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The Lead with Jake Tapper
McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On Third Speaker Ballot; Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) Is Interviewed About House Speaker Election; Sources: GOP Hard-Liners Discussing Making Motion To Adjourn; Now: House Adjourns After McCarthy Rebuked On Third Ballot; Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) Is Interviewed About House Speaker Election. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 03, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
For the first time since 1923, that is 100 years, the vote for House speaker has gone to multiple ballots, leaving Republican leader Kevin McCarthy without enough votes to secure his dream job, at least as of the third ballot, which ended a few minutes ago. How long will rebellious Republicans drag out the votes or end up with a new candidate?
Let's bring in one of the now 20 rebellious Republicans, Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the House Freedom Caucus nominated Congressman Jim Jordan for the speakership on the third ballot.
Congressman Roy, thanks for joining us. You have been pretty vocal about your opposition to McCarthy to be speaker. You nominated Jim Jordan this third round. You voted for Byron Donalds on the first run. You do seem a little different from some of your other rebels, though, and that you seem actually focused on a set of principles and rule changes that you want to see enacted as opposed to having a personal animus against Kevin McCarthy. Do you agree with that assessment or no?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Yes, first of all, thanks for having me on. I think that's pretty close to correct. I would take some issue with saying that I've been in constant opposition to McCarthy as much as trying to offer changes that I think are paramount to make the House work again. That is, by the way, bipartisan criticism. We haven't had an amendment offered an open debate on the floor of the House since May of 2016.
We cannot keep spending money we don't have. We cannot continue to allow our border to be wide open, endangering Americans and immigrants. We cannot keep business as usual going, it's failing the country. And everybody agrees, frankly, both sides of the aisle.
So, I've got differences of opinion with colleagues across both sides of the aisle. But the one thing we need to do is change. We need the leadership and the tools to stop the swamp from running over and stepping all over the American people who want change in this town. So that's what I've been pushing for. There's still some things that might change that I could get there. But right now I'm holding the line because I think we need this place to operate differently. And that's not a partisan statement. It's just something that I believe.
TAPPER: So you want an open amendment process, which has happened in the past, but obviously, leaders of Congress, especially in the majority partner don't like it because they don't like to -- it's losing control of what's going to happen and what's going to be in the legislation. You want an open amendment process. What else would you want to see happen in order for you to get to yes for Kevin McCarthy or whoever -- well, let's just say Kevin McCarthy.
ROY: Yes, sure. We're putting aside personalities. Just take that out of it and just say what would get me to yes is I need to make sure that the Rules Committee is structured in such a way that those of us who are, what I would call fiscal conservatives who want to stop the train of the swamp, right, the power brokers, the defense industrial complex, if you will, plus the nondefense discretionary, you know, folks on the other side of the aisle who want to spend more money, they all come together as you know, you follow this town closely.
We just saw it happen with a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill. Without debating the merits of any particular substance in the bill, we can't keep doing that. It was a 10percent increase in defense, a 6percent increase in non-defense discretionary, 45 billion for Ukraine, 41 billion for emergency spending. None of that extra spending was paid for.
So, when are we going to stop that? So, we can't stop that if we don't have the tools in the Rules Committee to stop it. I'd love to have open debate. I'd love to have more amendments. The 72 hours rule you were just talking about, that's all good stuff.
But I got to take issue with one thing that Jamie (ph) talked about just a minute ago, which she was still on, because I don't want to talk about her in the third person, but she said that were asking for things for personal handouts, spots on committees.
TAPPER: But she wasn't talking about you. She wasn't -- we were very clear to distinguish you from others. We talked about how your opposition was based in principle, having to do with rules. We're talking more about the meeting between McCarthy and Gaetz, Boebert and Perry.
