The Breakdown - President Trump pressures Georgia’s officials to 'find' votes

Plus, Georgia voters sound off on the eve of the runoff election and how climate change has affected natural disasters this past year.
26:28 | 01/04/21

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Transcript for The Breakdown - President Trump pressures Georgia’s officials to 'find' votes
Yeah. Hi everyone happy new year and welcome to the breakdown I'm Diane Messina and and I'm Terry Moran and we want to get right to that stunning recorded phone call from president Donald Trump's. To the top election official in the state of Georgia in an hour long conversation over the weekend the president pressure Georgia's secretary of state Grand Rapids first. To quote find the votes trump would need to overturn Joseph Biden is certified and decisive victory Georgia here's part of that record. Well I wanted to do resist I just want to behind. An eleventh just 780. Pounds and love yeah one more way. We wanted to play I don't indeed 111000. Alison I need eleventh just and it breaks you know what they did get a recording it today you know about criminals. That's been giving you can't let that happen. Big grin stealing Iraqi. Young player that I think really. Earlier on Good Morning America we are directly from secretary rapist murder condemning the president's request even finding a rumor work home. Look pretty obvious very early on. We do doctor everyone knows there isn't enough there but the president trump and continue to believe what did you feel the pressure he said kind of votes. So. And we have to follow the process follow the law and so this revelation the president from behind the scenes efforts to get local officials to overturn their certified election results comes as Georgia and now gears up for two critical senate races. Tomorrow. Could determine who controls the senate. And of course the country watches those Georgia runoff sweetener for some voters in the state. On why they felt it was so important to vote in this election. I just feel like the others have the ability radical. And not just the Lebanon Georgette most of my outlined fined I want you to. Thank deciding that it be better yeah and I just don't know if there that if people. And again classic Alice in reluctantly little bit nuts again about his Dallas think it was just gonna happen again. I'm pastors say the man. Before that presidential election sit at your bank and today he said he didn't already decided he's at look at that flag over the years a man in a moment. God for that could give. You need to go on campus. So you have the rights of us have done them. Well I'll tell you as the it's going to be a close race but you know have voted did early voting and enough with the good turnout but then so I think that you know this race is going to be used to be close but I'm really think and that's one I've been on our house off again. Can put it off. And I think that we know we're going to take the drugs that decision yet it is that the tide is changing its Evans economics is open. Come on our seizes up. And a lot of people so I think casino is doing about the good thing. The voices as some other voters there in Georgia in these 20 senate ran off runoff races in for more on that. And on that recording a president trump pushing Georgia senator state to quote find getting the votes and overturned their certified election. We're happy to be joined by Georgia's Republican lieutenant governor Jeff Duncan. Lieutenant governor thanks very much for being with us I just wanna get your thoughts look we all heard it some of us have delved into the full hour long. Recording of the president's phone call with doesn't have stayed rations for gore was your reaction when you heard that coming from the president. I was disappointed. I don't think there's any other way to describe it for my perspective when I first heard it. First heard about it and then actually put my years on a disappointed for sure can't imagine anybody in the president's team with thought that was a good idea. But it is what it is it's another blow. To us here in Georgia another distraction but certainly. Kelly left learned David Perdue continue to work hard and then hopefully we've got enough Republicans can. Pushed through this and and show up tomorrow and I get them across finish Los. Well let me delve into that just a little bit this distraction that the president has been really calling into question the integrity of the entire election system in Georgia and other states and so you mentioned it as a distraction what kind of impact do you think this phone calls gonna happen. On Republicans who have might be disheartened by that Joseph Biden's victory there and now confused by everything gearing up social media and from the president of the United States. Well I did I do think it it you know who's gonna have a negative impact on hopefully it's not that the beginning it's gonna change the outcome of the Election Day and we can continue to push forward. But it's a continued narrative where you know certain some Republicans including the president have just decided to. To use that misinformation in the election fraud. You know conspiracy theories as as an excuse and quite honestly I don't think it helps a short term. Certainly doesn't help us long term as we try to figure out what went right the last four years and what can we improve on. In a GOP 2.0. And so look we're just gonna have to keep keep go to work. 36 more hours or roughly and I'm certainly gonna spend all that time trying to get voters to show for to vote for Kelly Davis. And elections are always about tomorrow as you say Republican. 