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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
House Reconvenes With Still No Speaker Elected; Interview With Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX); Now: House Votes To Adjourn Until Noon Tomorrow; House Adjourns Without Electing A Speaker. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 04, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Jake Tapper is joining me and we do not know at this moment whether the House is about to reconvene after Republicans for a second day tried and failed three more times to make Kevin McCarthy Speaker.
A short time later, they adjourned for what turned out to be a closed door talk between the would-be Speaker and his supporters and opponents.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But so far, nothing he has been able to say or do, nothing, has managed to sway any of the 20 GOP holdouts. Four hardcore opponents among them.
COOPER: We could be about to learn whether in fact there will even be another vote tonight. We want to go straight to CNN's Manu Raju with new reporting at the Capitol.
Manu, what are you hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, in a matter of minutes, the House will actually try to vote to adjourn for the night. That is the preferred course of Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy after talks behind closed doors with opponents of his, as well as some of his allies.
He believes they are making progress. He wants those talks to continue because if the vote were to happen tonight, he would almost certainly fail once again, to get the 218 votes to be elected Speaker.
So they need to actually have a vote, a majority vote of the House, 218 votes are needed to adjourn. Democrats are expected to vote against it. They want another vote to let McCarthy twist in the wind.
Some conservatives will look to see whether or not they decide to oppose it. But I'm told that the expectation among top Republicans that that adjournment resolution will pass tonight and they will return tomorrow.
Now I just caught up with Kevin McCarthy just moments ago, and he indicated a deal is not yet within reach, but progress is being made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You know, I think it's probably best that people work through some more and I think -- I don't think a vote tonight makes any difference, but I think the vote in the future will.
RAJU: Do you have a deal with those guys right now?
MCCARTHY: We don't have a deal yet, but a lot of progress.
REPORTER: Does that mean no vote tonight?
MCCARTHY: I don't voting tonight is productive. I think that people work no more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, in a positive sign for McCarthy, some of those opponents came out sounding positive, including Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, sounded -- that he said that their talks had been productive as well as Congressman Chip Roy.
They have been asking for some more power, some more sway over the Speakership and some of them had many big asks such as to encourage McCarthy's Super PAC to stay out of certain Republican primaries. They did -- the Super PAC did make and reached an agreement to do just that. That may have won over some, but still his path very narrow.
There are at least four Republicans who are almost certainly going to vote against him -- Bob Good, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert among them saying that they absolutely will not vote for Kevin McCarthy, including Matt Gaetz, so he can only look forward to lose four votes -- Republican votes.
One more says they will absolutely not vote for him. McCarthy cannot get there, which is why these talks are so critical, expected to continue through the course of the night until tomorrow if the House reconvenes at that time.
COOPER: Manu, I mean, he had already given up an awful lot just to get the votes that he has gotten thus far. How much more is there that he can give up on?
I mean, the anger of the Super PAC thing, obviously is based on the money he poured into candidates that the far-right, believe, you know, are angry that he was supporting during primaries?
RAJU: Well, that's the big question, how much more does he give? One of the things that they had asked for is to allow one individual to call for a vote to oust a sitting Speaker and Kevin McCarthy has agreed to come down to five individuals, that is down from the conference rules that require about half of the members to call for such a vote. That is one area that they're pushing for.
Also, they want some key Committee assignments, including on the powerful House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for floor debate over legislation. Those are some key issues that they have been negotiating. And it sounds like McCarthy is moving in that direction.
But the concern for him is that if he moves too far in that direction, he could lose some support from some more of the moderate members who do not want him to give in too much to the right wing of the conference.
So that is the balancing act of Kevin McCarthy as he negotiates with them. He has got to make sure he doesn't put off any of the other members, but they believe that they're making progress to get into 218. We'll see if they're able to do just that.
COOPER: Let's listen in.
CHERYL L. JOHNSON, CLERK, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The prayer will be offered by Chaplain Kibben.
MARGARET G. KIBBEN, CHAPLAIN, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Would you pray with me?
Build this House, oh Lord, lest all who labor therein do so in vain. Watch over our gathering this evening, lest we stay awake without purpose. Provide wisdom, discernment, and forbearance. Lest we eat the food of our anxious toil, and exhaust ourselves for nothing.
For You have called us together from the far reaching corners of this great nation, to uphold a vision founded on our belief in the fundamental rights endowed by you, oh God, our Creator.
And you have appointed each person here to represent this country's rich diversity of thought and experience, race and creed, that collectively, we would serve as a city on a Hill, a light to the world, revealing the strength and nobility to be found in our union.
Remind us that we fulfill this divine mission only when we acknowledge that we are meant to function as one body. Nothing you ordain can be accomplished without the trust in and respect for each other.
You have graced each of us differently, with passion and compassion, insight and oversight, voice and vote, that we would use these gifts to build up the larger body, which is these United States.
Deliver us from intransigence and impedance, free us from fear and control, that in our deliberations this night, the light that shines from the dome above us would clearly reflect the commitment we each make to freedom, justice, and peace in our world.
In the name of our guardian, guide and stay, we offer our prayer. Amen.
TAPPER: By now, the names of the hardcore so-called Never Kevin members are pretty well known. As Manu Raju mentioned a moment ago -- Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, and Bob Good.
Here are the entire 20 who have voted no so far. You can take a look. So if it comes to another vote, which Kevin McCarthy clearly does not want there to be tonight, you can tally off the names and see who if anyone has changed their mind. If not, we'll keep track of it for you.
Joining us now, not one of those 20, Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, who has voted now six times for Kevin McCarthy.
Congressman Sessions, thanks for joining us.
What's the latest you're hearing about what's going to happen?
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): Well, we're hearing this as you did, Jake, and that is that this negotiation that it took place with Mr. McCarthy was really a wide ranging viewpoint not just on his duties as Speaker here, but also his campaign activities as he would engage himself and the money that he collected across the country.