ROY: But if I might offer a defense of them, what was offered or at least meant to be offered was a response to the request from Kevin, hey, we need actual names to know what you want on certain committees. So, for example, we put my name on the Rules Committee. Jake, I don't want to be on the Rules Committee if I don't have to because you got to fly up on Sunday and I want to be with my family on Sunday night in Texas, but I offered to do it in order to try to advance the ball.
Andy Biggs didn't want to be on Appropriations, but we put his name on the list. My point is that was offered in good faith. It's unfair for Jamie to say that and then to say, oh, they want their goodies. These other guys have worked so hard.
Jake, how do you think people get committees in this town? How about NRCC contributions? How about how they play in terms of fundraising? Everybody says, oh, we can't talk about how fundraising is connected to power, but you know and I know how this town works, and it is. We're trying to break the back of that. We're trying to say that we need -- they say, oh, it's a meritocracy.
Where's the meritocracy with all due respect to Jamie? I disagree with that. We're trying to fundamentally change the institution and importantly have the tools and the leader ownership to stop the D.C. complex from jamming through a big bill like we saw just happen in December.
TAPPER: So, how does this end? Because where we have last landed was Kevin McCarthy has actually lost a vote. He was at 203 for the first ballot in the second ballot, now he's at 202. The rebels, you included, were at 19, 19, and now you're at 20. What do you think is going to happen in the fourth? Do you sense that there is momentum towards Jim Jordan away from Kevin McCarthy? Because the Republicans we've spoken to with the exception of Congressman Donalds, who are supporting Kevin McCarthy, they say they're not going to blink either.
ROY: Well, I don't know and I can't predict it. I know what I'm hearing from a lot of folks who are interested in breaking and increasing the ranks of people who are willing to think about a different path. I hope what will happen is that we will demonstrate that we're all convicted, that we need a different approach, and then maybe we'll have an adjournment and then go step aside and let's go talk about it. That's the way things ought to operate.
I've been having conversations with friends on both sides of the aisle about if we do a fourth round, do we then break and adjourn and then go have a discussion? You've been studying the history, you and I were talking about it offline. I've looked at the history. This isn't actually new. It has been 100 years.
But you know what's important about that, Jake? It has -- it's been 100 years because the two party system is so entrenched in this town that we don't actually -- we're not able to actually use our power as a single member of Congress to go to the House floor and have debate.
I opened my speech a minute ago saying, so this is what a full chamber looks like in debate, right, because we never do that anymore. And I think that's what needs to change. That's one of the things that needs to change.
TAPPER: One thing I wonder about is, you know, some of the things you talk about wanting not just rules changes, including an open amendment process, and not just having committees just jam things full of goodies from lobbyists and the rest, but some of the other things you talk about in terms of the military, industrial complex, et cetera, like, I am quite sure that there are Democrats you could get to vote for some of those provisions if you were willing to sit down and offer a bipartisan legislation. Now, you're a very hard line conservative, is that something you would be willing to do in the majority? Because I bet you would be able to find votes there that you are not able to get from other House Republicans.
ROY: Well, as you know, I've not been afraid to reach across the aisle. I passed the PPP Flexibility Act a few years ago and have joined with Abigail Spanberger to offer legislation on stock trading. I've done a couple of others that, did a bill with Hakeem Jeffries, believe it or not. And so, I'm always happy to have that conversation, but I'm always going to start with principle, right?
Are we increasing spending? Are we going to be passing more laws that I think constrict freedom and powering bureaucrats down in Washington? And I don't want to do that. I think that, you know, to your point, there is a path for us to be able to sit down. But it begins and ends for me with being able to say no to the powers that be in this town, deciding everything for us.
Take Ukraine, for example. Why didn't we just have a separate vote on Ukraine? I support supporting Ukraine, but I want to actually have accountability, know it's paid for, know where it's going, and I want it to be separate from the $1.7 trillion monster spending bill. We should do that. That's the way it's supposed to work from the old school -- you know, Schoolhouse Rocks video. We're supposed to get down, debate it, let's vote on Ukraine, then let's vote on emergency spending, then let's vote on appropriations bills for defense, then let's vote on some other spending.