2.0. The president's there what are you wanna hear from him tonight he's a great campaigner as he's demonstrated what do you expect to what do you want to hear from him tonight. Well I think if he stays focused on the accomplishments of his administration. And stays focused on the accomplishments of Kelly left for David Perdue is conservative senators. I think we got a great shot to continue to remind enough folks to show up to vote for them to win. That's important all this other you know business and garbage of misinformation is a distraction. It's a sideshow it does nothing is wasted energy. In in the big picture here in so I've my my hope is that we just spend. They spend their time focusing on talk about their accomplishments. So lieutenant governor of organ at the Georgia code title 21 of the elections section. Chapter two section 604 criminal solicitation to commit election fraud do you think. That responsible law enforcement officials in the state of Georgia should look into this call to see if any of your State's laws were violated. Well I'm certainly not a lawyer in so I'll let them make sure that they investigate all. The although the letter of the law as you just read what I will tell you as a Republican I do support law enforcement. And I think it's important reminders many folks across America that might have doubts or might have concerns or might have read some of this misinformation. That we've had our law enforcement it along this entire process we've had close certified investigators. The secretary of State's office at all Sorgi BIR Georgia bureau of investigators. Work with the signature audit process so we've had law enforcement with us every step of the way a proud of their efforts. Even though they got voted for didn't win I'm proud of the law enforcement efforts here and as a Republican the I'm very very product. And let let me ask you is it your rising politician in the state in Georgia what what does this say about our democracy what was it say about. The voters that did you are answerable to that you're gonna want to speak to going forward that so many of them. Are we are willing to believe that it's a sham our democracy. I think this is a great pivot point for us as a party. And as a country but a beautiful looking at a to a partisan lens this is a great pivot point for us to go back to the basics. Right we just spent four years validating that an outsider can come in and make big changes in Washington DC. But where we go from here you know where how can we get better at the policy how could we we be more empathetic to those we're trying to bring into the fold. And how we how we change our tone. We 280 searchers has just been a constant barrage of love love you know just continue continuing to beat people down I think we can do better supporting this is a pivot point I think we'll look back at this time. Can see it as an opportunity for us to go from here. Well that's optimistic more conversation. Blessed trinity maybe ask you finally so. What should the rest of the countries are looking at what happening in Georgia what should they know all about Georgia's election officials and how. How they've handled this presidential election. Yeah I'm proud to be on the team governor Tim secretary rafters burger ourselves our attorney general Chris Carr. And others 159 different counties working together have put on a fair legal election was a perfect I'm I'm certain that's not the case right every state every county always has opportunities to make improvements but we have put on a fair legal election. We have worked as hard as we possibly can to validate. Those results and we're gonna do that again tomorrow and certainly I want America. To its has to be proud of this election I want georgians to be proud of this election. And hopefully we can get through this in the on January 6 seven states what whichever day all the final results are tabulated we call wake up and turn the page and move on from here. Well let's hope Jeff Duncan the lieutenant governor of the state of Georgia thanks very much and good luck to you thank you sir. Thank you and so what potential legal ramifications of all of this ABC news political director Rick Klein an ABC news Supreme Court contributor Kate shop. Aren't here now to break down that angle for a syndicate first what does out to you. From this conversation between the president and Georgia's secretary of state what do you make of it from a legal standpoint. You know what it's it's a pretty shocking conversation I would say you know for folks who haven't had a chance to listen to it in its entirety. I'm not sure that the clips really do it justice is an hour long. Pressure campaign it. Cajoling and bullying. By the president of the United States directed asked state officials the secretary of state and that top lawyer for his office. And it's a pretty shocking thing to actually you know put your ear to. You know I wasn't around for the knicks in the smoking gun Oval Office tape but it strikes news. You know something basically in the same category at the present the most powerful person in the country. Using his position of power. To try to coerce subordinates and that's the state or federal. So it's it's sort of shocking from a political and historical perspective I'm. From from the perspective of where laws violated a mean it is certainly the case under both federal and state law including Georgia slot. I am attempting to solicit both or conduct. Election fraud. Is a crime scene and I do think it's interesting