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tv   CNN Tonight with Don Lemon  CNN  December 2, 2020 12:00am-1:00am PST

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so tonight federal court documents showing the justice department's investigating a possible presidential pardon bribery scheme. those filings don't reveal any names of people potentially involved. also tonight, a source saying associates of president trump including his personal lawyer, rudy giuliani, are seeking preemptive pardons. all this happening as attorney general bill barr says there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the election. effectively shutting down president trump's false claims of massive voter fraud. joining me now, cnn white house correspondent john harwood, ron brownstein and amanda carpenter. good to see all of you. thanks for joining. john, you're first. the justice department is investigating a potential bribery scheme for presidential pardons. what do you know? what can you tell us about? >> we don't know a lot as you
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indicated in the open, don. we know that federal district judge released a heavily redacted court filing from this summer that indicated federal prosecutors were investigating the potential for a bid to obtain a presidential pardon by means of offering a campaign contribution either to a campaign directly or to a pol e political committee. names were not attached to t. we don't know who's being investigated. we're unaware anyone was charged with a crime in this investigation. as the conservative lawyer george conway who happens to be married to long-time trump advisor kellyanne conway, ask yourself, who was running a campaign for high office this summer and who has the power to issue a presidential pardon? the answer to both those questions is president donald
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trump. now, again, we do not know if he is referred to in any way in this document but it clearly hit -- the document itself and the coverage of the document hit close to home and president trump tweeted out that the investigation was fake news. of course, federal district judges are not in the business of advancing fake news so we're going to have to see what we can learn in the coming days about this case. >> amanda, we are also told that trump is considering granting preemptive pardons to his three oldest children, his son-in-law jared kushner and rudy giuliani. he can claim he's going to win all he wants but doesn't this show he knows it's over if he's even considering this? >> yeah. i mean, this has been the time a lot of people have been worried most about the trump presidency, how he would potentially abuse
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his power on his way out. the use of pardons potentially to expunge people from being held accountable for their criminal acts on his way out the door is one of the most controversial things a president can do. the question comes what crimes would he be pardoning them for. i look at that and say, go ahead. if you want to admit that members of your family committed some kind of a crime, members of your inner political circle committed some kind of a crime by extending them a pardon, then let's use that to go forward and say they should never come back to republican politics again. >> you're right. for what? what would he say? i'm pardoning you for blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. then that would be a trail of bread crumbs. actually, a big spotlight. this is where you should look.
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ron, is that you saying, mmmm. >> first of all, you can't pardon people for state crimes, including yourself. that is probably where the biggest legal vulnerability is. my thought, don, you don't get to this point in a day and get to this point on your own. there is no way he would be contemplating acts that are so egregious, so violative of historical norms if republicans had not enabled him and abetted him at each step. every time he breaks a window, republicans are sweeping up the glass. he exported the government in ukraine, tilt the census, especially in the post election period where i wrote today on the cnn website, the behavior of mitch mcconnell, kevin mccarthy and other leaders as trump has spun these poisonous theories
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that have been translated to death threats has been more cowardly and craven than it was to joe mccarthy. he has gotten to this point because he believes he will not be held accountable to his party any step along the way. we've learned one party alone can not uphold the rules of small d democracy. >> that mccarthy comparison, amanda, you didn't really -- i -- you know, that was like, wow. you didn't really flinch at that at all. >> here's what he have' been thinking about for the last five years, when are people going to stand up to trump. >> and they never do. >> they never do. they're fine with it. well, privately they have concerns. i've come on and explained the politics of their decisions and saying why they're strategically
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staying silent. they're fine with it as long as it keeps them power. they're fine with it even if the president has lost because they're making the calculation that it would be good to delegit mietz vice president joe biden. >> when you talk about the concern thing privately, they'll say it in front of cameras, i'm very, very, very concerned and then they vote and do everything the president wants them do. >> i think we're almost afraid -- i am afraid -- i have been afraid to come to this conclusion that they are fine with. i've want to believe somewhere in their hearts they would stand up if they weren't so scared. we're at a bad place where people are getting death threats and they won't defend their friend in georgia who is begging before the cameras for support. >> what were you going to say, ron? >> it's very similar to what happened in the 1950s. robert taft, the mitch mcconnell
