'This Week' Transcript 11-15-20: Adm. Brett Giroir, Dr. Atul Gawande, John Bolton, Jeh Johnson, Jon Ossoff
This is a rush transcript for "This Week," airing Sunday, November 15.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 15, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We are already beginning the transition. We're well under way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: President-elect Joe Biden charging ahead, President Trump still refusing to acknowledge defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever happens in the future -- who knows which administration it will be.
QUESTION: When will you accept you lost the election, sir?
BIDEN: I just think it's an embarrassment, quite frankly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The administration stonewalling the transfer of power, sparking growing concern about the threat to national security.
And COVID cases hit all-time highs, new restrictions in place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I'm announcing a two-week freeze for the entire state.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We have to stop a second wave from happening here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: We cover it all this morning with Admiral Brett Giroir from the White House Task Force and Dr. Atul Gawande, now advising the Biden team, plus former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on the lack of White House cooperation.
And with all eyes on Georgia, the Senate majority hanging in the balance, we talk to Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
Three hundred and six to 232, that is where the Electoral College stands, with projections now in for all 50 states and D.C., Joe Biden with the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump claimed victory with four years ago. At the time, Trump called it a landslide.
And, as we come on the air this morning, after refusing to accept the results, the president seems closer to admitting he lost, Trump tweeting that his opponent won because -- quote -- "The election was rigged."
But he did use the word won, although he has not conceded, and the president continues to spread falsehoods without evidence.
It comes as his administration stalls the transition process. A growing number of Republicans have come out in support of Biden receiving the intelligence briefings traditionally afforded to presidents-elect. Trump's actions have the potential to affect the country long after he leaves office, whether he admits defeat or not, likely to make it harder to bring together a nation Joe Biden has promised to unite.
RADDATZ (voice-over): While the president-elect has been calling for unity...
BIDEN: This election is over. It's time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric that's designed to demonize one another.
RADDATZ: ... it's not going to be easy, as the president refuses to concede and continues to inflame his 70-million-plus voters with the false message that the election was rigged.
TONY ESPOSITO, OHIO VOTER: I will never accept Joe Biden as president. I mean, if that's your question, that's my answer. I just don't believe that he's right for our country.
RADDATZ: And you think Donald Trump has won?
ESPOSITO: Absolutely, I do. I mean, for me to believe that Joe Biden got 78 million votes, got the most votes of any president ever in the history of a voting, I find that very hard to believe.
GENO DEFABIO, OHIO VOTER: That's never going to be accepted. It's never going to be accepted.
RADDATZ: On a quintessential late fall afternoon in a middle-class neighborhood in Youngstown, Ohio, I talked to Geno DeFabio, Tony Esposito and Laird Eric Wells.
Geno and Tony were Democrats until 2016.
ESPOSITO: We always said that, if we ever had a person that talked just like us and that ran for president or ran for an office, we were voting for that person. And that's what Trump is.
RADDATZ: As Trump continues to baselessly declare he won the election, that's all they need to hear.
ESPOSITO: It was a recipe for disaster when they decided to have these mail-in votes. I don't think there's any way of proving the person that mailed that in is the person that actually did it.
RADDATZ: You look at what secretaries of state have said, they have seen no evidence of massive fraud.
LAIRD ERIC WELLS, OHIO VOTER: From my vantage point, I have -- there's too many smoke and mirrors in terms of ballots appearing here, reappearing there, disappearing here, this, that and the third. Where there's smoke, there's fire.
When we deal with globalists and liberalism, I would put absolutely nothing past them. There's no way. It just doesn't -- doesn't smell right, too many irregularities.
RADDATZ: And even though Trump's own Homeland Security Department is calling this the most secure election in history, mother of four Carrie Pascal (ph) also believes the election was rigged.
CARRIE PASQUALE, OHIO VOTER: He was winning. It goes into nighttime. All of a sudden, you wake up the next day, and the state that was red is now blue.
RADDATZ: So many people voted absentee, which is one of the reasons all the votes came in late. But you just don’t trust those votes?
PASQUALE: They kept finding them. It’s like how come you’re finding them here, finding them there? You weren't finding them in big Republican districts.
It just seemed kind of crazy that everything that seemed to come in -- how is it 100 percent Biden?
RADDATZ: She gets along with her neighbor Mike Hall (ph), a Navy veteran and Biden supporter, when they don't talk politics. But he worries Carrie (ph) and many other Trump supporters will never be swayed by Biden.
