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New Congress to be Sworn In; Democratic-Controlled House Gavels into Session; Pence Swears in Senators; Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 3, 2019 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: This means that one chamber -- I mean anybody who hasn't been under a rock knows this, but it's important to say it again since we're about to actually have this new Congress sworn in, the House is now the only show in town for Democrats.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It is. And it's the only show in town really that's incredibly diverse. You think about all the new members that are coming in, a record number of African-American women, will be in this Congress. A lot of firsts in terms of Native Americans, in terms of Muslims-Americans as well, much more representative of America as a whole. And Nancy Pelosi making some history here, retaking the gavel. This is the first time in 50 years that's ever happened. And she likely has the votes to become the next speaker of the House. We'll see how this goes today. We'll probably see some divisions here in terms of what -- who thinks -- there she is there.

BASH: I just want to --

HENDERSON: Yes.

BASH: Yes. And, Nia, I just want to say that what we're seeing right now is Nancy Pelosi, it being looks like that's one of her grandsons, walking towards -- several -- let's listen.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Good.

QUESTION: How does it feel to be back?

BASH: That's -- that's the -- the Will Rogers Corridor. She's now walks into the House floor, which we now see. The clerk is going to gavel in. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the meeting of the 116th Congress of the United States, the House will come to order.

BASH: And so it begins. We are going to have the prayer and the pledge and several other sort of administrative issues that we're going to see going on before the minority leader and then, of course, the soon to be speaker, who we see there, Nancy Pelosi, are going to be officially nominated, sworn in, and then they're going to swear the rest of Congress in.

But just as we look at these live images of Nancy Pelosi with her grandchildren, it's really fascinating to be reminded that it was nine years ago that she first broke that highest, hardest marble ceiling.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. It was in 2007, surrounded by her grandchildren. Some of them are older now, of course. That's a long time in the age of a grandchild. But that's what is so striking here.

So a couple different story lines. What is happening on the House floor means an entirely different second half of the first term of the Trump administration. At the halftime mark, the rules are totally different for this president. The engagement is totally different. The context and oversight is different. So that is what is going to be playing out.

But for today at least, the diversity of the House chamber, which we're seeing right there, we're going to get to know and learn so many new faces of this House Democratic chamber. The new Congress. They don't, obviously, all share the same views necessarily. That is going to be the speaker's challenger should she become speaker, which we think she will. But that's what is extraordinary.

It was in 2007, of course, in the waning years of the Bush administration, as you know well, Dana, we were both there, and now she is back. It's an extraordinary political feat for her.

BASH: Twelve years ago. I'll get my math in.

ZELENY: Twelve years ago, right.

BASH: Stand by because I want to get straight to Capitol Hill. Manu Raju is just outside the House chamber.

Manu, describe the sights, sounds, and the smells of this first day.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: well, there's a lot of excitement anticipated among the Democrats, particularly the new members excited for their new opportunity here and realizing how ambitious this agenda is. And even the chairman of these key committees, who have been waiting for so long to launch investigations, to do oversight. And I got a chance to talk to some of them this morning, including the House Judiciary chairman, the new one, Jerry Nadler, who told me this morning that he's prepared to call in Matt Whitaker, the acting attorney general, as one of his first witnesses. He says he -- they've been going back and forth about a date in January. And I asked him, are you going to subpoena Matt Whitaker. He said, we will if we have to.

As well as Elijah Cummings, who's the new House Oversight chairman. He's ready to look into a whole laundry list of issues. One of the first ones he said is looking at the citizens in question that is on the census for 2020. He wants to bring in Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary, for questions, that he believes was misleading towards Congress. And, of course, once this happens, later this hour, Nancy Pelosi, you could -- going to -- there's also begin for her to get the speakership. Then they're going to start moving forward on a legislative agenda and expect tonight a vote in the -- the first vote in the House to reopen the government. Some the Senate Republicans will not take up. But an ambitious legislative agenda bound to kick off this afternoon, as well as that ambitious oversight agenda that the White House, the Trump administration is already worried about. So already all these plans taking shape behind the scenes.

Now, Dana, of course, time to put them into action, which we'll see in just a matter of moments here.

BASH: Manu, thank you so much. We'll get back to you as you continue to monitor things up there. Maybe you can show us your brand new Trapperkeeper, if you have that, for the first day of school.

HENDERSON: Nice.

BASH: Am I dating myself?