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of the day, mr. republican candidate for president privately knew what mccarthy was doing was reckless and dangerous. he thought it was expedient for the party because initially he was targeting the truman administration. the problem was that it kept going and he went after the eisenhower administration and had these reckless charges of communist infiltration everywhere. in much the same way they are making the calculations in the senate and house that it is in their interests to let trump poison the system this way both because it makes it tough for biden to get a second look. others like dan crenshaw has said this could be the basis for a new round of voter suppression. it goes to a point where you are saying we're going to look at the short-term party interests over what is clearly a danger --
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>> craven. >> they're dealing with death threats. >> greedy and craven. john, i think your answer is going to be. i think i know where you're going. let me play this. one of georgia's top officials happens to be a lifelong republican weighing in on chris krebs being shot. >> joe asked for chris krebs, a patriot who ran cisa to be shot. a 20 something tech and when a county has a death threat and noose saying it should be hung for treason, mr. president, you have not condemned these actions or this language. senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. someone's going to get hurt. someone's going to get shot. someone's going to get killed. >> john, i'm going to give you the floor.
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someone's going to get killed. if this doesn't send a message to trump and his enablers, what the hell will? >> that is exactly the right message to send. joe degeneva who he referred to in that sound bite is a perfect example of the dissent of the trump party into degeneracy. he's shouting wild things about other people. he said he was sarcastic after this drew a lot of attention, but that is not anything to joke around about. saar ramp is typically the cover that is used afterwards by trump and his enablers from things that they said that are extreme. just to button up the point that ron and amanda were making earlier. republicans do a lot of whining about how the media is biased against them, but in the case of the trump years, this is actually the bias of the media
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has actually worked to their benefit in the following way. the biggest analytical mistake that the media as a -- mainstream media as a whole has made in the last four years is over estimating the willingness of republican elected officials at crunch time to do the right thing. they have not been willing to do the right thing. they are not doing the right thing now to threats to democracy and people including republican officials in their own party. it is a very sad commentary on what has happened to the republican party and it's to the detriment of all of us in the united states. >> well, i have been saying all along that they're okay with it because it just keeps happening. amanda, i know you've been on the show and have heard me saying that. i know it's hard for people to accept that. fool me once, you know what i'm saying. go on, ron. >> five years later.
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>> to john's point, we don't fully have a language for what's happening. we are treating the republican party that it's misbehaving in american politics and back and forth. what we are seeing in the post election period, the willingness to go along with such groundless fantasies, groundless and corrosive fantasies, don, there was much more push back on mccarthy than there has been from republicans now against trump. no question about it. there's a willingness to go along with this and it is a party that is showing a broad willingness to subvert small d democracy if that's what it takes to hold power, and that is a scary prospect that we have not fully wrapped our arms around as a country. >> it's called hypocrites, greedy, drifters, power hungry. there are a lot of words. we have to come up with one that encapsulates it perfectly. thank you all. i want to bring in the
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democratic governor of new mexico. michelle grisham. thank you so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me, don. thank you. >> let's talk about the coronavirus. it is awful. the hospitalizations in new mexico are at record highs this week. are you worried hospitals in your state will become overrun, governor? >> i've been worried about that single fact since the moment we were engaged in the late winter, early spring of this pandemic. if you're not paying real attention to health care capacity, you aren't paying attention to this pandemic as well as saving lives. in mexico for an antiquated medical rule, it's created very severe health care shortages. we have less health care per capita than average states so we really have to do it better. where we are today is in krit calling situations in every