MIKE HALL, OHIO VOTER: Can he bring the country together? I think he can do a heck of a lot better job at it than the current president is doing for sure. But one man is not going to heal this country. There's just too much divide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: And here to talk about that divide, Former National Security Adviser to President Trump, Ambassador John Bolton. Good morning, Ambassador.
You just heard what those voters said about this election. More than 72 million are not seeing the outcome they wanted and the nation really is deeply divided. There were thousands of Trump supporters marching in D.C. yesterday.
How does your party, the Republican Party, address that?
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think it's very important for leaders of the Republican Party to explain to our voters, who are not as stupid as the Democrats think, that in fact Trump has lost the election and his claims of election fraud are baseless.
The fact is that we've seen litigation in all the key battleground states and it has failed consistently. Right now the Trump campaign is doing the legal equivalent of pitching pennies. Where are their silver dollars? Where is the evidence?
I think as every day goes by, it's clearer and clearer there isn't any evidence. But if the Republican voters are only hearing Donald Trump's misrepresentations, it's not surprising that they believe it.
It's critical for other Republican leaders to stand up and explain what actually happened. Donald Trump lost what by any evidence we have so far was a free and fair election.
RADDATZ: But you haven't seen that from Republican leaders. Very few of them are accepting those results.
So what happens? I mean you can talk about that all you want, but they're not doing it.
BOLTON: Well, I think they're getting ready to do it. I’ve said I think this is a character test for the Republican Party.
I don't buy the argument that Donald Trump has hypnotized Republican voters or they're not capable of accepting the truth. This is a myth that's being perpetrated that's simply not true. But it requires people to explain what happened.
The Trump campaign simply has no evidence. Their basic argument is this was a conspiracy so vast and so successful that there's no evidence of it. Now if that's true, I really want to know who the people are who pulled this off. We need to hire them at the CIA.
The fact is this is all blue smoke and mirrors. I think people will accept that if they see leaders they respect explain it to them.
RADDATZ: Probably not those voters I talked to.
But you worked for President Trump. You know his demeanor and temperament. What do you make of his refusal to concede this race?
BOLTON: Well, if he had any character, I would say it's perfectly in character. It displeases him when reality doesn't conform to the image that he has of it.
I do not expect him to go graciously. I do expect him to go. But I think pretty soon we'll get the stab in the back theories. We'll get the dark conspiracy theories continued. And he will make life as difficult as he can for the incoming Biden administration.
I think that harms the country. I’ve been through five separate transitions and I know how difficult it is coming in and going out. And every day that he delays under the pretense that he's simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country's disadvantage, certainly in the national security space, and I think given (ph) the coronavirus pandemic and the effective distribution of the vaccine and a range of other things as well.
So this is something he needs to get over. And, again, I just think it requires Republicans to explain that in the nature of things we need a transition and we should proceed with it as soon as we can.
RADDATZ: Let's talk about national security. You say it is a danger. Biden has not received that daily presidential briefing.
Do you believe that is a real national security concern?
BOLTON: Well, I think it goes beyond that. Look, Trump doesn't pay any attention to the daily briefings either which will -- it will be a plus for the country when we have a president who actually cares to know what's going on in the rest of the world.
But it's much more complicated than just the president. The national security decision making process is cumbersome. Everybody agrees with that. There are a lot of different perspectives and a lot of different information that has to be considered.
So, really, the whole transition process itself at the State Department, at the Defense Department, at Homeland Security, in the intelligence community, really across the whole government, not just for the transition team to be sure they understand the issues that the new administration will face, but to move forward with the selection process for cabinet secretaries, White House advisers, the teams at various departments, this nomination and confirmation process is already beyond description in how lengthy and time-consuming and hard it is to do.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: Ambassador, I want to -- I want to --
BOLTON: Just like in the --
RADDATZ: I want to talk about what the president did this week, that purging at the Pentagon, at the NSA, at Homeland Security. What do you think he's up to? Is this trying to get troops out of Afghanistan rapidly? Is this a planned strike on Iran? What do you think he's up to and how dangerous or not is that?
BOLTON: Well, the primary motivation is personal peak. I hope that's right. There are rumors about other things, perhaps creating facts on the ground for the Obama administration -- sorry, Freudian slip -- for the Biden administration, by withdrawing Trumps in Afghanistan, releasing documents relating to the Russia collusion charge. It's hard to say.
But it's destructive. I mean, when you decapitate the Office of the Secretary of Defense with less than ten weeks to go in the administration, really it’s -- it's very damaging, not just for the current administration, but for the incoming administration as well.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Ambassador Bolton. Always great to see you.