that in the conversation that you just had Terry with the lieutenant governor and I've heard on the secretary Jay Wright controversy is similar things. You know they're they're not closing the door to the possibility that there could be state investigation. Into the law fullness of this presidential conversation. You know there is under both federal and state law tradition of not investigating. Or not prosecuting a sitting president but of course this president's term will soon be over and ex presidents are certainly subject. Up to the criminal laws so it does seem as though there's at least a possibility of un investigation who knows how far would go on but that seems to be something that could be on the horizon. I guess you can't wait for that case actually number I'm kidding because that is. A very serious step as well in Watergate Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon nor to avoid it let me turn to Rick for a second. And and ask you about gets some Democrats are talking about impeachment. Donald Trump all over this realistically as prime not gonna happen but what are the consequences for Donald Trump is we're just talking about as a private citizen. The political legal down the road what do you think. For the biggest argument against that vision is probably the precedent that you just cited ebitda Mike Pence would be president I'd vote for both the closing days and he could issue that pardon. So I know those are not going to happen as you mentioned Terry I think the political consequences though this is a huge week for president trough. Find it did the Georgia run offs will be a key part of his legacy if those will run off go to the Democrats are Democrats take control of the senate. All lot of Republicans holding that's a direct result of the weight of presidential has handled themselves these last couple weeks off to and including that phone call with the secretary of state by focusing on the last election. He has lost the focus that Republicans want to have of the next election as you said earlier Terry. Elections are always about that future and I think it is a key gauge for how presidential is viewed his post presidency in 2041 and beyond. Whether the Republicans can hold onto raises the frankly they would be favored to win. Under normal circumstances and as separately the in the showdown Wednesday where a dozen Republican senators and at least a hundred. House Republicans plan on how pro testing the duly counted votes of the Electoral College. It's unprecedented to have that number of of folks objecting about they are not going to succeed but presidents cup is asking them to essentially engage in a pure loyalty test argue with me he is telling them or you with the facts for you with the traditions are you would go with the the very conservative vision that that existed before being and that's a major choice for Republicans however it ends. And Kate I want to touch on the phone call again for a second but also then get. To the the fallout over the election results you know if not impeachment. Kind of fallout could we see from this phone call the tune the president. And the Georgia secretary of state is there potential for investigations are criminal charges here. I do think that's possible and that could be either state or federal. Us so I think that's a live possibility anything would presumably wait until after January 20 but of course that's not very far off. And if I could just say one more thing about impeachment which is that you know impeachment actually. Isn't just for sitting federal officials there is precedent at least one early cabinet secretary was impeached after leaving office. I'm so it's at least in theory possible that the house could move to improve impeached. Former president trump not between now and January 20 but sometime after the twentieth and what will be the purpose of that wealth and won it would be symbolic presumably. But to impeachment in the federal system has two consequences one as it can leave if there's a conviction to removal from office. It can also lead to disqualification from future office holding so if somehow the house was able to impeach the president and the senate convicted him. They will be able to disqualify him from potentially at running for president in 20/20 four holding. Any other federal office. I'm so that's something that I don't think it's very likely in a card the next congress is going to be very busy on a number of other fronts but it's at least something that is out there so that we could see consequences. I you know either further efforts and impeachment or as you say some kind of criminal prosecution it's at least conceivable. K and kid let's turn from minute to this scene we're gonna see in the in the congress this week more than a 150 Republicans is Rick was talking about. They in congress are going to object to the electoral count on went on Wednesday this is stunt. Lawful under under electron I thought that's safe harbor deadline that we all talked about the December dead Monday that states have certified their elections congress. Must accept them. Was was rock solid well what's the case without an houses were constitutionally. So I think that the legal framework that you just reference Terry is the reason that this Africa can possibly be successful. Of the constitution and federal law me quite clear that you know the State's appoint electors every state gives their electors to the winner of the State's popular vote. And the clear winner of the popular vote in enough states department majority in Electoral College this year was