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single hospital in the state. don, that's why we did a reset that just ended monday of this week. >> yeah. i want to ask you about that because you had a two-week shutdown. are you seeing signs that it helped in stopping the spread of this virus? >> it absolutely did and it's exactly why we did that. we wanted to rest up our health care providers and health care capacity. we wanted to stop exponential growth statewide and we wanted to reduce our positivity rates and all of that occurred. two weeks in dealing with this highly contagious, out of control virus isn't enough time but it allowed us to create then a new system moving forward because until we have the vaccine, with this virus out of control in the country, what happens in texas, what happens in arizona, what happens at the border happens in new mexico. this is the problem without having a federal framework to
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actively combat this pandemic, states are in this roller coaster mode and it is untenable. so we're going to keep going at this holding up our health care workers and hospitals and we're going to blunt the mortality rate to the highest degree that we can and we're going to go to this slow gradual reopening based on cases per 100,000 and positivity ratings. >> three tiered. >> it's the stop light, red to green. red stop, yellow, proceed with caution or slow up, green, go. >> okay. so cnn obtained a letter that members of the congressional hispanic caucus sent to the biden team urging them to choose you for health and human services secretary. are you being vetted for this role? >> you know, don, being a
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co-chair of the transition, we are incredibly focused on the things that americans need right now. you need the kinds of folks identified, appointed and nominated like you saw today, the economic team, so that we can get a stimulus out to the states. my job is to make sure that biden and harris have everything that they need to do that and while i'm incredibly honored and flattered that my colleagues can see the work that i'm doing on the ground and know that i've got 40 years in comprehensive health care experience, i'm focused on making sure i save new mexico lives. new mexico passed its own stimulus program because we can't wait for the federal government. while i've got total -- i'm positive about the success of biden and harris with congress to come to a deal, if you are going to have a reset and slow movement towards economic reopening and educational and in
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person successes, you have to take care of the people who are laid off and furloughed and the small businesses that don't have access to their customers. so we did all of that. housing protection, good security, stimulus through unemployment, $1200 for every new mexican that's unemployed and small business grants so that we can weather the storm. >> well, it sounds like you know what you're doing. you did get in there you have 40 years experience. we may see you in that role but until then, keep fighting and doing the right thing. we really appreciate you. >> you know what, thank you very much for having me. i appreciate it. >> by the way, i love the tree behind you. christmas tree. >> pretty good. that's new mexico tree work there. >> really beautiful. thank you. be safe. we have news on the coronavirus vaccine and who might be getting it first and as the virus rages, president-elect biden introduces his economic team and promises to create a recovery for everybody.
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new developments tonight in the fight against the coronavirus. vaccine advisers voting 13-1 to recommend health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities be first to receive the coronavirus vaccines. today the united states added over 168,000 new cases of coronavirus and over 2400 deaths. record-breaking levels. over 98,000, the highest number of covid-19 hospitalizations we have ever experienced. joining me is dr. michael osterholm and director of the center for infectious disease
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and research policy. doctor, good to see you wince again. >> good to see you, don. >> let's discuss this. the cdc cries ri recommending health care workers and those at long-term care facilities get the vaccine 13-1. what's the next step? >> this is the very first of the recommendations that will be made. this will take care of the 24 million people who will be vaccinated by the end of the year. then the committee will decide who's after that. essential workers, people at high risk for serious disease, et cetera. that was not addressed. >> i said it was 13-1. the one no vote came from dr. helen thalmud. she's worried it hasn't been studied enough in residents of long-term facilities.
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we hope it works. we hope it's safe. that concerns me on many levels. that tells me a lot of folks have different issues. are you worried about adverse reactions to the vaccine? >> we sure have to be mindful of that, but at this point, no. what we have to deal with is a classic risk-benefit issue. one, what is the risk of getting this infection and dying. that's a pretty bad outcome there. whereas, with a question of the vaccine, will it protect the people? with influenza, older individuals don't respond to the vaccine as well. that's the real challenge. will it protect the people? where we're at with long-term care and the number of cases occurring there and the number of deaths, i think it's a wise move to go ahead and take the vaccine and put it into that area right now.