BOLTON: Thanks for having me.
RADDATZ: And joining me now is Jeh Johnson, the homeland security secretary under President Obama.
Secretary Johnson, I know you just heard what Ambassador Bolton said. What concerns do you have about the purge at the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, NSA? And how does the incoming Biden team need to address that?
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I'm greatly concerned, Martha. And thanks for having me on.
The Pentagon is typically an island of stability in our U.S. government. To see the secretary of defense fired just weeks before he would have left office anyway is greatly concerning and I'm quite sure it's concerning to our -- our military leadership. We can all speculate about the reasons for it. If it's got something to do with Afghanistan, the president needs to recognize that battlefield reality doesn't often comport with a political calendar. If he wants troops out of Afghanistan, as I know most Americans do, we have to do it in a way that makes sense, in an orderly manner, and that comports with battlefield reality.
And, you know, Donald Trump, the dealmaker, should also appreciate that in trying to strike a deal, you don't unilaterally surrender your greatest point of leverage by unilaterally withdrawing troops before the Afghan government and the Taliban have stuck a deal.
So this is very concerning and if I were in the Biden transition team right now, I'd be very focused as priority A on restoring stability in our national security.
RADDATZ: And -- and how crucial is this period of presidential transition? Biden has said it's, for example, it's not critical for him to have access to classified intelligence right now because there is nothing he can act on. What -- what's your opinion on that?
JOHNSON: Martha, a new government cannot start on January 20 from a standing still position. This is what transitions are for. Intelligence briefings, PDBs, when you're in office, in national security, are your eyes and ears.
And, respectfully, the -- the media, what we read in newspapers and the like is simply so that we understand how the media is covering what we know to be reality. Intelligence briefings are your eyes and ears and President Trump himself should appreciate that.
During the transition four years ago, I personally visited Trump Tower to tell him things before he became president that I thought he ought to hear directly from the secretary of Homeland Security. And I know he appreciated it.
So, it's a disservice to the American public. It's a disservice to our national security to make the incoming government wait until January 20 to actually begin to get up to speed on a myriad of issues.
RADDATZ: Let -- let's talk about the division in the country.
You heard those voters as well. You were Homeland Security secretary. How should Biden's homeland security team address these kinds of bitter division? I want to give you one more factoid here. In the first year of Barack Obama's term, the number of anti-government patriot groups more than tripled according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
So what do you do about these divisions and what do you do about these groups?
JOHNSON: Martha, this is going to be a top priority for a Biden administration. Our nation is divided right now and there are over 70 million people bitterly disappointed in the election result. This is going to be a time for healing.
When I was in office as secretary of Homeland Security, I made a point of talking to all groups. I made a point of visiting, for example, Arizona ranchers on our southern border who were upset about border security, so that they would understand all the things that the Department of Homeland Security was doing on their behalf. It's the instinct of Joe Biden, I know from a number of years in public office, to try to bridge the divide, to try to heal the rift that exists in our nation right now. And I'm quite sure that he will make that a priority. And I hope that he puts in place people in the Department of Homeland Security who will do the same thing and follow that lead.
RADDATZ: Well, let's -- let's talk about putting people in place.
As you well know, it's been widely reported that you are a candidate on the short list for the Biden administration, possibly secretary of defense. I know you don't want to lobby for the job, but what do you think you would bring to that job and would you accept it if offered?
JOHNSON: Well, Martha, I've been in public service four separate times now. I'm in private life. I'm enjoying private life.
If asked to take on certain positions in government, I'd certainly seriously consider it. I've been appointed to Senate confirmed positions three times in national security. And as a patriotic American, I'd have to seriously consider anything.
But I've had a range of experience in -- in national security and if I don’t' serve in a Biden administration, I'd, of course, be pleased to advise whoever is serving.
RADDATZ: OK. And thank you very much for your comments this morning, Secretary Johnson. Good luck to you.
Up next, two key members of the teams fighting the coronavirus, Admiral Brett Giroir and Dr. Atul Gawande of the president-elect's COVID advisory team, we'll ask them both what it will take to get a surging coronavirus back under control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.: We're still facing a very dark winter. The projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more lives in the coming months before a vaccine can be made widely available.
So we can't forego the important work that needs done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet in this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President-elect Biden there on Monday, warning of the dark winter ahead as the U.S. sets records nearly every day for new coronavirus cases.