And, oh, by the way, how about we pay for it? Crazy idea. And I think we should put everything on the table, roller sleeves up and do that.
TAPPER: So, what you're saying all sounds reasonable to many of our viewers, I'm sure. But the problem is that the 19, 20 rebels are not all Chip Roy. And some of them, at least in the views of some of your fellow conservatives, like Jonah Goldberg right to my left here are just nihilists and maybe individuals who seem more interested in social media or Fox News clicks than actual governance. Again, I'm not talking about you.
And in fact, one of the reasons, as you know, that the $1.7 trillion massive omnibus spending bill passed and why so many Republicans in the Senate were willing to vote for that is because they were afraid that House Republicans are unable to govern, which is something that, I don't know if I were Mitch McConnell right now, that you guys have changed anyone's mind today on that.
ROY: Yes, but here's the actual dirty little secret, right? It was never about the speaker's vote. Everybody in town knows what was being said in the Senate meeting rooms, right? Mitch McConnell was saying, hey, when they have a debate about spending in February or March, we think that there'll be pushback on the spending bills. He's correct.
But at the end of the day, that was what the fight was over. And that's what I want all of conservative America out there to understand, we were trying to say, hey, we should have a separate vote on Ukraine, we should have a separate vote on the emergency spending, we should then have an appropriations process and be able to have a debate in February or March.
It wasn't about whether or not McCarthy was going to be speaker on January 3. It was a different point altogether. And McConnell basically laughed and said, look, we know the deal, McCarthy actually wants a nine month bill, an extension to September 30, but he's going to vote no and hope yes. That's what everybody in town has been saying and knowing, and I think you guys know that.
TAPPER: Yes, but just last point, I don't think Kevin McCarthy is alone among the House Republican caucus in wanting to vote no but hope yes.
ROY: No, he's not alone, and that's part of the problem. And, look, I'm trying to be a voice to say the party -- I'm here to represent the constituents in Texas that I represent, and people disaffected across this country looking at the swamp going, what the hell is going on while we rack up debt and destroy our country. I'm not here to choose party over the people I represent. I'm here to stand up for the people I represent.
Even those -- I've got a whole lot of people texting me saying, hey, keep going. I've got a few going, oh, my God, you got to go cut a deal, get behind McCarthy. Look, this is how the sausage is made. It's happening in, you know, real time. We're actually having a real debate with 435 people on the floor of the House. Oh, my gosh.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, one of the now 20 rebels voting against Kevin McCarthy for speaker. Thanks for joining us today.
ROY: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Really appreciate it. Good to see you again.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Great discussion. I want to go to Melanie Zanona, who's on Capitol Hill.
Melanie, I understand you're hearing some news.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, the big question right now is what happens next? Obviously, there's no resolution in sight. And we are being told, me and my colleague Annie Grayer and my colleague Manu Raju that McCarthy critics are talking about making a motion to adjourn, that would wrap up the proceedings and they could regroup, they can talk about a strategy, they can try to rally around another candidate. However, that would take the requirement of 218 votes. In other words, they would need help from Democrats.
And sources tell us that Democrats are undecided about how they will proceed. They are actively discussing what they would do. Now, they have said previously that they're not going to lift a finger to help Kevin McCarthy. But in this case, Anderson, Kevin McCarthy wants to keep voting. He doesn't want to make a motion to adjourn that's because he's worried that then his critics could really start to mount a challenge. He thinks it's in his best interest to keep voting and really wear his opponents down.
So we'll see what Democrats decide to do. There's a question about whether the critics would make this motion either after this ballot or after the fourth ballot. We'll have to wait and see. But a lot of active discussions right now about a plan B and what happens next, Anderson.
COOPER: Fascinating. Melanie Zanona, appreciate it.
Back here with the team in New York, what would the -- what would be the advantage of taking a break?