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>> so, doctor, two senior administration sources telling cnn that the cdc will soon reduce the number of quarantine days from 14 to possibly 10 or maybe even seven days with a negative test. do you think more people will follow the rules if they have to quarantine for a shorter amount of time? >> i think they will follow the quarantine rules. remember when the 14 day quarantine was set up, it was very early into the pandemic. we had less information than we do today. if you look at the studies that address when does someone actually become infectious and have clinical signs and symptoms after having been exposed, we see that most of that does occur within the first seven days. so if one is following someone for seven days versus 14 and then particularly if you have a negative test, that really is likely to have a much more positive impact than people who say, well, i can't do 14 days so
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they don't do any at all. so i think this is a smart move and it will help us. >> doctor, cnn has obtained documents from operation warp speed. it says pfizer's vaccine will be ready to ship december 15th. moderna around december 22nd. once the states have them, how will they distribute them? >> well, each state has its own plan and they're working with their own local health care providers, their hospitals and they will make that determination so i imagine it's going to look different in each of the states in terms of which hospitals are going to receive the vaccine first. remember within the hospital which workers will get the vaccine first has to be determined yet. those are all part of the plans that are being worked on at the local level right now. >> the fda commissioner hahn was summoned to the white house today for a meeting with chief
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of staff mark meadow. the president is pushing for faster approval for the pfizer vaccine s. there a potential impact of the public's trust? >> it's important it has vigorous review by outside advisory groups as well as inside the fda. i have confidence that's what's being done right now and so at this point i believe the science will rule the day and that's what's important for the public to know. they must trust the vaccines when it comes out and the only way to do that is to have a scientific approach. everything will be based on the science. >> dr. osterholm, always a pleasure. thank you. >> thank you, sir. holiday season in full swing
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at the first house. the halls decked out with the theme america the beautiful. melania trump posting a video on twitter. ♪ ♪ ♪ so the decorations are beautiful. i love decorating my house too, as well. we know melania trump hasn't always felt that way. here's what she said about it in 2018 when she was talking to her former friend who was an informal advisor to the east wing and wrote a tell-all book including how the first lady was stressed out about the constant press coverage of her. >> i support him.
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i don't say enough. i don't do enough. i'm working like a -- my ass off at -- christmas stuff that you know who gives a [ bleep ] about christmas stuff. >> imagine if michelle obama had been caught on tape saying f christmas. most of the guests are wearing masks, but not mrs. trump. the president and the first lady planning to host more than a dozen holiday parties after a series of super spreader events recently at the rose garden ceremony where president trump introduced his supreme court nominee. nearly several dozen people tested positive for covid-19 including the president and the first lady. following the election night gathering, more people testing
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positive. retweeting the first lady's video saying the white house is beautifully decorated and can be appreciated by all if we don't allow politics to dilute everything. attorney general bill barr breaking with the president over his election fraud claims but will anything in the president's dangerous election fraud fantasy? that as the president still trying to throw out votes in wisconsin. the secretary of state of wisconsin weighs in next. iabet*# #1 for psoriasis symptom relief* and #1 for eczema symptom relief* gold bond champion your skin
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so bill barr's the attorney general. we know that. he's derailing his boss's claim of widespread voter fraud. barr telling the associated press, quote, to date we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.