Also to the Rules Committee, as you'll recall, I spent 20 years on the Rules Committee, six years as its Chairman the last time we were in the majority and to substantively change those procedures that the Rules Committee would have, wide ranging viewpoints up into point of orders, votes that would be on the floor, things that would be available to any member, meaning the minority.
So it really seems like to me that the discussion is for the House to look more like the Senate. And as you know, they have a puncture --
TAPPER: Congressman, I'm sorry to interrupt, one second, we need to hear -- listen to the clerk for one second. I'm so sorry. I'll bring you back in a second.
JOHNSON: The yeas and nays are requested. A sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device.
TAPPER: ... vote on whether or not -- I believe this is a vote on whether or not to adjourn and reconvene until noon tomorrow. Congressman Sessions, let me let me bring you back. Is that your understanding of what the vote is, right? On a motion to adjourn?
SESSIONS: Yes, it is a motion to adjourn right now.
TAPPER: Yes. And Congressman Tom Emmer is recommending that House Republicans vote to adjourn until noon tomorrow. That's what the House Republican leadership is recommending. I'm sorry for interrupting. Go ahead, sir.
SESSIONS: That's okay, and I would be for that also, as we need that time. What I would say to you is that, the appearances of what we're talking about, of the Rules Committee, that the Chairman of the Rules Committee traditionally is literally the most powerful Chairman in Washington, DC, because they have the ability to self-execute bills, and that is to take bills that I'm sorry, amendments -- they have the ability to take things that may have been handled in Committee and completely changed them when I was Chairman on the Rules Committee that myself executed, which I did. I had an obligation and I told people, I would tell them, because it is hard to go through a hundred-page bill or a thousand-page bill, if someone doesn't tell you what has changed, because it's been vetted at the previous Committee.
But with that, also the Chairman of the Rules Committee can protect that and not allow it to a point of order, which many times is important, not just to change the law, but against procedures that necessarily people want to attack it on.
So it means that the majority cannot always have their way and each of these would be subject to a vote on the floor. Well, this is pretty much the way most Statehouses handle their business to where it is more bipartisan.
SESSIONS: So it would definitely be designed to have a less powerful not just Speaker, but a less powerful majority. So, it would mean the majority would be like a King with no clothes.
TAPPER: So right now, what's going on? Just for anyone just tuning in is earlier today, the House Republicans in the House of Representatives had a motion to adjourn until eight o'clock Eastern. Tonight, they have reconvened, and right now, they are voting on a motion to adjourn until noon tomorrow, noon Thursday, and House Republicans which are the majority, the leadership is recommending that Republicans vote to do that.
And you can see so far 122 Republicans have voted yay to adjourn until noon tomorrow, and Democrats are generally voting nay on that.
And Congressman Sessions, one of the things that's going on here is there has been talk about is there possibly going to be some other House Republican whose name gets thrown into the mix, who might be able to get to 218 and I'm wondering if you've heard anything.
I just heard from a House Republican who told me that there is scuttlebutt about somebody who has previously voted for Kevin McCarthy six times putting forward the name of Steve Scalise, Congressman Steve Scalise, and I'm wondering if you have heard that as if -- that that was a possibility for this evening.
SESSIONS: Well, I think the negotiation with Mr. McCarthy, if it's not successful, they'll be looking for the next able person who will agree with what Mr. McCarthy would not agree with, so you know once again, if Mr. McCarthy does not make it, his political operations become inconsequential.
What then becomes the same subject would be on Mr. Scalise.
So, once again, this is a very interesting process to go to, through that makes our majority less able and adaptive to be able to not only get our work done, but to, I guess, be powerful because it means every day whoever is the Speaker has to recheck with everybody on their vote.
That's what's done in the Senate, in an organization where you may have 50 on one side and 50 of another. A large organization makes it way cumbersome and way different.
So we'll see.
TAPPER: Four hundred thirty-five is definitely more difficult than a hundred.
SESSIONS: Yes, sir.
TAPPER: But one of the questions that this House Republican with whom I'm communicating is suggesting is that if Steve Scalise who is the number two House Republican, if his name was about to be nominated on the floor, is -- this is a question I'm asking you now -- is Republican Leader McCarthy's desire to not go forward with any more action tonight and to adjourn until noon tomorrow, is that at least partly to squash any efforts to put Steve Scalise's name on the floor of the House for a vote?
SESSIONS: Well, I don't think there's any question in my mind that Mr. McCarthy wants to be in a position of strength, and until the bitter end, until he had replied back and knew the answer of what was being asked for him and he would not want to move aside.
So at the point, he realizes that he may have ended his negotiation, it would become apparent to me that he would then move to Mr. Scalise. They are very close and very much the -- I guess, you could say the same in their philosophies.
TAPPER: When Kevin McCarthy says that progress has been made in negotiations, and I certainly find that credible when it comes to some of the rebels including Chip Roy of Texas, your fellow Texan, or even Congressman Bishop, do you -- is your understanding that the progress has been sufficient to get him to 218? Or is it just peeling off a couple of the 20?
Because as you know, there are at least four, maybe even five people that say they will never vote for Kevin McCarthy and I find it difficult to imagine any progress being made with them?
SESSIONS: Well, I would suppose that those five or six or seven will not ever vote for Mr. McCarthy and the other is based upon pure and simple negotiating skills and tactics and agreements.
So I would think that there -- it is still does not answer the full question, and they'd have to come back tomorrow and figure out what that is.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Pete Sessions, Republican of the Great State of Texas, thank you so much for joining us.
SESSIONS: You bet, Jake. Thanks.
TAPPER: I really appreciate it. And Jamie Gangel, so, I have been talking to this Republican Congressman, and I would hardly say that I heard anything from Congressman Sessions that makes me think like this other Republican Congressman is wrong, that there was talk of a McCarthy supporter, a tepid one, but a McCarthy supporter, bringing Steve Scalise's name.