CHARLIE DENT. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you're a Democrat, I don't understand why you would want to take a break. As long as this spectacle is going on, the Democrats probably figure it from a political standpoint this is good for them, it's bad for the country, bad for the Congress, but probably good for them. Let the Republicans, you know, stew in their own muck.
COOPER: Although, wouldn't taking a break amplify that? I mean, if you're a Democrat and you want it, the Republicans --
DENT: Might know if they take a break. I suspect the biggest reason they'll take a break is because all their families are down there right now for swearing in day and they're ignoring them. But I don't see the advantage of the Democrats taking a break. I really don't.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I -- first of all, yes, there's more swearing than swearing is in down there today. It's not what people came for. But the question is the players on the Republican side and how they each approach whether there should be a German or not. Yes, I kind of believe McCarthy is right.
I think it's unlikely, for all the reasons we've discussed all day, that if you take time off that somehow you're going to melt. What do you need, 14, 15 votes --
DENT: Approximately 16 now.
AXELROD: -- away? I think it's more likely that people are going to start thinking about what if Kevin can't make it and what are possible combinations. I think that's the discussion that he does not want to have. So I understand why he doesn't want to adjourn.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By the way, taking a step back, someone we haven't talked about in a bit is the Trump factor here. Why Kevin McCarthy is in this position is because of how Donald Trump ended his presidency, the insurrection that happened on January 6, and then Kevin McCarthy's calculation to go down to Mar-a- Lago and to kiss the ring and bring him back into the fold. So he -- by doing that, was thinking about the speakership and thinking he needed Donald Trump's support to get there.
But what that opened up was a wave of primaries that Donald Trump weighed into that ended up actually costing Republicans winnable seats, running people like Joe Kent against Jamie Herrera Beutler and elsewhere. He is the overarching figure in this chaos that we're seeing here.
I was there in 2015, were there in 2016, there's always a few people who vote against whoever the speaker is, whether it was Boehner, Paul Ryan or whoever. But the ability to mount this sort of a bid against, you know, the speaker apparent Kevin McCarthy is purely because the Donald Trump factor in the party, and it's just continuing to throw the GOP in a case.
COOPER: Congressman, if you were sitting there and you're a Democrat, would you want to adjourn?
MONDAIRE JONES, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I would be frustrated that I have relatives in the chamber. I would be frustrated, especially as an incoming member that they are swearing in ceremonies that they have created on their own and that hundreds of people could be going tonight. I'm thinking of Max Frost, for example, the first Gen. Z member of Congress.
But from a political standpoint, Democrats should be remaining in that chamber and forcing as many of these embarrassing votes as possible. It's going to continue to strengthen Hakeem Jeffries as their minority leader, and it's going to reemphasize time and time again for the American people how incapable of governing the modern day Republican Party is.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I think the problem with McCarthy is nothing he has done has strengthened his hand. So this idea, if they adjourned or not adjourned, that he's all of a sudden going to become everybody's favorite and get to the 218, it just doesn't really make any sense.
I mean, these folks are digging in. They seem to be digging in harder. Democrats seem to be getting happier as this goes along. So, the calculus just isn't working for him, and it hasn't worked for the past two months or two years.
AXELROD: Can I ask a question, though? If Democrats start leaving the floor and they're not voting, that lowers the threshold, which, in theory, could help McCarthy accept -- you know, Jeffries is sitting there with 212 votes. McCarthy doesn't have 213. Lowering the threshold doesn't particularly help him. Am I reading this wrong?
DENT: Well, but the Democrats need to stay there. If for every two -- so if 40 Democrats were not -- were absent, that would lower the threshold. That wouldn't be enough to elect McCarthy.
AXELROD: He would his votes too.
AXELROD: He would lose his vote too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JONES: Look, when you're in the minority, you got to take as many wins as you can when you can get them. Now, as much as we can, I think, accurately predict that there will be plenty of other embarrassing moments when it comes to passing legislation moving forward with this majority, this slim majority, that's not guaranteed.