This past week alone nearly 1 million people in this country were diagnosed with the virus. And just yesterday the nation surpassed 245,000 COVID-19 deaths.
But as I spoke with Americans in the aftermath of the election, I found many who continue to downplay the pandemic.
RADDATZ: Do you not wear a mask because Donald Trump hasn't made it...
UNKNOWN: No, absolutely not. No. Because that's -- that's -- that's -- I just don't believe in them.
UNKNOWN: Same thing with me. I mean, can the masks really defend a microbe coming through the -- the weaving of the fiber? I, kind of, doubt it. I really doubt it.
RADDATZ: Do you guys just not believe the scientists on this?
UNKNOWN: No, I believe COVID -- COVID is real. And COVID is absolutely real. I just -- like I said, I just lost my cousin. You know, I never thought that the disease was worth all the precautions and everything that went down as far as shutting down the country.
UNKNOWN: Even though you're worried about this virus, how do you feed your family?
I'm more worried about that than I am about catching something that has, like, what is it, a 97.95 percent survival rate. Wash your hands. Eat well. You know, take your probiotics and your vitamins. You know, just do what we do during cold and flu season and just pray for the best.
RADDATZ: With those comments in mind, we turn now to two experts on the pandemic, Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force; and Dr. Atul Gawande, who was named this week to President-Elect Bidenâ€™s COVID-19 Advisory Board.
And I want to begin with you, Admiral Giroir. The news on a vaccine is so encouraging, but right now, as we said, weâ€™re hitting those grim numbers, some health experts calling the pandemic in the United States a humanitarian disaster.
The president has been downplaying the seriousness of it, and you heard those Trump supporters. So you can have those constant reminders; you can tell them to wear a mask, but things are getting worse. So what in the world do you do?
ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, MEMBER OF THE WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: So thank you for having me on, Martha. And as you did point out, we had some remarkably positive news about a potential vaccine that’s over 90 percent effective. And that is a game-changer. It will bring an end game to the pandemic.
However, we really are in a critical situation today, with over 180,000 cases yesterday, hospitalizations up, mortality up.
But I want to tell the American people that we know what to do. We've done it many times before in the Sunbelt, in the South. The United Kingdom is doing that. And that is, you must physically distance. When you cannot physically distance everybody needs to wear a mask in public spaces. That's absolutely critically important. They do work.
We're going to have to do things like limit attendance or close bars, close in-door restaurants, because that's very important. If we do these things, combined with the testing that we have, we can flatten the curve. If we do not do these things, the cases will continue to go up.
The United Kingdom just did these things. They kept the schools open. They kept major businesses open. We can do that. But we have to do the other things. If we do that, we'll flatten the curve, slow the spread, and get us to that time when we have a vaccine. And it's not very far off.
We could have 20 million doses by the end of November. Another 20 million by the end of December.
RADDATZ: But, Admiral, I just want to say again -- and I have been across the country -- and it is remarkable how in certain places, and I will say red states, they're not wearing masks.
What do you do about that? How does that affect a curve everybody else might want to flatten?
GIROIR: We all have to communicate very clearly that the science is clear, the evidence is overwhelming, whether you want to look at microbiological data or you want to look at epidemiology, city by city, state by state, country by country, that masks do work.
They're highly protective against you spreading it to someone else. And we also know that it provides you protection from getting it from someone else.
It's not just a little microbe. It's the droplets which the microbes hitch a ride on. So, across the board, whether these are local mandates, whether these are voluntary, whether these are public service messages, we have to have the American people wear a mask when you can't physically distance.
We're going to have to limit that indoor spread by limiting bars and restaurants, which are places where you're indoors, you're not masked, and we know that there can be significant transmission.
We don't have to close schools. We don't have to close major industries. But we are going to have to be careful around the holiday time, because even a large gathering within your household can be a way that it can spread.
And if you just Google CDC holiday gatherings, there's some very easy tips to keep your family safe during the holidays.
RADDATZ: Admiral, we know who is not shouting that message to the American public, and that is Donald Trump.
"The Washington Post" is reporting this morning that the president has not attended a Coronavirus Task Force meeting in at least five months. Is that accurate?
GIROIR: That's true.
But the vice president does chair the Coronavirus Task Force. The vice president -- we often have several Cabinet members there. And the vice president briefs the president every day or nearly every day on coronavirus.
So, I'm not concerned that the president doesn't attend. The vice president is there. Secretary Azar, the leadership that's there, the scientific community, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, myself, Dr. Hahn, Dr. Redfield, we're all working, and the docs work literally every single day together.
