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CNN "The Lead with Jake Tapper" - Transcript: Interview with Congressman Paul Mitchell and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

Interview

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[16:54:00]

HILL: Breaking news, moments ago, it became official. Michigan certifying Joe Biden's victory in that state. The state secretary saying democracy has prevailed and that Michigan survived an unprecedented attack.

Certification is usually a run-of-the-mill process that in classic 2020 fashion became incredibly controversial.

Joining me live to discuss -- something rare but welcome these days, a Republican and a Democrat who share views on this, and they want to be together in an interview -- Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Republican Congressman Paul Mitchell. They co-wrote an op-ed over the weekend calling on President Trump to accept his loss and to allow for a peaceful transition. Good to have both of you with us.

Boy, things have changed since we talked about having you first come on the program this morning.

Congressman Mitchell, I know you spoke a few days ago with one of the board members, Norman Shingle, he's a Republican. He had indicated that he was going to vote against certification. Instead, he abstained.

I'm just curious. What was that conversation like that the two of you had?

[16:55:01]

REP. PAUL MITCHELL (R-MI): He expressed concerns about the number of things you heard in the board of canvass meeting about the accuracy of the vote, about some misconduct, potential fraud, concerns about Dominion, a whole series of things, a number of them just conspiracy theories.

And it involved to the place that, well, maybe we just push back the vote so we can investigate. As I said, there is no mechanism in Michigan law to do that. So, but he was -- he was very much in the mode of we should push back and we shouldn't certify. He abstained today but he was very critical of the election process.

It could always need improvement. We had a record vote, there is going to be the some errors. There's going to be some things that you don't like, but I think we had an election that spoke for and we have -- we have a president-elect. It's Joe Biden and we need to move forward.

HILL: Congresswoman Slotkin, there were so many today county level clerks, there was local election officials saying it is your duty to certify this election. In fact, one said, a vote against certification would show democracy is dying in Michigan.

Was that your main concern? Do you agree?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, listen, certainly we know they took something that was typically apolitical and made it political. And I think, importantly, it showed that there are rules, there are laws, there are procedures and those things should be followed whether your team wins or not. And so, certainly, one of the concerns I know that I had going into this was kind of the hallowing out of democracy. And what it means if you have people who just don't believe in our system any more.

So, I'm glad that it worked. I'm glad that people did their job and I'm glad that Michigan could go ahead and certify.

HILL: You know, as we look at this, there is some concern, Congressman Mitchell, moving forward about these efforts led by the president, a number of Republicans as well, that if the president's M.O. is to sow doubt and confusion to undermine the election, that could last well beyond 2020 and we're at right now. How much of a concern is that for you and how much of is that

conversation with some of your Republican colleagues?

MITCHELL: Well, it's a conversation we're having with a lot of people who are standing up for what the most fundamental thing, the value of our vote and the importance in our republic. I think that's what I took oath to. And I -- as Alyssa knows, there's a number of things with her that I disagree about, the one thing we're both very much pledged towards, which is supporting our country. And doing that means we need to have an effective transition. Failure to do that puts our country as risk from a national security perspective.

Your previous guest was talking about the issue around pandemic. While I don't agree with the governor of New Jersey on a number of things, I do agree that failure to coordinate and dealing with the pandemic, and dealing with the vaccine, is another major issue we have in this country. We need to move forward, and to do that, we need the administration, the Trump administration to cooperate and recognize the loss of the election. It's that simple.

HILL: There's the moving forward, right, in terms of recognizing the results of the election, allowing that peaceful transition to begin taking place, and then there's just sort of a moving forward in general.

And this is -- I'm going to throw this out to both of you. But I'll start with you, Congresswoman Slotkin.

How do you start to do that now? What is the message in Michigan that ideally can be heard across the country in terms of moving forward?

SLOTKIN: Sure. I think that we have to give a lot of credit to the clerks and to the people who are involved in getting us this far and take our lead from that, right? A lot of these folks have shown a lot of leadership, a lot of bravery, and we need to say, this is, you know, the time and the moment for people to stand up and do the same thing.

I hope Michigan serves as that example. We were obviously under tremendous pressure. Our Republican colleagues were called to the White House, and they resisted and we have a positive result today. So, I hope that's the example we set.

And then as Paul said, I mean, we serve on the Armed Services Committee together. I think we all need to remember that transition isn't just a political thing. It's about national security and protecting our homeland, and we need to focus the country on that, on just protecting ourselves and getting that handoff, that safe responsible handoff before January.

Then we got to figure out how we work together again. And I think part of the reason Paul and I wanted to do this op-ed was because we know -- I'll speak for myself -- that we have to govern together, we have to connect together and figure out how to work together and disagree without being disagreeable.

HILL: Well, I look forward to you two setting an example as we head into January. Really appreciate both of you taking the time to join us.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Congressman Paul Mitchell, thank you both.

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