Here's a failure unlike anything we've seen since 1923. They should be seizing on this moment for purposes of taking back the majority in 2024.
GRIFFIN: Well, and by the way, I want to push back on this notion that it's purely the right flank that is holding this -- you know, the House floor hostage right now. It is Kevin McCarthy who has lost three times consecutively on the floor and is refusing to pull his name out. So, this is a two way street and there's got to be a moment where people walk within the House GOP Conference and say, OK, Kevin, you clearly do not have a path to victory. Who is it going to be?
HENDERSON: Yes. And the moderates aren't overly, you know, enthusiastic about Kevin McCarthy. I mean, we heard, for instance from Herrera Beutler and asked, you know, should Kevin McCarthy be speaker? And she said something like, well, he's worked at it and he said meeting --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. But nobody's worked harder for.
HENDERSON: Yes, and he's raised money, and he had meetings with people. I mean, she sounded very unenthusiastic. And I think a lot of the moderates feel the same way if they.
AXELROD: Give him a participation ribbon.
DENT: Back to the question of adjournment. Now, this is unusual because the chief clerk is presiding. Now, can she recess the House for how long? I mean, you know, adjournment means they adjourn for I don't know how long, but to recess to go for 10 hours, can she do that without -- I mean, I don't know. I've never been in this situation.
COOPER: Whose decision would it be to adjourn?
DENT: Usually -- oftentimes, if there was a speaker, Republican or Democratic speaker, they say, we're going to recess the House until the call of the chair, and they bang the gavel and they come back whenever they come back. Now, that's who makes a decision. Now, a motion to adjourn requires a vote.
JONES: Yes. DENT: Majority votes.
JONES: Majority would have to.
DENT: Yes. So that would actually mean you're going to shut down operations for the House. That recess means you're still in session, but the House is, you know, officially in session, even though you're not on the floor voting.
COOPER: And how much at this point -- I mean, is anybody twisting any arms?
DENT: Well, you would think they would be out -- there's that little cloak room right off the House floor, you think there'd be SmackDown sessions going on there nonstop, but I'm not sure that's happening right now.
JONES: I think members are talking amongst themselves about who their alternative is going to be to Kevin McCarthy. I mean, there's only so many of these instances that you can have before people say, enough is enough, Kevin is being -- he's acting emotionally and understandably in great frustration from, you know, the perspective of his supporters. But you know, at some point, to your point, David, you got to just accept the fact that you're not going to get it.
AXELROD: I think that a lot of these Republican members really would like to have a confrontation that somehow establishes the primacy dominance of the more moderate governing coalition here. The problem is, structurally, they can. And Alyssa, you said, well, you know, it's McCarthy's fault, and I think there's plenty to fault him for.
But the fact is they drove out John Boehner. You were there. They drove out Paul Ryan. This has become a sport for the House Freedom Caucus.
GRIFFIN: But again, he empowered them by continuing to -- continually making concessions to them.
AXELROD: Yes, without a question. Without a question.
GRIFFIN: That's what becomes the challenge.
AXELROD: Without a question.
GRIFFIN: And he didn't, knowing that recent history.
DENT: How are you going to get these guys back? I mean, he spent the last year trying to get in the vote for him, and here we are on swearing in day and he's got 20 of them who are out --
HENDERSON: And I think the --
GRIFFIN: In the primary. That's the Trump factor. HENDERSON: And he thought sort of once it came down to it, that they wouldn't actually be able to follow through and vote against the speaker.
DENT: Well, these guys will take a hostage.
HENDERSON: That's what some of those -- no, I think that's exactly right.
AXELROD: Yes. But you know what, if your dream, if the thing you've lived for, if the thing you wanted more than anything in life was to be speaker of the House, then you do whatever you think you need to do to be there. And that is his sine qua non. It's not about the institution. It's about becoming speaker of the House.