ZELENY: I'd love a Trapperkeeper.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I like it.

BASH: I'm dating myself.

[12:05:02] Sahil, you're up on Capitol Hill every day working those hallways.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "BLOOMBERG": Yes, so this new Democratic caucus in the House will be very diverse, not only biographically as we've been talking, people from a lot of different backgrounds, but idea logically as well. You have an ascendant progressive wing that believes that they have, you know, kind of the heart of the party at this moment. Many of them from blue districts that are going to want to pursue a far reaching agenda, messaging bills, things like Medicare for all and free college tuition that they believe in. It's not going to pass the Senate or the White House. And you have a lot of members, most of these the majority makers, the new members who are coming in, are from purple and red districts and they don't want to pursue a far progressive agenda. They wanted to do incremental things like infrastructure, (INAUDIBLE) stabilization that could potentially become law.

This is going to be one of Speaker-designate Pelosi's biggest challenges, uniting the caucus, when to be partisan and when to, you know, give the left what it wants, and knowing when to be partisan and cut deals because she is going to have to make sure government functions.

BASH: And as we talk, I just want to tell our viewers, we're looking at, again, some of the perfunctory but very important processes that you need to do to get the new Congress up and running. They're going to get credentials for some of the delegates there and then we are going to see the official nominations for the speaker and for the minority leader, the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Go ahead, Julie.

PACE: Well, one of the interesting dynamics that I things we'll be watching is how what Sahil is talking about lines up with what we're going to be seeing in the Democratic presidential primary.

KAPUR: Yes.

PACE: Because those divisions are going to be at play there. And how you see these presidential candidates and this Democratic-led House sort of working in tandem potentially to offset Trump, to pass legislation through the House that they can't obviously get through the Senate and don't expect the president to sign, but now Democrats who are going to be trying to take on Trump have an actual chamber that they can be pushing their policy agenda through. And as Jeff mentioned, they're going to be investigating the president. And that is going to be just an enormous change here, that there's actually power, subpoena power, to be going after Trump.

I'm not sure Trump really has come to grips with what that means, what kind of change this means for his administration.

BASH: And I also want to show one of the things that you were talking about, obviously, the diversity. But, before I do, it's so -- it's fascinating because you have a lot of the new members that's -- this is what's called a quorum call, which is effectively an attendance call to make sure everybody is there. But they're trying to figure out how to do this for the first time. How to use their voting card and so forth, being on the floor, in this formal way, for the first time.

But, as we talk about that, the diversity. Look at this when we talk about diversity in the 116th Congress, 40 new women, 20 new veterans, 10 new Hispanic and Latino, nine black and five new LGBTQ.

OK, we're going to talk about that in a second. Let's go to the Senate floor. Mike Pence, who is also the president of the Senate, is going to begin to swear in senators.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All certificates, the chair is advised, are in the form suggested by the Senate or contain all the especially requirements of the forms suggested by the Senate. If there be no objection, the reading of the certificates will be waved and they will be printed in full in the record.

If the senators to be sworn in will now present themselves at the desk in groups of four as their names are called, in alphabetical order, the chair will administer the oaths of office. The clerk will read the names of the first group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baldwin, Barrasso, Blackburn, Braun.

PENCE: First step.

OK.

Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the

Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senators.

BASH: So what we just saw is the first round. They're going in groups of four. Senators going to be sworn in by the vice president, again, who's also the president of the Senate. You see there, Marsha Blackburn, was a member of the House, is now a member of the U.S. Senate. She is the first woman to represent the state of Tennessee. She is taking Bob Corker's seat. He retired.

[12:10:14] Another new member who -- or new senator, rather, who we're seeing sworn in is Mike Braun, who beat the incumbent Democrat from Indiana, Joe Donnelly. So four senators there being sworn in on the left, two of whom are new senators, others are being sworn in for yet another term.

That's what you see on the left side of your screen. The right side of your screen is House members milling around, getting to know you, waiting for what is known as a quorum call to be finished with so that they can start the rest of the proceedings. But the action at this moment is, as we just saw, in the U.S. Senate because of the swearing in has begun.

Let's listen to some more.

PENCE: The clerk will read the names of the second group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Carper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how are you?

PENCE: Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the way up here, this --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, this one.

PENCE: Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ben, stand right here.

PENCE: Good to see you.

Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Never too old, right?

PENCE: Good to see you.

Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senators.