We have put out over 50 million of the card-based tests, another 8.5 million this week.
RADDATZ: Admiral, I want to...
GIROIR: ... monoclonal antibody...
RADDATZ: Sorry to interrupt you on that. We're just short on time here.
RADDATZ: The head of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, who stood by the president on Friday, is calling on the White House to allow his team to make contact with the Biden COVID transmission team, which is being held up by the president, who's not accepting the election results.
Do you agree they should be given access and talk to the Biden COVID team?
GIROIR: So, I'm not Dr. Slaoui
I can say, from my point of view, that the GSA controls the transition process. My team, all the docs that work for us, we want to be extremely transparent. We are extremely transparent with the media, with outside experts, with public health experts, some of which are actually on team Biden advisers.
RADDATZ: But would it be -- is it important to be able to talk to the Biden team at this point, just a yes or no?
GIROIR: Look, I want to be as transparent as possible with everybody. This is not a political issue. This is an issue of public health and saving American lives. And I think there's nothing more important than that.
Thank you very much, Admiral.
And we want to bring in Dr. Atul Gawande.
Dr. Gawande, good to see you.
You heard what he just said about that. How important is that transition?
DR. ATUL GAWANDE, BIDEN COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: It's important.
Look, working with the transition team, they are -- I'm advising them, and they are -- they're ready to go, and are getting all the information they can.
RADDATZ: You're talking about the Biden transition team, obviously.
GAWANDE: It's -- it is in the nation’s interest that the Transition Team get the threat assessments that the team knows about, the -- understand the vaccine distribution plans, need to know where the stockpiles are, what the status is of masks and gloves. There’s a lot of information that needs to be transmitted. It can’t wait until the last minute.
You can hear in Admiral Giroir’s voice the doctors and scientists want to give us that information, it is vital.
RADDATZ: And what do you believe needs to be done to stop this surge? And you also, I believe, heard those voters saying, look, I don’t believe it. What needs to be done that has not been done in this administration?
DR. GAWANDE: Well, number one is a clear voice from the top backing the national comprehensive plan. And we’ve lacked that. It’s led to disarray for the public and confusing messages. That will change.
I think number two is mask wearing, as Admiral Giroir says, this is -- that the evidence is overwhelming that this can stop and reverse the spread.
What I would say and I want to say to those citizens is simply that when a person goes into a store and does not wear a mask, when they go to a public gathering and they’re not wearing a mask, they’re hurting everyone’s freedom. They are putting people in danger.
Moreover they are turning people away from shops and stores and that’s hurting jobs. That is the critical mix of things.
Opposing masks is like opposing washing hands, it’s not political. We can pull together. We can do this.
RADDATZ: And Dr. Gawande, just quickly if you will, I want to clear this up since another member of the Task Force suggested there could be a four to six week shutdown nationwide. Is there a scenario where that could happen?
DR. GAWANDE: We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown and believe there is not a scenario unless -- there simply isn’t a scenario because we can get this under control.
The critical parts are understanding what we’ve learned since we did a nationwide lockdown in early April. And that is that you can have targeted measures building on mask-wearing to include widespread testing, to include dialing up and down capacity restrictions, and those measures need to happen in a more localized basis.
You can look at New York City, for example, where on a zip code-by-zip code basis you can deploy different restrictions in order to get the virus under control. And it’s quite effective. We do not need to go into a nationwide shelter-in-place shutdown.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us this morning Dr. Gawande. Always good to see you.
And we’ll be right back.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Which U.S. president won the popular vote by the widest margin?
Richard Nixon in 1972 by 17,995,488 votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (November 7, 1972): In terms of what a victory really is, a huge landslide margin, means nothing at all unless it is a victory for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CO-ANCHOR: The balance of power in the Senate will come down to Georgia. So can Democratic Challenger Jon Ossoff pull off the win? He joins us, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Make no mistake, we are the firewall, not just for the U.S. Senate but the future of our country.
SEN. DAVID PERDUE, (R)-GA.: We proved to the rest of the country that Georgia is not turning blue.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D)-GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Georgia is well on its way to solidifying its status as a blue state. Joe Biden will need a lot -- a lot of help in the Senate.
JON OSSOFF, (D)-GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: We are invigorated in Georgia. We need to be able to govern. And that comes down to these two races here in Georgia.