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what tows it mean that it's coming from bill barr, the great enabler? >> yeah, don, this one's got to sting. can you imagine, bill barr over the last two years has consistently been one of president trump's fiercest, most loyal enablers and side kicks. now he's saying it's too much. a few months ago bill barr was sounding the talking points about massive fraud. he had no proof. the election is over. doj has taken a look and they found nothing. even bill bar has to acknowledge it's just over. >> rudy giuliani has responded with a statement saying that barr's opinion is without knowledge. it's not a clash of the titans
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when it comes to credibility between these two men, but what is rudy giuliani talking about? >> rudy giuliani is so far gone, don, it's really sort of a sad moment. let's be clear, it's not rudy giuliani versus bill barr. they both have very serious credibility problems. it's rudy giuliani versus the entire justice department which has been on bill barr's orders investigating this, they can't find it. and the fbi, chris wray has said this and doj, chris krebs said the same thing and got fired as a result. rudy is really on an island all by himself at this point zpl it's really -- when you think about all of these things, they're living in la la land. even i think about all of the commissions and people he's impaneled and all of that that have had to go away because he could find nothing, right? like the voter fraud and all of
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that. i say that because he's appointing john durham as special council which will likely carry over to the biden administration. could biden fire durham? >> one thing prosecutors are good at, when you have a dog, assign it to someone else, let someone else handle it. i had plenty assigned to me. this is the ultimate dump. trump was hoping for a great october surprise. durham by all appearances does not have that, was not able to deliver and now they're saying, next attorney general, it's going to be your problem. i think that's the intent here. >> okay. very, very smart.
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and we're paying for t right? >> oh, you know it. you know it. we're going to maybe some day get a big fat report saying the whole thing was a big fat dud. >> yeah. that's -- you missed the open for the 10:00 show. i have to ask you because you said durham, as you said, he was under intense pressure to release his findings before election day. if you listen to state media, the durham report. wait until durham. the durham -- again, conspiracy theory or, i don't know, something that nothing ever came of. what's the point of this? >> at this point that's a great question. we're not talking about the prior election, two elections ago. 2016 is ancient history at this point. doj was willing to bend the rules. normally you don't announce an investigation 60 days before an
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election. guess what, he didn't have anything worth announcing. there was pressure on durham because his top lieutenant resigned. she believed they were under undue pressure. it's the same theme with the election fraud and durham. bill barr can twist it and distort that but he's not a wizard. he can't conjure something out of thin air. >> oh, but they try. tonight we're seeing court records that show the doj's investigating a potential pardon bribery scheme. i mean, it doesn't involve a government official, but what are the legal implications there of a potential scheme? >> yeah, it's so interesting. first of all, the president recently tweeted this is fake news. it's not fake news. it's in court documents. we know some person who's not known was trying to engineer a pardon by paying money to some entity. we don't know who the recipient
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was. we could guess all day. but there's only one person who can give a pardon and we know who that is. maybe the money didn't go directly to that person but there are plenty of political groups affiliatewide that person. there are plenty of ways to make a payment that could please that person. doj understands. if there's bribery, obstruction, that should be a crime and doj is treating it as a potential crime. that's a good thing. >> always a pleasure. thank you, sir. >> you, too, don. thanks. the trump campaign seeking to throw out hundreds of thousands of votes in wisconsin. the secretary of state joins me next. new neutrogena® rapid tone repair 20 percent pure vitamin c. a serum so powerful dark spots don't stand a chance.
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so the trump campaign keeping up the court battles in wisconsin seeking to throw out 221,000 votes just one day after governor tony evers certified it. the lawsuit says it uncovered serious legality issues specifically taking aim at absentee voting in the state. joining me to discuss wisconsin's secretary of state.
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i'm so happy to have you on. really appreciate it. let's get to the bottom of this, shall we? the results have been certified in your state. the lawsuit doesn't claim any of the voters were ineligible to vote in wisconsin. what's the problem? >> no, like you said, i signed the certificate of electors yesterday at about 4:30 and that ended the process and now of course as you know there's five days possible for lawsuits so they filed their lawsuits and like i said -- i heard you say before, it's la la land in wisconsin because this case, again, has no merit and we can talk about some of the details. basically rather than try to individually decide that poll or that vote was wrong for some reason, they picked whole classes of votes. for example, they picked 17,200
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some ballots that were delivered on weekends to the election facilities in city parks. because of the virus epidemic they decided to have public opening area where people could bring their ballots and deposit them in safe locations with elected officials there to supervise and there were 17,000 of those over two weekends that were deposited. so they're saying that that process is not legal. and then the other thing they want to do is we have early voting, as many places do. in fact, our good president was encouraging early voting as i remember. so early voting you go into a location and you sign up and you vote and you don't need to file an absentee ballot form to do that because you're not really voting absentee, you're voting early. they're claiming that some
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100,000 or so ballots are invalid because people voted early. that's the kind of thing they're up to and it has no merit. i'm hoping that our supreme court will see through this mon sense. >> so then what is the cost to wisconsin, really country i should be asking, to have to keep dealing with these challenges? >> well, they had to pay $3 million for the recount, and that covered the cost of the recount. this challenge doesn't cost a whole lot because it's just a matter of appearing before the supreme court and he'll have his lawyers here. i'm not sure that our good friend giuliani is coming to wisconsin or not. of course, we'll have our attorney general defending the process. i think the court may refuse to take the case. in other places, pennsylvania, et cetera, the court has said there's no merit.