BASH: So those were four senators who are being sworn in for yet another term. No new senators in this group, but some notable senators nonetheless, like Sherrod Brown, for example, who is from Ohio. Thought he might have a pretty tough race but was re-elected pretty easily. Is also somebody who's being talked about and maybe talking about himself potentially for a 2020 presidential race.

As we watch what's going on there, let's discuss here and I will say forgive me ahead of time for interrupting as we watch this. You were -- I could say -- I could see your wheels turning, Jeff Zeleny, as you were watching.

ZELENY: No question. I mean we are going to see this split screen, which we're seeing right now. That is going to be applicable to the entire next year for sure. The next session of this Congress. A split screen between what is happening on Capitol Hill and the presidency, but more importantly, Washington and the presidential campaign.

And as Julie was saying earlier, that is going to show Democrats -- if House Democrats become too liberal or divisive, how will that bleed over into the presidential campaign? Very similar to what we saw 12 years ago in 2007. I was thinking back to this morning, watching those old pictures of Speaker Pelosi then, as we see more senators here coming to the floor.

BASH: And another new senator, also a former House member, Kevin Cramer, another Republican who toppled an incumbent Democrat in a red State, Kevin Cramer, we're talking about North Carolina. Another interesting and familiar senator there, Ted Cruz, who won re-election against Beto O'Rourke, another person --

PENCE: Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do. I will. PENCE: Congratulations, senators.

BASH: I believe I said Kevin Cramer is from North Carolina. He's obviously from North Dakota. That is the red state that he represents.

Also interesting in that group, Dianne Feinstein, who ran for re- election and won. Ended up, because of the primary system in California, running against a fellow Democrat. Already, going into her election, she was the oldest member of the Senate, and that is still the case now and yet she -- she's still wanted to continue on and represent her state of California.

PACE: One of the other interesting dynamics to be watching is all of these senators who are considering and probably will be running for president.

ZELENY: Right.

PACE: It's also reminiscent of 2007 --

ZELENY: Right.

PACE: When you had Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and --

ZELENY: Chris Dodd.

PACE: Chris Dodd. And the list goes on.

HENDERSON: Oh, that's right. Don't forget Chris Dodd, yes.

[12:15:00] PACE: And how they'll be using that platform as a Democratic minority in the Senate --

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: To position themselves for their presidential campaign. We could have Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand. It's a -- Sherrod Brown. It's a really long list.

ZELENY: Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: Amy Klobuchar.

HENDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) maybe.

KAPUR: Cory Booker.

HENDERSON: Yes, Cory Booker.

PACE: It's sometimes news if you're a Democratic senator who's not considering running for president right now?

ZELENY: Right.

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: But it's going to be fascinating to watch that dynamic play out.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KAPUR: And let's not forget, Democrats will have filibuster power in the Senate. They have not only the House, they have the ability to block legislation in the Senate. That is the same set-up in reverse that Republicans used to great effect in 2011 and 2012 to thwart President Obama's agenda and extract something to the tune of about a trillion dollars in spending cuts without giving the White House much of anything they got in return.

BASH: Let's listen in to the next group. You mentioned 2020 candidates, potential, Kirstin Gillibrand is now being sworn in.

PENCE: Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, sir.

PENCE: Congratulations.

BASH: And of those four, the second to the right, Josh Hawley, a new member, a new senator from Missouri, beat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. He is, I believe, now the youngest member of the Senate. He was elected at just age 38 years old.

I want to go to Capitol Hill. Phil Mattingly is up there for us, who is keeping an eye, while we're watching the Senate, over on the House side.

Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, Dana, what's interesting on days like this, and you've covered speakers gavels changing hands in the past, is kind of the color and the atmosphere. It's about the whole thing.

And we just got a sense of who Nancy Pelosi will have in the gallery and on the floor with her, and that list, according to her office, she's going to have all five of her children in the gallery, all nine of her grandchildren are either on the floor with her right now or are in the gallery. There's also three other individuals that are in the gallery as guests to soon to be Speaker Nancy Pelosi that I wanted to point out. Tony Bennett, who I actually ran into earlier wondering through

Statuary Hall. Very nice. Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. And Tim Gunn of Bravo fame. Obviously friends of the soon to be speaker. Tony Bennett, I am told, performed at a ceremony for her last night and longtime connection with San Francisco as well.