And then one of the reasons that McCarthy wants to adjourn right now, is they want to squash this effort. And I'm taking -- it sounds like you're hearing the same.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And I think what you heard from Congressman Sessions there was a very carefully worded but nuanced, yes.
GANGEL: And the important thing is, they are moving forward with Scalise. It is being floated more and more.
I was told the reason that they were coming back at eight o'clock tonight, that Kevin McCarthy originally wanted to adjourn until tomorrow, and that between the Democrats and the 20 rebels there, those votes weren't there. They wanted to keep the pressure up. That's why we're back at eight o'clock now. Kevin still wants more time to get there.
But I'm hearing that it's -- he keeps saying there's progress, but there's no deal. That says it all, and session said five, six or seven.
TAPPER: That's the thing.
GANGEL: Hello? We've been doing the math. Five, six or seven.
TAPPER: He can only afford to lose four. I said there are five. Sessions upped it to seven.
GANGEL: Seven. Correct.
TAPPER: Who are going to vote for Kevin McCarthy.
GANGEL: And if you look at the list, it makes complete sense.
TAPPER: So look obviously if Steve Scalise is going to end up as the next Speaker and that's a big if.
TAPPER: But if that is going to happen Jonah Goldberg he can't do it in a way that is seen by Kevin McCarthy supporters as stabbing him in the back or the front. He needs to let it come to him in a way.
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and far, I think, you know, if that's his plan, his plan has been working just fine. You know, he's always had to appear like he's been loyal. And so far he's appeared like he's been loyal and haven't, he hasn't floated any trial balloons or anything like that, that we can discern. And his only way to the Speakership is for Kevin McCarthy's bid for the speakership to implode, and if you're Steve Scalise, that's not -- it is looking bad right now for that plan.
GOLDBERG: And there's nothing wrong with that. Right? I mean, like, they have apparently a testy but good relationship. And like, they, you know, he said, I'm going to support you to the end of until it's your call to bail out.
GOLDBERG: And if he bails out, then I think Scalise has always been the obvious alternative.
TAPPER: Right. And Abby, former Congressman Charlie Dent, said, I don't know if it was yesterday or a week ago. I don't even remember when it was. Let's assume it was yesterday, that he thought theoretically, it was going to end up with Scalise because the Republican Party is rooted in the South now. They're not rooted in California, even beyond the mistrust of Kevin McCarthy and all of that, that geographically, it makes more sense.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": I do think that that it actually is a part of this that we haven't really talked about a lot. The distrust of McCarthy goes deeper beyond just his seeming duplicitousness of the last couple of years.
I mean, he started out as a more moderate Republican and has tried to kind of move himself where the party has gone. And I think that that has mostly worked for him. But with this group, you know, I don't want to say that they're purists because I think a lot of them really honestly, it's really just about kind of giving a show of conservatism.
But I think it matters to them, that McCarthy really did not come from deep red stock when he first got to Congress. So I think that's part of it. Whether or not Scalise is from the south, I mean, he could be from, you know, the West. But as long as I think his ideology is more deeply rooted in conservatism, that makes them more comfortable.
I also think that he's just not named Kevin McCarthy. And that at this point, if his name were to come up, a lot of these members would vote for him, because it's an easy way to just get rid of McCarthy as an option and have another candidate. I don't think Scalise is going to have an easier time of it, but he's just more palatable at this particular time.
GOLDBERG: Also, the fact that he was shot. If you talk to a lot of House Republicans, they really value that talking point as a badge of credibility for Scalise. PHILLIP: They have this idea of democratic extremism. They want to be able to have this argument.
PHILLIP: That the extremism is on both sides and that incident with Scalise is a huge part.
KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, and let's also -- I mean, I don't want to -- I think we should be careful not to politicize that shooting too much. I take your point about how they view it as a Democrat who attacked him et cetera, and they can use it that way.
But the reality was, he handled that with such grit and such grace in the aftermath.
TAPPER: Sure, yes.
HUNT: But I think he earned a lot of respect from frankly, people on both sides of the aisle in how he came out.
TAPPER: He almost died. He almost died, yes.
HUNT: I mean, I covered that very closely, when it actually happened. And, you know, I think I developed a relationship with Scalise in covering him through that prism, and I think that there are other people who he wouldn't have necessarily built strong relationships with if he hadn't gone through that.
So I just -- I think we should consider that, and I do think it's absolutely relevant here.
I do think the smart political play for Scalise also is to do exactly what Jonah was describing, which is to sit and wait in the wings. Because if he does something that angers McCarthy's supporters, and there still are a bunch of them, right, who are standing by him, right. Those are the people he would need to become Speaker. So he needs this to happen to him.
And you know, there's a little bit of irony in this, too, because I doubt we have a picture of this that we can show our audience. But one of the things that's being passed around on the internet today is the cover of Kevin McCarthy's book, "Young Guns."
HUNT: Where he stands next to Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor and you may remember Eric Cantor was the first one to fall unexpectedly over the immigration issue as this divide in the Republican Party just absolutely exploded. Then Paul Ryan, of course, became Speaker; now has become, you know, a pariah to this wing of the party.
And now here, Kevin McCarthy was standing with them at the beginning of his career. He has tried to reinvent himself, do something different, and frankly, they still think that he's the guy on the cover of that book.
TAPPER: Yes, and just to make sure people understand or people notice it, that's Kevin McCarthy right there on the left side of your screen as Republicans en masse votes to adjourn until noon tomorrow.
And Dana Bash we've all been watching Kevin McCarthy now and he has gone from smiley happy warrior to in the last few hours, a very glum expressions on his face.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and just to touch on what you were asking Congressman Sessions about, which is the notion of why we're seeing this motion to adjourn right now. There is no question that it is because Kevin McCarthy doesn't want another embarrassing vote because if they don't adjourn, which might happen, there will be another vote.