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we're not even going to take this case. so we'll see. our case -- our court is divided. it's 4-3 republican but there's at least one republican who has shown some common sense in the past. so i'm hoping that our court will just see this for what it is. another way for trump to continue to raise millions of dollars from his loyal fans. >> 170 million so far. so what about the political costs though. the longer these legal challenges go on, the longer there will be people who believe there must be something to them. are you worried about this undermining the faith in the election process? >> all sort of joking aside, don, you're absolutely right. i've been in government, politics, academia for many years. it's very sad to see our democracy being trashed by this
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president and his minions like mr. mcconnell and other people that refused to acknowledge the election results. it's bewildering. it is bewildering to me how so many millions of citizens who you and i walk by every day on the street if we're out walking with our masks on can really believe this sort of thing. i don't know how long it's going to take for us to win back the democratic process of voting and electing our leadership that we had here for so many years until recently. >> secretary, best of luck to you. thank you so much. >> you bet, done. thank you so much. >> we'll be right back. mom, why do we always come here for the holidays? how did you find great-grandma's recipe? we're related to them? we're portuguese? i thought we were hungarian? grandpa, can you tell me the story again?
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while a running sink uses that, every two minutes. that means even small loads can save water. so why not do it? run your dishwasher every night with cascade platinum. the surprising way to save water. this year "cnn heroes" is focusing on social justice. as part of giving tuesday we are making it easy for you to help by highlighting eight organizations doing very important work to help on both fronts and make the world a better place. anderson cooper joins us. >> the center for disaster philanthropy helps donors impact their global contributions through crises like covid-19. chef jose andres helps using the power of food to heel and strengthen communities.
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>> we need to be part of the solution. >> adopt a classroom advances equity in education by giving teachers and schools access to the resources they need. >> i challenge every american family to no longer whisper about mental illness behind closed doors. >> co-founded by glenn close, bring change to mind, encouraging dialogue, raising awareness, understanding and empathy. >> the make a wish foundation provides life changing experiences for children battling critical illness restoring in them. >> thank you. >> a sense of childhood and giving normalcy to their families. the equal justice initiative fights to end mass incarceration by challenging racial and economic inequity, by challenging basic human
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inequities in prison. safe water and sanitation in 17 countries around the world. and finally, issue voter is increasing civic engagement beyond the voting booth helping people share their views on new bills of their elected officials with one click. >> we can create the world we want to live in by making all of our voices heard on the issues. >> want to learn more, go to and click donate beneath any of this year's organizations to make their direct contributions the go fund me for the charity campaign. this is tax deductible in the united states. >> and, again, if you want to learn more about each organization, go to don't forget to tune in to the 14th, can you believe it, it's been 14, 14th annual "cnn heroes" all-star tribute on sunday, december 14th, 8 p.m. eastern here on cnn. thanks for watching, everyone. our coverage continues.
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hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the united states and all around the world. you are watching "cnn newsroom" and i'm rosemary church. just ahead, breaking news today. the u.k. approves the pfizer biontech coronavirus vaccine for use. more from london on that in just a moment. this as the cdc firms up its priority list for who gets the vaccine first once it's approved here in the united states. the latest details ahead on that. and attorney general william barr refutes president donald trump and said there is no evidence of widespread


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