RADDATZ: All eyes are on Georgia, where two run-off races will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Let's talk to one of the four contenders for those crucial Senate seats, Democrat Jon Ossoff. He's hoping to unseat Republican Senator David Perdue, who we invited on the program and hope to have on this week, soon.
I want to start with the president, Jon Ossoff, is up tweeting already about Georgia and many other things. He says, "Doing a great job in Georgia. Their recount is a scam, means nothing. Must see fraudulent signatures, which is prohibited by stupidly signed and unconstitutional consent decree."
Want to give me a reaction to that?
OSSOFF: Well, Martha, good morning. Thank you for having me. And I suppose they say the first stage is denial.
Trump is leaving, whether he knows it or not. And the question now is how we're going to contain this pandemic which is raging out of control, which is spreading at an accelerating rate.
There are hundreds of thousands of lives hanging in the balance. There are millions of jobs and homes and livelihoods hanging in the balance.
And that's why it's so important to win these two Senate races so that the incoming presidential administration can govern, can lead, can enact the solutions necessary to contain this virus and invest in economic recovery.
RADDATZ: You know, Joe Biden got nearly 100,000 more votes than you in Georgia. What do you think that was about, and how do make up that gap between now and January?
OSSOFF: Well, we saw a little bit of drop-off from the top of the ticket. We saw a few votes go to the Libertarian candidate in the Senate race. But this was the closest Senate race in the country, Martha.
And that really reflects the power of Black turnout here, the determination of Black voters in Georgia to make a change in this country.
Georgia's Black community has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. Georgia's Black community is demanding access to affordable healthcare, demanding civil rights legislation, to secure criminal justice reform.
And, look, Georgians are about to celebrate Thanksgiving without family. Georgians are looking at a future that has continued to be threatened by the spread of this virus and a very uncertain economic scenario.
After four years of division that's been corrosive to our national soul, we're seeing record-breaking turnout in Georgia from voters who are demanding change, who are demanding competent, honest leadership out of this crisis.
RADDATZ: And yet, your opponent, David Perdue, outran you by 90,000 votes, nearly matching President Trump's vote total.
OSSOFF: It doesn't worry me at all, Martha. First of all, we are currently organizing and running the largest voter registration and turnout effort in American history.
For example, there are 23,000 young people here in Georgia who will be become eligible to vote just between the November election and this January 5th run-off.
And a decade of organizing, much of this work led by Stacey Abrams, has put the wind in our sails here in Georgia. What we're feeling for the first time in four years is hope, is recognition that, with Trump departing, we have the opportunity to define the next chapter in American history, to lead out of this crisis -- but only by winning these Senate seats.
The GOP at the national level has no leader, has no message and has no vision other than stopping Joe Biden. But we are in a crisis; we need leadership; we need to make sure that Joe Biden can govern and this administration is successful.
RADDATZ: You know, I want to go back to -- to Joe Biden. He obviously has been projected the winner in Georgia. We know there's that audit under way, but it appears the margin of victory will remain quite slim, about 14,000 votes.
Given that narrow margin, is this about an aversion to Donald Trump or enthusiasm for Joe Biden?
OSSOFF: There's massive enthusiasm for Joe Biden here. And look, Joe Biden just unseated an incumbent president by the most significant popular vote margin for a challenger since Hoover was defeated by Roosevelt in 1932.
And that hope that I was just talking about, that feeling that we have the opportunity now to heal our nation's soul after four years of hatred and fear-mongering and division; to empower medical experts to lead us out of this pandemic; to invest in infrastructure and clean energy and economic recovery; and to enact a broader program, a new Civil Rights Act, establishing healthcare as a human right for all people in this country.
This is where we're headed as a country. And Georgians are excited to be part of it.
We recognize that these races in Georgia have national implications. I just finished a seven-city, four-day tour, and the enthusiasm here is off the charts.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us, and best of luck to you. Good to see you.
The roundtable is up next. We're back in 60 seconds.
RADDATZ: And let's bring in the powerhouse roundtable now, ABC News White House correspondent Rachel Scott, AP Washington bureau chief Julie Pace, and our senior national correspondent, Terry Moran.
And, Julie, I want to start with you.
We began this program with a tweet by Donald Trump. And it seemed like he was moving towards saying he lost, because he said, "He won," referring to Joe Biden, we assume, "because the election was rigged."
Well, just a short time ago, he tweeted ago. And this time, he said: "Rigged election. We will win." And that was followed by: "He only won in the eyes of the fake news media. I concede nothing."