But it is also because there are there are movements to push somebody else. Maybe it is Scalise. Maybe it is another potential candidate for Speaker. While that is happening, we don't know how real it is, but there are talks going on behind the scenes.
Chip Roy even who was on with you, Jake, yesterday, I believe, who is one of those holdouts is saying that they are so constructive that he might be able to get 10 people to come on board.
Now, we have all become mathematicians in the last few days. That's still not enough, because if you have 20, and then he gets 10, he still needs to convince six other people.
BASH: But these talks are real and the question is whether they are enough to get McCarthy over the edge. It's still hard to see the math.
TAPPER: It's hard to see the math -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jake, thanks very much.
The House vote to adjourn until noon tomorrow. We're waiting on that.
Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson; CNN political commentator, and former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, also CNN political analyst and "New York Times" senior political correspondent, Maggie Haberman.
Nia-Malika, do you think more time will help McCarthy here?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, listen, I think we've got to see if what Jake Tapper and his panel were talking about happens tonight. Is the Scalise play finally going to be introduced tonight? And does it make any difference with those hardliners? Is this a sort of opening gambit of the Scalise bid and will we see a sort of slow collapse of McCarthy's vote total? He obviously did not want this to happen tonight. We'll see what happens with the adjournment whether or not they're able to get it or not. We see where the Democrats are and we see what the Republicans are doing.
COOPER: Let's just listen to what they're saying.
Obviously, there is some confusion.
Congressman Dent, explain what is going on? And --
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, there is a motion to adjourn and it looks like the Republicans will prevail. There are four Republican no votes, I think they would need one more Republican nay vote.
COOPER: Now, here, let's listen in.
If you are confused at home, I think there are many people who are confused on the floor of Congress as well, particularly even the clerk right now. She seems somewhat baffled by what is going on.
See if there'll be any more clarity.
She hasn't turned her microphone on.
So, Congressman, Dent, is this normal?
DENT: No, it's not. What happened is the chief clerk closed out the vote and some members were upset that she closed it out sooner than they would have liked. Apparently, they were hoping a few people would change their votes. You know, if one more Republican were to, you know, become a no vote, then 214 to 214 would be a tie and it wouldn't pass, but it appears Republicans are going to prevail on the motion to adjourn at 216 to 213 right now.
Now, again, there might be a few outstanding votes. You can see there are still a few people, five people have not yet voted. Maybe they're waiting for those five to show up. That could be what's happening right now.
Again, I think the commotion was that the chief clerk was shutting down the roll call sooner than the Democrats would have liked. That's why there is some commotion.
She reopened the vote, so they are still voting, waiting for those four people assuming they are somewhere around the Capitol.
COOPER: Yes, they are clearly having mic issues there.
So Congressman Dent I mean, how does McCarthy then convince enough of the holdouts to change their votes? I mean, what more --
DENT: Yes, look, it appears that he might be making some progress based on what we're hearing, but he's got to move a lot more votes. He needs to --
COOPER: Let's listen in.
JOHNSON: On, this vote, the yeas are 2016, the nays are 214. Accordingly, the motion is adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until noon tomorrow.
COOPER: So they are adjourned until noon tomorrow. This begins again at noon.
Sorry, Charlie, I interrupted you. What does the Speaker do now? Or the wannabe Speaker.
DENT: Well, I think what Kevin McCarthy is going to do is they're going to keep going into these sessions and try to make concessions. Now, you hear some people say that they maybe have moved a few people. They have to move a lot of people.
By my count, they need 16, maybe 17 since Spartz is a present vote. They need her back. So they need to move them.
So let's say they move 10 people, they still have six or seven that they need. They know they can only lose four votes and it seems to me they still aren't near the number that they need.
If they lose the vote, you know, by five or 10, it doesn't matter. They lose in either case. So like I said, it sounds like they're making progress. It sounds like Chip Roy and maybe a few others are coming McCarthy's way.
But we'll see. We don't know. I don't know if there's been any kind of an agreement. They certainly haven't announced it publicly. So they're still negotiating. We'll see.
We'll see how far they get between now and noon tomorrow.
COOPER: I want to go to Manu Raju who is standing by.
Manu, what are you hearing?
RAJU: Yes, we'll get the names of the four Republicans who are voting against, who did vote against this motion to adjourn until noon tomorrow. That includes Congressman Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Elijah Crane, who is a new member, one of the 20, who have been voting against Kevin McCarthy.
So four of the opponents of McCarthy voted against adjourning. It's unclear where some of the other opponents are, Bob Good, not on that list. It's unclear if he did miss that vote. There are a handful of people who missed the vote. But we'll get a sense of what happened here.
So that gives you some idea of where things are. The hope among Kevin McCarthy is that tomorrow could be the decisive day. They really feel momentum finally shifting in their direction. They believe that Congressman Chip Roy has been essential, who has been opposed to him for all these ballots so far, now is signaling potentially getting behind him after a certain number of concessions McCarthy has made further in his direction.
I talked to Congressman Mike Cloud, who is a Texas Republican, someone who has opposed Kevin McCarthy through these six ballots. He told me that he is encouraged by the direction of the talks. Also Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican Leader of the House Freedom Caucus, someone who has opposed Kevin McCarthy also sounding positive, saying the talks have been encouraging so far.
But still very little margin for error from McCarthy there and just showing you, they barely got the votes to simply adjourn until tomorrow, let alone to elect the next Speaker, so still significant work for McCarthy. But noon tomorrow will be a key moment. That will be the time in which Kevin McCarthy if he loses more votes, if he does not make any progress, will face even more questions about his path to the Speakership.
But they hope between now and then, a deal can be iced. I asked McCarthy, can you get the deal tomorrow? He said, I don't want to put any timeframe on it. But he'd said that talks have been productive. So, he is confident they're moving in his direction -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. I want to go to Melanie Zanona. Thank you, Manu. I want to go to Melanie Zanona who has got some new information. What are you hearing, Melanie?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, so, there are some glimmers of hope, as Manu said, and we have some evidence to back that up.