But the color of these moments, I think, you know, we all kind of all focus on what's going to happen policy-wise, is anybody ever going to open the government again, but the color is always kind of interesting as well in terms of who the members bring and also kind of underscores how important, from a family perspective, from a friend perspective, and from an ally perspective, the moment is for Nancy Pelosi as she re-ascends to the speakership. The first person to do that in more than 60 years.

BASH: Phil, thank you.

Let's go to the Senate for the next group of senators being sworn in.

PENCE: Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evergreens (ph).

BASH: Seems like we're seeing the point that you were making, Jeff Zeleny, over and over again with every group of four we have a potential candidate for president on the Democratic side in 2020. That time was Amy Klobuchar. Interesting also you saw Tim Kaine, the senator from Virginia, who was the 2016 vice presidential candidate, was a running mate with Hillary Clinton, who thought maybe he was going to be the guy giving the oath as vice president as opposed to the guy taking the oath for another term as senator.

BASH: No, I think that's right.

One of the things that's going to be interesting to watch with this Congress is the generational shift and the generational divide. Particularly you look at, in the House, one of the youngest House classes to come in. And you -- you can also see that they understand social media in a way that we just haven't seen before. You think about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez inviting her millions of followers in to the sort of day to day goings on of Congress, her learning the ropes of Congress, her inviting them in to make, I think, mac and cheese in an Instapot, which I don't know if that's actually a good idea, but, hey. So that's going to be really interesting to watch because I think she is coming in, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as sort of the leader of the resistance, this progressive. It's going to be interesting to see what kind of waves she makes in the House and just more broadly with her profile, which is so huge at this point.

KAPUR: (INAUDIBLE).

[12:20:09] PACE: And there's an overlap, obviously, to what the Tea Party wave came in.

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: And those lawmakers on the Republican side were not afraid to buck their party leadership and how they position themselves with Pelosi --

BASH: Julie, I just want you and our viewers to see this next group includes Martha McSally, who lost her bid for Senate in Arizona, and yet was appointed to fill John McCain's seat. Let's listen.

PENCE: Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senator.

Congratulations, senator.

BASH: It is going to be an odd, you know, situation because you have these two women who ran against one another for what they thought was an open seat, one open seat, that was Jeff Flake's seat, in the U.S. Senate and then the woman who lost, Martha McSally, was appointed because, of course, John McCain passed away and the governor chose her.

But it is worth noting that Arizona never had any female senators and now --

HENDERSON: They have two.

BASH: Two at the same time. So -- so, very interesting.

You were talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she's right there on the bottom of the screen getting ready to be sworn in.

HENDERSON: And wearing -- yes, wearing white, notably, right? It's the color of suffragettes. And she sticks out, right? I mean you think about what Nancy Pelosi wore, that bright pink dress, which, again, sticks out in that sea of a lot of blue there with a lot of men in those suits, and even the women are wearing some darker colors. And there is AOC there in white knowing that she's likely going to stick out on camera in that color.

BASH: (INAUDIBLE).

HENDERSON: And there behind her I think is Lauren Underwood (ph), who's an incoming congressman as well.

BASH: And she's going to be the youngest member of the House.

KAPUR: Twenty-nine years old.

HENDERSON: Yes, she is.

KAPUR: The youngest woman ever elected. She has already made a splash. Her first move after Speaker Pelosi is sworn in is going to be voting against the House Democratic rules package because of an austerity provision that centrist Democrats demanded to make sure that legislation can add to the deficit. She has already made her mark. She has 1.7 million followers on Twitter and she's very aggressive at using that to advance her message and her agenda.

While you were playing images of the Senate, Dana, I just want to point out, the most significant thing I think they're going to do over the next two years is they're basically going to become a factory for confirming conservative judges. McConnell got 85 judges confirmed in the first two years and he's going to do a lot more of that with 53 Republicans.

BASH: A very good stat.

Let's watch this because the man who ran twice for president, thought he would be president, is now get -- about to be sworn in to the U.S. Senate, Mitt Romney, and two other new senators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, how are you?

PENCE: Great to see you, senator.

Congratulations. Nice to see you.

Step right up on that.

Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God? CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

BASH: There you see it, Senator Mitt Romney now from the state of Utah. And all the way to the right, the woman being sworn in was that other senator, new senator from Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who beat Martha McSally and yet they're both going to be representing Arizona together.

ZELENY: And this is why that this day is one of my favorite days in Washington, to watch Republicans and Democrats, old and new, standing alongside each other.

