became noon today, then the end of the day. so, again, this target keeps moving. it comes down to what the count
looks like in the counties when they're completed. and then just to put a finer point on all of this, the numbers absolutely make a difference, because while there are about 107,000 outstanding ballots, the difference right now here in the state of georgia between president trump and former vice president biden is only about 39,000 votes. so it just shows you how thin things are. a number of ballots still to come inside and a lot to watch in georgia. >> blayne, thank you for that. to blayne's point, they're plowing through the work. they've counted 4,000 ballots since the last time we checked in with blayne alexander. we're still getting votes in from arizona. we are still awaiting results from nevada. again, a handful of states that, when we're done with this, will tell us which of these two men reaches 270. a break for us. live coverage continues at the top of the hour. p of the hour.
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and so we begin another hour of live coverage. and so we are 28 hours into our coverage of election night. the prize is 270. you see both men there. we have some tightening races. we have at least one news organization that has this race at 264 for biden. we have two news organizations that have called arizona for biden. we have done neither of those. we're at 253 for joe biden. but again, we have some narrowing races. the states that are going to decide this thing are nevada, arizona, georgia, pennsylvania, north carolina