Chip Roy, who has been in these negotiations with McCarthy allies and McCarthy holdouts told GOP leadership that he believes he can bring along 10 members as long as these negotiations pan out. And he also says that he believed that there are additional holdouts who might be willing to vote present.
Now, of course, that is a big if. They would at first have to have these negotiations, be successful, and then all those 10 members would have to vote yes and even if that were to happen, if we were to see movement, doing the math here, that doesn't get McCarthy to 218. So he would still have a lot of work to do.
But there's a lot of reason for optimism and we did see one very significant breakthrough just in the last hour or so. That is that a McCarthy aligned PAC has agreed to not play in primaries, open primaries in safe districts. That is something that conservatives have been asking for and asking for. It's a really big deal.
McCarthy had resisted up until now. I mean, obviously the PAC made this deal on its own. McCarthy technically can't control spending decisions made by the PAC, but it obviously had his blessing and so conservatives see this as a big win for them. They are excited about this.
[20:30:09] Jim Jordan says he thinks this does help and that this is going to move some votes, but there is still certainly more work to do. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I have no doubt about it. Maggie Haberman, I want to go to you. I mean, what's interesting about the backdrop of this is you're have the former president, Donald Trump, making a public endorsement of McCarthy today, saying he supports McCarthy. And what he doesn't support is allowing this chaos to continue. That doesn't seem to have changed any minds. In fact, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who, you know, has been down to Mar-a-Lago and is kind of a creation of Trump world in many regards, dissed him, essentially, saying that he has it all wrong.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, Anderson. There is an element of a fear factor that's just not present right now for Donald Trump with these members. You know, it's worth recalling, Anderson, that this energy, this House Freedom Caucus energy, grows out of the Tea Party, which predates Donald Trump, that Donald Trump seized on it and Donald Trump capitalized on it and fueled it and benefited from it and found common cause with these folks. But he didn't create this kind of energy in the House, and I think that he believes he did. I think he believes that these are all just people who like him and will do whatever he wants. They're not seeing it that way right now. If anything, McCarthy actually lost one vote after Trump reissued his support this morning.
Now, look, if McCarthy ends up getting a deal and becomes the speaker, Trump will claim credit. He will say he was there all along. If McCarthy loses support, Trump will be quick to support whoever looks like he's going to be the winner, because that's how Trump behaves. He goes, you know, where he sees the wind blowing. It'll be no different. This says more about McCarthy than it does about Trump, what's happening in the House right now. But it's not a good sign for Trump. He appears weak, and he didn't have to. He jumped into this.
COOPER: He also appears just isolated in a beach resort, a golfer club in Mar-a-Lago. I mean, he's not part of this at all.
HABERMAN: No, look, he is part of it to the extent that he's been making calls. Actually, my colleagues and I reported a couple of weeks ago that he was making whip calls on McCarthy's behalf, and he was surprised --
COOPER: Lauren Boebert said that she got a call from him.
HABERMAN: Right. He was surprised that he was finding that he wasn't actually getting anywhere with folks. Now, I think initially he wasn't doing that hard to sell, but he got there and did do a stronger push on McCarthy's behalf. He has been running, you know, some -- a campaign that has looked nothing like anything we've seen him do before. He announced his candidacy in November, right after a midterms that were a disappointment for Republicans. Even when they won the House, it was by a very slim majority. They are now proceeding to make Nancy Pelosi the person that Republicans reviled over the course of the last more than a decade. They're highlighting why she was able to get stuff done and why she was effective. This is the opposite of where Republicans want to be, and Trump, you know, makes everything about himself. Yet, to your point, he's been doing nothing. He is something of a diminished presence.
Now, again, he's the only declared Republican presidential candidate right now, so we can't say he's off the stage entirely, but he is not commanding at all the way we have been used to in Republican politics over the last six years.
COOPER: Yes. It's -- I mean Nia-Malika, I mean, it's fascinating to see kind of the winds of change and they're not blown in the direction of the swamp of Mar-a-Lago.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that's right. Lauren Boerbert out there getting on the floor of the House and name checking Donald Trump and essentially saying, you're wrong to back Kevin McCarthy. You should actually be asking him to withdraw from the race was a real movement and a real moment, I think, for his movement and a sign that it has diminished a bit.
I also think, though, that he isn't really pressing on them as much as he could. Right. He's not threatening them. He's not saying, you know, I will put somebody up against you, for instance, a primary challenger, for instance. So, he isn't going that far. But the fact that he can't even move Lauren Boebert at this point is, I think, a sign of his diminishment. I do think we should highlight that in some ways Kevin McCarthy, I think, had a better day today than he did yesterday. There are some signs that he's being able to peel some of these folks away, certainly not the never Kevin core, which is five, six, seven people, which would still be enough to block him.
So, you know, the fact that they were able to get this adjournment tonight was, I think, a good sign for Kevin McCarthy. And we'll see what happens overnight with these discussions with Chip Roy. He said he can bring maybe ten folks along. Again, you still have seven, eight people, ten other people or so that they've got to talk to see if he can seal this deal.
COOPER: Yes. Jake, a lot of very tired people at Capitol Hill today eager to go home.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A lot of very, very tired people, no question. But I do want to go to Manu Raju, who I heard just talk to the man of the hour, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. And, Manu, what I'm hearing from the speaker or the would-be Speaker's team is that real progress is being made.