Joseph Biden and so but he clearly one. In the electoral college and as you say that most states. Probably not Wisconsin but all the other states that matter did meet the safe harbor deadline so they've certified their votes by December if the votes for counts on December 14 so. What happens in congress on Wednesday historically is just been kind of a formality there's nothing really substantive about it. Those votes are just delivered in boxes of vice president opens the vote the votes count them and announces the winner. There have been objections. In past cycles by one or for a handful of members of one or both houses of congress typically to raise objections to things like. What transpired in Florida in the year 2000 or some objections to Ohio's election in the year 2004. But never anything alongside the lines or up the scope and scale that we are likely to see on Wednesday. But all the little look different from previous objections. That outcome will be the same there's not really any question. That congress at the end of the day and it could be very late in the day could be into the next day. Will formalize what has already occurred which is that Joseph Biden has been elected the next president but there could be a lot of hours of political theater. That pre see that kind of final pronouncement. And you know I do think all of this has the possibility of further eroding trust in our voting in our democracy and potentially has the goal. The administration of Joseph Biden but whatever happens on on Wednesday I think we can all feel confident that Joseph Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. All right Rick Klein in KH always a pleasure thank you. Funded group. And the new year has come with a grim new milestone for the US more than 350000. Lives have now been lost to -- nineteen. That means one in every 940. Americans have died from the virus. Experts warn the holidays could fuel another surge in cases as well. More than seventeen million people were screened a TSA checkpoints from December 18 through yesterday far more than expected. The CDC also reports that more than four point two million vaccines have been administered in the US so far. Which is far below the goal of twenty million by the end of 20/20. There is some good news on the pandemic and that is Santa Lindsay the first nurse in the US to get the Pfizer vaccine received her second shot earlier today. Meanwhile in the UK prime minister Boris Johnson has just announced a national lockdown in an effort to control and new variant of the virus. Britain administer the first doses of the Oxford and AstraZeneca is vaccine this morning. That vaccine is cheaper and easier to store than other approved vaccines would could be game changer. And harder to reach areas but again. Britain has seen more than 50000 new cases a day. For the past six days hence that new lockdown and there appears now in the US that we may follow. It is darkest before the dawn as they say we're gonna take a break in just over to Joseph Biden is going to be sworn in as president. He's bound to make combating climate change a top priority so when we come back how president Biden plans to stand that climate Carlo. And the small changes we all can make to our daily lives that could make a big difference is that. And welcome back sixteen days from now Joseph Biden will become the 46 president of the United States and that's because it did one of good Biden presidency we wanted to take a closer look. At his stated policy priorities like climate change that's what we begin. And the dramatic shift that's about to get under way in how we confronted by this team is promising to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a top national priority self. What's in Biden's plane and can we bend the climate curve. There's Devin Dwyer with more. After forty years of Donald Trump's hands off approach to climate. She piper says the horrors to his family are only getting worse. Over nineteen is it's a big problem for the country the economic situation. Around but. They're climate really news right up there beyond around and you at different. We first met piper when he came to congress in 2019 to demand action on climate change. By wait until I'm. I school like. That that point it's gonna be too late he's one of nearly two dozen young climate activists who've been suing the federal government alleging its contributing to a climate crisis and putting lives. At risk. US carbon emissions which contribute to global warming have been on the decline last year reaching the lowest levels since 1992. This year they'll dip even lower thanks to reduced economic activity during the pandemic. Our regulations are meaningful. Received reductions in greenhouse gases. And now. You know should we go further. We're going to the extent that the law allows us to go with the agency and outgoing EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler says the country's polluting less thank even as she rolled back the dozens of environmental regulations including fuel efficiency standards for cars and truck. The minister wheelers right and 120 US greenhouse gas emissions will be substantially lower than they weren't twenty neck team. But that's not because progress that the drug administration has made in reducing emissions that's because we have the largest economic recession and a generation and so that's not exactly asked. It cause for celebration. You doing knowledge that climate change is a problem it's just a matter of priority. Well we are certainly do a lot here in the United States Britain are a lot of the problem