BASH: Yes.

ZELENY: And what a book end that is in our democracy. Mitt Romney on one said, as you said, he's been governor of Massachusetts, ran for president twice unsuccessfully, the Republican Party changed tremendously, now he's the Republican senator from Utah, the junior senator from Utah, we should point out. But on the other side of the screen, Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat from Arizona.

So this is something that I think is -- we, again, do not know how these members will interact. They seldom interact, frankly. That's why this day is so interesting. And we see the family members on the House floor there as they are sort of enjoying meeting each other.

But the Senate dynamic, as Sahil was pointing out, it is important. Democrats don't have the majority at all, but they can block what the president wants and what Mitch McConnell wants to appoint, except judges. They can't do that because of the rule change, of course. So that is something that we will see the Republicans able to do here.

[12:25:17] But I've lost track of the number of potential presidential candidates in that field.

HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: Mitt Romney --

BASH: If you were -- if you were playing a drinking game, you would be --

HENDERSON: You would be drunk, yes.

BASH: Under the table right now.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.

ZELENY: Right.

PACE: Well, and the Romney dynamic --

ZELENY: Sure.

PACE: In a presidential context also is really interesting --

KAPUR: Yes.

PACE: Based on the way he's just come out of the gate with this op-ed that was really critical of the president. And, you know, one of the things to watch on the Republican side in the Senate is that Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who were two of the president's rare Republican critics, are now gone.

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: Is Romney going to fully step into that role? Is he going to be that voice on the Senate floor. John McCain, you also mentioned, was a frequent critic, passed away last year. You know, is Romney going to be perhaps the lone Republican voice pushing back on Trump in this Congress?

BASH: And this is -- and this is -- look at what we're watching now. The first and -- well, I should say second because Congressman Delaney announced a long time ago, but the first member of the Senate to formally announce that she's exploring a run for president is now being sworn in as another term as senator, Elizabeth Warren. Let's listen.

PENCE: Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: Yes. I do.

PENCE: Congratulations.

BASH: So Elizabeth Warren next to Jon Tester, who had a hard fought battle to get his seat back in the state of Montana, largely because the president is so popular there, largely because the president fought really hard to defeat him and was not successful, as he was in other red states.

KAPUR: It's a small state where Tester was popular. He survived despite being a very red state. Joe Manchin, similar situation, small state, popular incumbent. They are among the few Democrats that survived this, you know, very, very difficult map.

To Julie's point, I just want to note that the president responded to Romney, said, is he a Flake? The question I have is --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KAPUR: Referring to Jeff Flake. The question I have is, is he going to be the Jeff Flake of the first 22 months or the Jeff Flake of the last two months. The first 22 months, someone who had a lot of criticism for the president, put out a lot of critical statements, but mostly voted with him every step of the way. But the last two months, he really put down a hard line saying, no new judges. I'm going to vote against every judicial nominee unless I get the Mueller protection bill.

BASH: And he, just this morning, stopped and talked to reporters on his way to the floor to get sworn in and was obviously asked about the op-ed and defended it saying, look, I, you know, yes, I did it before I was even sworn in, but I wanted to lay down a marker. I wanted to explain where I would be coming from, knowing that with John McCain gone, with people like Jeff Flake gone, with Bob Corker gone, and the list I'm giving are people who were openly critical of the president, tried to keep him in check, people with gravitas and with a voice, Romney understands that he's the guy left.

HENDERSON: Yes, and he asked for this spotlight, right? It's by -- it's not by accident that you had an op-ed in the "Washington Post" a couple days before you're sworn in.

I do think the question is, does he fully step into this role? And, in some ways, Romney doesn't really fully do anything. And even if you look at his relationship with Donald Trump, right, in 2016 -- in 2012, he asked for this endorsement and it was a big deal that Trump endorsed him in 2016. Very, very critical of the president, obviously. And then he almost, you know, he seemed to consider going into the administration. So it's been kind of back and forth, as is the case with Romney on many things.

BASH: Let's listen to the last two senators getting sworn in.

PENCE: Please raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, so help you God?

CROWD: I do.

PENCE: Congratulations, senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

BASH: That was Roger Wicker from Mississippi getting sworn in for another term and also Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, also another term.

[12:29:50] We are done with the Senate getting sworn in. We have a lot more to come as we watch the House floor just start to get up and running. Stick around. We're going to take a quick break. Don't go anywhere.

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