RAJU: Yes. And that's how he feels. He has he's been sounding upbeat this whole time. Even if he's gone down vote after vote, he's been upbeat, but this time no different. Actually, the mood has certainly changed in McCarthy's camp. They certainly don't have the votes yet. He himself acknowledges that he said does not have a deal yet, but he does believe there has been movement. He pointed to the deal that his outside group cut with another conservative group, the Club for Growth, to essentially allow his Super Pac or ensure that a Super Pac does not engage in competitive, open primary seats that are safe Republican seats. That's a lot of words for saying that he's moving in the direction that conservatives want. He said that was a big development. He wouldn't get into other details about what they may have agreed to. I asked him whether they have agreed to the idea of what's called known on Capitol Hill's motion to vacate, which essentially to eject a sitting speaker from his position. If one member calls for such a vote, they would have to get a majority of the House to get that. That's what conservatives have been demanding. McCarthy would not say if he has come to their position on that issue or other issues such as giving them key committee assignments.
But he did indicate that he is having productive discussions. He said they were going to have more discussions from tonight until tomorrow at noon. He didn't predict that he would have the votes by tomorrow at noon, but that is going to be a critical moment.
Also, question is, what does Byron Donalds do, the Florida Republican, the person who has been nominated to run, the person who has been siphoning off those 20 votes to all day today, will he continue to be a candidate tomorrow? I asked McCarthy if he has asked Donalds to drop out of the race. He said no, he hasn't. But Donalds had told me earlier that he did plan to talk to McCarthy today. So that discussion will be critical to ultimately getting a resolution. McCarthy knows he has virtually no margin for error here, but they believe at the moment things are moving in their direction after days of losing vote after vote, they believe they could potentially get there as soon as tomorrow.
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much.
And so, let me -- let's just dissect Dana Bash, I'll start with you. This it sounds obscure, but it's actually relatively important. There is supposedly an independent leadership Pac that Kevin McCarthy has endorsed, although, of course, there's no coordination.
TAPPER: Right. And this --
BASH: There's a bunch of McCarthy people who work there, right?
TAPPER: Right. A bunch of McCarthy people work there. So, this independent leadership Pac goes out there and gives money to incumbent Republicans and races. What the Rebels and the Club for Growth, which is a Koch brothers' organization that is very MAGA right now. What they wanted is a pledge from this McCarthy back Super Pac, don't -- not only should you can continue to back incumbent Republicans, but if there's an open seat in a Republican district, don't play at all. Why? Tell me why.
BASH: Because they feel that they are at a disadvantage with money and in every other way politically in these campaigns when they are up against, a, from their point of view, an establishment group that has a ton of money.
BASH: And has a ton of influence. And when I use the pronoun they, I'm talking about, like, in many of these cases, like minded Republican candidates, like minded to the Boeberts of the world --
TAPPER: The MAGA caucus. Right.
BASH: But it's like MAGA plus, plus
TAPPER: The Ultra Super MAGA (INAUDIBLE).
BASH: I mean I don't even know, I mean we have to come up with a new name for it. Maybe by the end of this we will.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like Mega MAGA?
BASH: Mega MAGA.
TAPPER: Mega MAGA.
BASH: And so that's one of the reasons. There are other things --
TAPPER: They want more Mega MAGA in Congress.
BASH: Yes, yes.
TAPPER: They don't want --
BASH: And they feel --
TAPPER: -- Kevin McCarthy going in there and picking a more establishment.
BASH: Because if you kind of take a step back and look at the makeup of the House, the Democrats and the Republicans, they have very gerrymandered, very solidly blue, solidly red districts for the most part. And in these red districts, whoever wins the primary wins the seat. And so, that's why who plays in these primaries is the ball game for these Republicans.
BASH: And you're exactly right. They want to have more like minded Republicans who end up in Congress and this is (INAUDIBLE) --
TAPPER: And McCarthy said, uncle fine.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, yes, but like why are we -- why did we only get here now after six of these ballots? And why is this something that he hasn't caved in on before? And that's because this also matters in open swing seats, right? Where there's a Republican, where the Republicans are trying to get the majority. And that's what Kevin McCarthy has spent his entire career focused on. TAPPER: And I think this pledge is just on safe Republican seats. Am I wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the word safe. I mean there's going to be an argument (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: What does that mean say --
BASH: Also, there aren't that many swing seats left anymore.
HUNT: There are not.
HUNT: But either way, they've also come to focus on and this has really been the central grievance of a lot of these anti-McCarthites (ph) or these anti-establishment types in the House the entire way along, that the establishment comes in and crushes their candidacies before they have a chance to get off the ground. And a couple of them have made them into Congress anyway. like Bob Good, it's part big part of the reason why he is angry and Kevin McCarthy --
TAPPER: But that was a convention in Virginia. That's a hold up.
HUNT: It's another thing.
PHILLIP: This is part two of this wing of the Republican Party taking completely different lessons away from the party's electoral losses of 2022 and 2020 and 2018 and.
TAPPER: The wave that was just a trickle.
PHILLIP: The wave that was a trickle. They are interpreting the same facts in radically different ways. And it's not totally different from what you might see at times on the left when, you know, maybe the progressives will say, well, if we just had more of us, we would better off, the American people would support us. I think that's where some of these ultra conservative mega MAGA folks feel. But the problem, if you're Kevin McCarthy, even in a safe Republican seat, what happened in this last cycle when you have crazies running for Congress --
PHILLIP: -- it affects the entire brand. It infects the entire atmosphere of an election cycle. Democrats in this past cycle successfully ran on Republicans being too extreme. And so, it matters whether it is a deep red district or a swing district. The candidates do matter even beyond the four corners of that district.
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think I was absolutely correct about that, and I agree with all of this analysis. The thing that drives me crazy is that there is this widespread myth among many of my conservative brethren that being electable makes you more moderate, that being electable makes you part of the establishment. There is no freaking establishment. If there was an establishment, this wouldn't be happening right? There's Mitch McConnell and that's about it, right? Donald Trump is the establishment of the Republican Party to the extent that there is an establishment. But these guys, they have this fantasy, this sort of Don Quixote fantasy that like the Nelson Rockefellers of the world are not only still alive, but like running everything.