of the greenhouse gases is as a worldwide issues China is the world's biggest polluter but the US is number two. And experts see the rate of decline in US carbon emissions has slowed dramatically. And remains well below what's needed to stave off catastrophic climate impacts. President trump rolled back major carbon controls including rules on power plant emissions and methane leaks from oil and gas wells. The five biggest rule changes combined could add one point eight billion metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2035. If they're not reversed. That's more than the combined emissions of Germany Britain and Canada in one year. His role backs combine. Have already animal continued troops ought to significantly and gas atmosphere. Further increasing global temperatures and global calls. President elect Joseph Biden insist the science is clear did damage from climate change is already here. Vowing to rejoin the Paris climate accord on day one in naming a team of top climate advocates. Including former secretary of state John Kerry is special climate envoy former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy as domestic climate Sar and North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Reagan to lead the EPA. Biden plans to push major new investment in renewable energy pass congress to set targets to reach a net zero emissions by 2050 and restore tighter fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks. In one open question is how aggressive lied movie a debate brewing among Democrats is young activists like Ozzie piper and promised to keep the pressure on. It feels like going for the long hall like do. We need. For ABC news live I'm Devin Dwyer in Washington and. And we thank Devin Dwyer for that report. And I let's bring in chief meteorologist ginger Z for more on this ginger twice when he was a record breaking year for wildfires and hurricanes had a climate change fuel those disasters. Yeah I mean we known that you can't just tie one event to climate change what we do know is you can say climate change. Is more extremes happening more closely together and boy did we ever see that this year from Australia to our wildfires California more than doubled. Their largest wildfire acreage burned so it was one point eight we burn almost four point two just in California alone Colorado. Three largest wildfires of all time. It happened this year now you look at the Atlantic Ocean and you had thirty named storms that's something we have never seen before in recorded history. And you'll notice when we caught all the tracks there was so much action. For right to the gulf coast's player was Lake Charles, Louisiana got hit twice. This year. By two hurricanes that just doesn't happen as often and while the physical media rounds at least let a sensor data sheet to the globe heat fuels warmer water warmer water fuels hurricanes. There's another couple of theories that we're looking at it really starts makes cents Wednesday with near the north pulls cold the equator is hot. Between the two they want to equalize its and that's how we get our jet stream when that warm air tries to get to the cold air. Jet stream is that. The kind of fast moving tunnel of air that blocks the cold it's usually quite dynamic but what we've been seeing and what doctor Jennifer France's thinks is that the jet stream has become. Where is a little more lazy and it allows hurricanes for example links Laurence. Therefore. More extreme. And ginger when you look at the big question of how do we fix this how important is federal policy in all of that. You know individual responsibility and always say is number one but we need policy and therefore you can see a couple of things to let me take you through a few these maps just to break down what we're seeing here still. When you've got the warmer. Air Friday the warming temperatures people automatically say our earth has always gone through cycles plus there are a lot of other variables she asked the orbital changes the word the son or a volcano is or should. Lee and use a lower ozone I can keep going because people will put all of that on there at the end of the day. This is not about belief the science has concluded. Greenhouse gases are responsible. We are responsible feet industrial revolution of our planet. Is responsible for this rapid change and that's something we have not seen in any of disciples tell you cosmetology. Can tell us that it is. Yes when you see these in Mexican seemed daunting so how can you and I. Make a difference in our everyday lives right now. I think making the sustainability. Of fashionable and who one way and I don't mean just that this dress is made of sustainable materials but it is. I'm making choices like I had changed from the middle plastic jug to admit this is actually laundry detergent. Obviously a lot less shipping carbon. Yes he just throw it and when the sub goes there are options out there I have gotten my husband the lover of paper towels to use the on paper towel. An anti joking but make think about it as if it was the eighteen hundreds before we learned of the convenience of making paper to lower now than we had handkerchief seen edges making sustainability. Look cool I mean wait till my neighbors see what I'm not doing our yard grass no more from Franklin. Changes name making sustainability look cool every day thanks injured. And that does it for the breakdown I'm Diane Macedo. And I'm Terry Moran what's you back here at 3 PM eastern tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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