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Trump Hosting Michigan Legislators at White House

Nov.20 -- Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders plan to meet with Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, despite a bipartisan outcry over the president’s apparent push to overrule voters and award him the state’s Electoral College votes. Emily Wilkins of Bloomberg Government reports on "Bloomberg Surveillance."

Video Transcript

TOM KEENE: --to Emily, we've got to talk about the cacophony yesterday. Let me give you an open question to start. Within Election 2020 and the blur of this, what are you focused on this Friday?

EMILY WILKINS: Oh, there are a lot of things to focus on. I think a lot of people, in particular, are looking at-- there's a continued, what the Trump campaign is trying to do to kind of, sort of deal or not deal with the fact that the president does not have the electoral votes to win again.

I mean, the latest move, Trump has invited leaders of the Michigan legislature to come meet with him at the White House. This is a Republican-led legislature, even though the governor is a Democrat. And it appears to be part of a strategy on the Trump campaign, maybe if they can persuade Republican legislatures to overthrow voters and give him the Electoral College vote, maybe is a path to victory.

TOM KEENE: I mean, Emily, a solution there is maybe they go visit Mr. Biden as well, and make it ecumenical or bipartisan, whatever. Emily, I'm watching Vice President Pence. What would you expect to hear from the vice president in the next 24 hours?

EMILY WILKINS: So all the Republicans who are going down to Georgia, as Vice President Pence is, kind of have this very unique line to walk right now. They have to convince Republicans to turn out and vote in the upcoming Senate elections, and one of their big arguments is that, you know, they need them to come out so Republicans can take control of the Senate. The problem is that Republicans are also still trying to play the game where they're not really saying that Trump has lost the election, and because if the Democrats win Georgia it's a 50/50 tie, what that basically means is that they kind of have to encourage voters to come out without admitting that Trump has indeed lost.

- I got to say, Emily, from the political side, this is a lot of the focus. From the market side, the markets have moved on. They basically think that Joe Biden is going to take the White House on January 20, and the question is, what will be his agenda? What will be his to do list, and how effective we'll be able to roll out some sort of vaccine distribution mechanism so that we can get over this pandemic quickly. Where are we on that front with the sort of cooperation of both administrations in any move toward that, that direction?

EMILY WILKINS: You know, it sounds like at this point the two administrations haven't really been talking a lot with each other. I mean, once again, the federal government has not formally recognized that we're going to have an incoming Biden administration, and he's not been able to start the transition.

That said, Biden has already started talking about his plans for coronavirus. He's talking about sort of really encouraging people to wear masks, to starting up a infectious disease task force that was there under the Obama administration, but was sort of downgraded during the Trump administration, and so I think we're going to see a lot of strong messaging on coronavirus from the Biden administration. The question is whether he will have a Senate that is likely in Democratic control and able to work with him, or whether he's going to have to work with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on getting something done.

JONATHAN FERRO: We need to get to January 20 first. Tom, in the last 24 hours, the CDC warned against traveling for Thanksgiving. California has ordered a late night curfew. New Hampshire has issued a mask mandate, and Rhode Island has ordered a two week pause, but that won't begin until November 30. Tom, they're just some of the moves in the last 24 hours. We started this program with the hope of the vaccine being deployed in America next month. That's next month. That's where it starts.

TOM KEENE: And, uh--

JONATHAN FERRO: We still need to get through all this.

TOM KEENE: Anna Edney on Bloomberg has a terrific article on this this morning I'm literally putting out on Twitter right now. Emily Wilkins, we had a coronavirus briefing yesterday. I'm absolutely fascinated by this. Do we have a coronavirus panel?

EMILY WILKINS: I mean, there is in the White House a coronavirus task force, although there has been some criticism about how often that has wound up meeting and how often they're communicating--

TOM KEENE: And what do they do? Emily, come on. You know all the dirt? What do they do every day?

EMILY WILKINS: I mean, it's a group of different people, right? Like, it includes Vice President Pence. He obviously has different things on his plate than simply the coronavirus task force, but they're supposed to be the ones looking at the response, figuring out how to go forward, figuring out what guidance to give, if any guidance to give at this point, how much to leave to the states? And at this point, the answer has been a lot. The federal government has left a lot to the states, and I think we're going to see under a Biden administration, a much stronger federal government when it comes to addressing how the nation needs to respond to the coronavirus.

JONATHAN FERRO: We don't live in an authoritarian regime, and that ultimately has been the difference between the way, say, China has handled this situation, and the way that the United States and Europe has handled this situation, but as Bill Gates pointed out, and we played the tape a little bit earlier this morning, Tom, the better comparison is probably the United States and Europe with places like South Korea, places like Australia. And it's not just that the federal government has left it to the states. The states are leaving it to individuals. Now, the administration would say, that's the American way. Who am I to argue with that? But when you hear Governor Herbert basically suggest of Utah that Thanksgiving and mixing households is probably not ideal, but we'll leave it up to you, Tom, what do you think is going to happen?

TOM KEENE: I don't, it's so original, John, I really don't have a strong opinion on Thanksgiving. John, this is a holiday in America. This is the fourth Thursday of November, and you know, we've got to get to it and move on from Detroit Lions football. You know, I really don't know what's going to happen to Thanksgiving, other than clearly, John, as you noticed yesterday with United Airlines, travel is plunging right now in America.

JONATHAN FERRO: Yeah, Emily, great to catch up. Appreciate your time this morning. Thank you. Emily Wilkins there of Bloomberg Government.