If Kevin McCarthy, who I'm a huge critic of and is, you know, is not reliable and I understand why conservatives are disliked and all sorts of things and why some moderates dislike them, but Kevin McCarthy would be, by almost any objective measure, one of the two or three most conservative Republican speakers in U.S. history, at least for the last hundred years. Paul Ryan was the most conservative speaker. This idea that being part of the establishment makes you a rhino squish loser is this fantasy that these guys are getting high on their own farts and like Fox green rooms on, is nonsense. It's actually -- and this is how you turn what should be a majority party into a minority party into a rump party.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's the first, by the way, but --
TAPPER: I'm not going to ask you which fart.
GANGEL: It's super going to -- Kevin McCarthy, to your point, would also be speaker at this point and wouldn't have be on facing a 7th ballot. I just like to go back to the prayer that started this evening. It was very specific. It began, lest we stay awake without purpose.
TAPPER: Right. I saw some Democrats giggling about that.
GANGEL: Right. Work together, deliver us from intransigence.
HUNT: That was my favorite line. And impudence. Intransigence and impudence.
TAPPER: But I think Abby's point is a very salient one. Everybody's point is a salient one. But the idea that, like the idea that more mega MAGA candidates is the solution is an interesting one. And also, it is so short sighted of Kevin McCarthy to give in on this deal, even though also, by the way, this is an independent Super Pac. There's not supposed to be any coordination, but nobody cares anyway because nobody at the Federal Election Commission but that enforces that law.
GOLDBERG: Remains. Getting to this point about not learning the lessons from 2022. If Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy were allowed to sit in a room and figure out who the candidate, the GOP candidate, should be in the last election, Mitch McConnell would be the majority leader in the Senate.
GOLDBERG: Kevin McCarthy could write off a lot of these no votes because he would have a big enough majority.
BASH: That's right.
GOLDBERG: But the Republican Party has determined to -- it's like I think one of the best heuristics for understanding American politics sometimes is to think these parties are doing some of the things they're doing because they're determined to be minority parties, but they would rather be pure and raise money off of their purity than compromise by actually putting competitive candidates in swing and competitive districts. And the GOP is really --
BASH: Raising --
GOLDBERG: -- ground down into this.
BASH: Raising money. That part of your sentence is key.
BASH: Because there are, I mean there are institutions on both sides of the aisle, but they're much more fervent right now, I think, on the Republican side that exist for one reason and one reason only to cause problems, to throw bombs, and to raise money off of it. And it's the small donors, small dollar donors, and that ends up being the base and the fringes, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
HUNT: Well, and Jonah, I mean you said this last night we were talking about this. I mean this stopped being about ideology a long, long time ago. I mean, just Chip Roy, we could sit here and explain, what does Chip Roy want from this process? And he's got these demands, and there are probably some people that would follow him who agree. Like, Matt Gaetz isn't in this because he cares about some policy, right?
HUNT: And that's what this used to be about. That's what this split started off as, you know, years ago. And with the rise of Donald Trump, all of a sudden you've got all these members who saw what Trump did. He became a celebrity, and they think that they can do it too, and that's all they care about.
TAPPER: One other note I want to make because we're talking about the, the progressive wing of the party, the mega MAGA wing of the party. There's all this talk in the last couple of days of, are the Democrats going to do anything to help Kevin McCarthy? To -- is there going to be some compromise candidate who governs from the center? Are the Democrats going to do and in fact, Congressman Paul Gosar, the white supremacist adjacent Republican from Arizona, we saw him talking on the floor of the House with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was quite a sight and has launched a thousand lip reading memes that have been amusing.
But what I'm told he was asking about is that McCarthy forces were telling the rebels, he's a rebel. The Democrats are going to vote present so as to bring down the threshold so McCarthy can win. And Gosar wanted to know if that was true. And why would Democrats do anything to help? A, they love this. They're literally eating popcorn and watching this. B, all of these rule changes that the Republican conservatives are demanding, the progressives want to they also want the process liberalized. They also want an easier way to strip things out of bills and amend it and have an open debate.
BASH: She said something like, OK, if you give me a committee chairmanship.
TAPPER: Right, right.
BASH: Have you imagine Paul Gosar saying, sure, Alexandria (INAUDIBLE) --
PHILLIP: I will say this is as a point of contrast, it's important to note the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is incredibly fervent. But what they've demonstrated, especially in the last two years, is a willingness to do what the MAGA wing of the Republican Party is not willing to do, which is to play with the team.
PHILLIP: And (INAUDIBLE) wins. And that has been, I think, one of the most important developments in the last couple of years, because it didn't have to be that way. They were fully expecting Nancy Pelosi's five seat margin back in 2020 to end in disaster, and it didn't because they all understood the politics of the situation and knew that being on board with the rest of the team would give them more benefits. The Republicans are not going that route, and I don't think that's going to change anything.
TAPPER: It's not just about Republicans, though, Anderson. There is something specific to Kevin McCarthy as a figure, as a singular figure, versus a Nancy Pelosi. I don't know if there is a Nancy Pelosi of the right of the Republican Party, but it certainly isn't Kevin McCarthy. And by that I mean somebody who can unify the party and be feared.
COOPER: Yes. And Nancy Pelosi certainly was feared and was able to instill fear in others and get results based on that.
I want to check in with Melanie Zanona, who is, I know, getting some more information about who Kevin McCarthy was meeting with. What do we know?
ZANONA: Yes. So, in addition to the negotiations involving Chip Roy and some of McCarthy's allies, I'm told that Kevin McCarthy has also met with a group of freshman Republicans who voted against him. And during this meeting, he basically just reiterated some of the promises that he's already made and walked through some of the concessions in greater detail. But really, it was an opportunity for face time with these freshman members. They have not had the opportunity to be in the room and to be in the negotiations with Kevin McCarthy like the other members have. A lot of these negotiations were taking place prior to now, especially in the last few weeks.