So, what do you make of that, Julie? Was that just an accident where he said he won? Did he not mean to say that? Or is it just a typical day in tweet world?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS DC BUREAU CHIEF AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it seems like a typical day in tweet world, with some big consequences.
This is the second time in a couple of days that we have seen the president really inch up to the line in publicly acknowledging what we all know and what we know the president knows privately, which is that Joe Biden has won, because he won the most number of states and the most number of Electoral College votes, not because the election is rigged.
The president wants to keep pushing that message, though, because he wants to keep this base of loyal supporters, who have been there for him for so many years on his side, largely for whatever comes next.
But there are real consequences to him not acknowledging Biden's victory publicly. One, the transition cannot move forward. And there are national security implications to that.
But, two -- and those voters who talked to Martha were so powerful on this point earlier -- there are millions of Americans around this country who are not going to accept Joe Biden as a legitimate president. And that is dangerous.
RADDATZ: And, Rachel, is Donald Trump the only one in the White House who thinks he still might win, even if he actually does believe that?
Do you think he really believes that? Julie doesn't.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, I think the president himself knows that he has lost this election, but still wants to fight it tooth and nail.
And advisers close to the president also have contended with the fact that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. I think you have two groups around the president right now. You have one group that doesn't want him to wave the white flag just yet. They want him to energize the president's base.
And then you have this other group that is looking at those projected wins for Joe Biden in Arizona and Georgia. They're looking at the Department of Homeland Security that called this the most secure election in American history.
And they're also looking at those four states where judges just this past week threw out the president's post-election lawsuits because they did not have credible evidence of widespread voter fraud.
They are seeing the writing on the wall and the fact that Joe Biden has cemented a presidential victory with 306 projected electoral votes, the same number, by the way, that President Trump got in 2016. Back then, Martha, he called that a landslide.
RADDATZ: And, Terry, give us the reality check on legal challenges, whatever they may be, that Trump keeps talking about.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rachel just said, look, the president claiming the election is rigged is a lie. It's a lie.
And we can say that because, in our country, we test claims like that in court, under rules of evidence developed over centuries to distinguish truth from falsehood, hearsay and authentication of evidence and materiality and relevance and things like that. And there's an adversarial process. And, at the end of the day, you figure out what happened.
In almost every single case -- he's brought more than 20 cases, he and his supporters alleging some kind of fraud, judges, state and federal, Republican, Democrat, have almost unanimously thrown these cases out instantly with scorn. What's remarkable in reading some of these judicial opinions, including by Trump appointees, that they dismiss these cases just saying there's no credible evidence, that it’s sinister guess work.
It's stitching a web of conspiracy theory, and no eye witness testimony that holds up under the most minimal legal examination. We prove these things in court. He hasn't. He's lying.
RADDATZ: And let's bring in “The New Yorker's” Evan Osnos. We have some technical difficulties earlier. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning author from “The New Yorker” and also the author of a brand new biography on Joe Biden, “The Life, The Run and What Matters Now”.
And, Evan, you describe Donald Trump as leading these past four years in the register of force. Explain that and what that means going forward.
EVAN OSNOS, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: You know, from the very beginning of this administration, he has believed if you can't persuade people, well then you can try to bully them. You can try to prevail over them. And that's really where we are in this process.
You know, the vote counts are clear. The lawsuits are clear. As you just heard from Terry, he's losing in the courts. And so, what he’s trying to do is now go to the public.
I’m reminded these days of the works of his late lawyer and mentor, Roy Cohn, who used to say, don't tell me what the law says, tell me who the judge is. In this case, Donald Trump is saying I’m going to go to the judge of public opinion because he knows that the facts are against him.
And so, there is not just the question -- really, look, the fact is it's clear what's going to happen on January 20th, that Joe Biden is going to take the presidency. But Donald Trump right now is bidding for something else which is to try to establish a narrative that will give him a life beyond the presidency. And the stakes for that are enormous, because they represent the credibility of American democracy.
RADDATZ: And, Julie, let’s talk about the Hill. As you know, very few Republicans have admitted that Joe Biden won. You just heard John Bolton say he thinks Republicans are getting ready to come forward and say Joe Biden won the election.
Are you seeing any evidence of that?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: We saw a little bit of movement towards the end of last week where we saw some Republican senators, even if they didn't acknowledge Biden's victory, saying that it was time for him to start getting intelligence briefings. That is a recognition on their part of the national security risks of incoming president not having a full picture of what is going on with our adversaries.
And you also saw I think notably some Republicans in key states around the country starting to accept the reality of this election. I do think you'll start to see some movement this week, a few more Republicans coming forward. But notably, the leaders of the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy are still in lockstep with the president. I think we want to look for this week on what they are saying to the president, though, privately. Are they pushing him to start accepting reality so that they can feel comfortable doing the same?
RADDATZ: And, Terry, let's talk about Joe Biden. He isn't taking the bait on any of this. He's just charging ahead.
MORAN: He is. He doesn't want to get in the muck of what we have lived through for four years, which is this kind of Trumpian brawl on social media, throwing out wild claims without evidence, just trying to get the opponent to take the bait and sink into a mud fight where most opponents lose with Donald Trump.
And I think what Joe Biden wants to do is answer what I think is a craving among a crucial middle of America for a kind of normalcy and to repair the torn fabric of our governance.
Look, people don't trust the government. They don't trust us. They don't trust the courts.
Too many people who are locked into partisan world views or cultural world views and don't trust anybody, that is one of the main jobs Joe Biden is going to have, to repair the fabric of the democracy. And one place he might find the opportunity to do that is not necessarily Congress with the United States, but with local officials, because you do see that people trust their mayors, their local public health officials, their governors to an extent, more than they do anyone in Washington.
And some kind of demonstration that Washington can work with those more pragmatic officials who seem to have maintained the trust of voters might help Joe Biden do what is his main task as president right now, which is calm the waters and repair the fabric of the democracy.
RADDATZ: And, Rachel, you are covering the Biden campaign as well as covering the White House. He's going to make a lot of cabinet choices soon and he has his priorities straight. You heard Jeh Johnson talk about the possibility of being defense secretary.
Joe Biden's cabinet will look very different than Donald Trump's cabinet.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dramatically different, Martha. Joe Biden has promised to have one of the most diverse cabinets and one of the most diverse administrations in American history. He's already starting with those agency review teams. More than half are women, 25 percent of them, are being led by black men and women.
Look, Joe Biden is keenly aware of the fact that it was black voters in South Carolina that helped him get the Democratic nomination and that it was black voters in those critical battleground states that propelled him to the White House. And so he's going to be looking to make his administration look a lot like America.
But you've been on the road, so have I, talking to voters. And minority voters that I talk to say representation is great. It's a step in the right direction. But what they actually want to see is some real change. And the challenge for Joe Biden will be working with Republicans on that. There's only so much that he can do on his own.
RADDATZ: And, Evan, some presidents want their cabinet in lockstep with them. I think we're in that phase right now. But -- but does Joe Biden want that or does he want pushback? You've talked to him over the years so many times and your book, you know him well. What do you think he's looking at?
RADDATZ: Oh, I think. I think we have Evan not quite there.
Evan, can I repeat that? Can Evan hear me?
OK, all right, let's move on.
And -- and, in fact, Terry, you talk about that, if -- if you will.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK.
Well, there's no question that Joe Biden is a different kind of leader and he's trying to make that clear every single day. A confident leader hears conflicting opinions. That is one of the ways you make good decisions. And I think Biden, with 50 years in public life, understands that.
One thing you know about Joe Biden, whatever you think of him, at this point he's a man who knows his own mind and he knows himself and he doesn't need it echoed constantly. I think he understands that -- that he needs to reach out.
He's also a politician from a different time, a time when constituencies were gathered in a smoke-filled room by, you know, in a legendary understanding of it, to essentially voice their views. And you can hear it still in his language when he talks about different groups. He doesn't talk about -- about the -- he almost talks about it like he wants people in the room so that he can cut a deal, find where their -- where there -- area for compromise is. And I do think you're going to see a very different kind of cabinet, a very different kind of president with -- at the (INAUDIBLE).
RADDATZ: And -- and, Julie -- Julie, we have just a minute here, but I do want to go back to coronavirus. You mentioned it at the top. The fatigue is very real. Trump has really only talked about the vaccine. Can Biden really pull people together on this?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This is going to be the challenge of his presidency. This is what his first year in office is going to be about. And he has some ability as president to set the nation on a new course, but so much of our response is based on governors, local officials and Americans getting on board with this different approach that he is going to call for, a national mask mandate, perhaps some more restrictions in -- in states. He can't do that alone. And I do think we're going to learn very quickly how persuasive he can be in getting this country to -- to change course in the opening months of his presidency.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Julie. He -- he really does have his work cut out for him given what we have seen on the road this week.
Thanks to all of you.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT."
And have a great day.
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