And so, for McCarthy, it was another opportunity to try to win over some of these holdouts. And so, it really offers a window into McCarthy's thinking and into his strategy right now. He really feels determined. He is hunkered down. He's trying to meet with as many people as possible, but he also knows that it's going to take every single vote he can get. He has no margin for error. And so, it is going to come down to getting to know each and one of these each and every one of these members. What do they want, what is it going to take to get them to either vote for him or to vote present.
But still a lot of work to do. But for McCarthy, this is a sign that potentially things could be moving in the right direction for him.
COOPER: And I assume he will be -- I mean does he stay on Capitol Hill late into the night? Does he work the phone? What are the logistics? Do we know?
ZANONA: Yes, well, if last night is any indication, they probably will be here late. They've already adjourned. There probably will be a mix of meetings and phone calls and negotiations are going to continue. They don't have them a chime because they're going to adjourn again tomorrow at noon and they are hoping at that point to be able to vote and at least show some progress, even if Kevin McCarthy can't get there on the next ballot tomorrow. For McCarthy, it is all about showing that momentum and they want to be able to flip.
As I reported a little bit ago, Chip Roy says he believes that if these negotiations pan out that he can bring along ten members. So that would really cut down the opposition, would be a huge sign of momentum for Kevin McCarthy. It would stave off, you know, potentially people stepping in or people trying to encourage McCarthy to drop out. So, he really needs this. But the next 24 hours are going to be critical. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Melanie Zanona, I appreciate it. I hope you get some sleep tonight as well.
Let's go to Charlie Dent, who is standing by. So, Congressman, you have -- I mean you've been watching this along with all of us. What needs to happen in these hours tonight and before the Congress starts back into session tomorrow?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me first say, Anderson, I am stunned by this concession on the Super Pac not getting involved in open primary races and supposedly safe seats. You know, you and I were sitting there listening for two days. The people talk about opening up the process on the floor of the House of Representatives, 72 hours, rules, more transparency. And what was the deal? Don't get involved. They don't want Kevin McCarthy Super Pac to get involved in primaries. What does that have to do with the rules? Frankly, by not getting involved in primaries, you'll end up electing more of these ultra MAGA candidates who will be part of that group who don't want to govern. You'll just grow that group of 20 people. I mean, I just think that's a terrible concession to make. And frankly, it has nothing to do with these supposed high-minded rules changes this chaos caucus is demanding. This is just an outright naked political demand.
COOPER: That's something that Chip Roy in particular has been focusing on saying that he's very interested in these rules changes. You're saying, I mean do you believe him?
DENT: No. Well, it sounds to me like, oh, great, the Super Pac is not going to try to stop more of our ultra MAGA guys who have a hard time winning general elections. You know, this -- they don't want McCarthy to back more establishment-oriented candidates, people who are more electable. They want more far right candidates to get nominated and hopefully elected, and they'll become part of this group that doesn't want to govern. I mean, this is really stunning. I mean, this is really Kevin McCarthy's challenge. He has some groups, a big group of people here who do not want to govern. You're simply going to grow that group with that concession.
But again, it has nothing to do with these rules changes --
DEN: -- that we've been hearing about the last few days.
COOPER: And Nia-Malika, I mean, Kevin McCarthy certainly did through that Pac pour a lot of money into House races, primary battles this last election.
HENDERSON: Yes, it was something like $350,000,000. And that's one of the reasons why some of these folks are so mad at him. And in a later a couple of days ago, that's what they highlighted as something that he wasn't willing to concede. He wasn't willing to concede that he was not going to have this Super Pac play in these primaries. So, this is certainly a victory for their side. You know, as much as we may be able to see McCarthy doing better over the next hours and votes, it's also true that the 20 are going to be doing better too. They are going to be getting more and more concessions, growing their power, eventually probably growing their ranks in the caucus as well. So, you know, even if McCarthy ends up winning, the House Freedom Caucus is going to win as well. He's going to be a very weak speaker. He's going to beholden to this far right group that is going to be able to yank the speakership from him with just five votes if they don't get their way.
So, you know, this is something that the moderates were worried about initially, and you saw McCarthy try to hold the line on some of these. But at this point, it looks like he's going to have to give away several stores at this point to appease this group of folks. They are playing this, I think, very, very smartly. They know that at this point, they are driving the bus. They are the ones that hold of the key to Kevin McCarthy getting the speakership, and they will be the ones to hold the key to him maintaining the speakership. So, he's going to constantly have to play to this crowd of folks.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, do you think the former president down in Mar-a-Lago continues to make calls, or does he wait to see which way the wind blows tomorrow?
HABERMAN: I think he's in a lot of touch with McCarthy, and there's a lot of overlap between Trump's advisors and McCarthy's advisors. So, I think it's important to note that there is, you know, a concerted activity between both groups. I think that Trump is going to make some calls to people where he thinks it's not going to burn him. I think if he thinks that he is going to be able to pressure certain people who seem like they're soft, he will. I saw Ralph Norman apparently told reporters that he is voting for Donalds again tomorrow. I don't think that would be someone who Trump would call, although Trump did call him previously to try to push him. But I think that Trump is going to watch and see how this plays out.
And, you know, look, I think Trump got dragged into this publicly in the last day beyond what he intended. He picked up his cell phone when a reporter called at least one, possibly two, and then he was forced to issue a stronger statement that he meant to. He likes to have a foot in every camp, and he likes to then be able to say, look, that's really where I was.
And so, his -- you know, there are a lot of members who are opposed to McCarthy who are interpreting what Trump said as if it's mealy mouth. You know, they're looking at this endorsement as if, well, it's not full throated. He's not attacking Matt Gaetz, he's not attacking any of the holdouts. Trump is going to, I think, recalibrate if it looks like this is going south. But everybody around Trump continues to insist they think McCarthy will get there.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman. Nia-Malika Henderson, Charlie Dent. thanks so much.
We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in just a moment and a lot more news ahead.