He wants to do it in the worst way and he may do it in the worst way.
GRIFFIN: And he played into this language. Notice Chip Roy kept referring to the swamp. By Kevin McCarthy allowing it to go to a third ballot and saying, I deserve it, I've been here, I've raised the most money, I've contributed the most to the NRCC, that's playing into this notion that it's more of, you know, not a meritocracy. It's who's put the most money there. And they're playing off of that.
They want to weaken and cripple him. And who knows who's going to emerge.
COOPER: CNN's live coverage of the historic drama still unfolding on Capitol Hill continues right after a quick break. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Republicans in disarray. The disarray, in fact, on full display right now is Kevin McCarthy appears to have fallen short of the votes needed to be speaker of the House for his third time today. A proverbial hat trick. Let's bring in CNN's Manu Raju live for us on Capitol Hill.
So, Manu, lawmakers are having discussions about how to proceed given the fact that these have basically been three votes that have been almost the exact same in terms of Kevin McCarthy having 203 or now 202 votes. What are you hearing about what's next?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are active discussions now underway about adjourning the House until tomorrow because of the failure to elect a speaker. That is only possible if 218 members vote for this. And McCarthy going into this vote, Jake, did not want to adjourn the chamber. And he wanted to grind this through to the night into the day and day out.
But there are opponents of McCarthy who believe it would be work to their benefit to adjourn. Expect that motion to happen soon here, Jake, is the clerk here now gavels us in and --
TAPPER: Let's listen in. yes. Yes, let's listen to Cheryl Johnson, the clerk.
CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: The tallies that the total number votes cast is 434, of which the Honorable Hakeem Jefferies of the State of New York has received 212, the Honorable Kevin McCarthy of the State of California has received 202, the Honorable Jim Jordan of the State of Ohio has received 20. No person having received the majority of the whole number of votes cast by surname, a speaker has not been elected.
For what purpose does the gentleman from Oklahoma rise?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moved to adjourn until noon tomorrow.
JOHNSON: The question is on the motion. All those in favor say aye.
MULTIPLE SPEAKERS: Aye.
JOHNSON: All those opposed, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
JOHNSON: The eyes have it. The motion is adopted. The House stands adjourned until noon tomorrow.
TAPPER: All right, the Honorable Cheryl Johnson, the clerk of the House of Representatives has just entertained the motion and it has received the ayes. There is an adjournment until tomorrow. We are at an impasse, at least, as far as Tuesday is concerned.
And Jonah Goldberg, I have to say, I'm kind of surprised. I really thought that there was going to be a momentum from Kevin McCarthy or the 19 rebels or the Democrats who are clearly having the day of their, you know, the day of 2023. What do you think?
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think your euphemism for relieved is quite well taken. Because I think everybody was just like, oh, my gosh, we're really going to do this. And they were thinking about having their families in town, and they knew that there was not going to be any, you know, settling of this now.
And so, it just made sense to say, all right, let's figure this out and go back. I mean, I think McCarthy is going to legitimately try to stick it out because he's sort of like Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman." He's got no place else to go, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there any movie references that are --
TAPPER: We got more to go. We got hours to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- since Kaitlan was born?
TAPPER: We have hours to go. But just to explain for folks at home, the reason why they all have members -- they have their family members here is because after the speaker of the House is elected and there's a few other votes, then they all get sworn in.
GOLDBERG: And that's supposed to be a formality.
TAPPER: That's right.
TAPPER: It's an exciting moment especially for the new members, but it's also a time for husbands and wives and children and parents, et cetera, to come and watch. And so, I think you're exactly right. That's probably a big reason, because they're not going to subject their families to be sitting through this until midnight, right, Jamie?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: They got tired.
GANGEL: They wanted to go home, and they didn't see an end in sight. Look, this is not going in the right direction for Kevin McCarthy, 19 went to 20. It does not look like it was going to be solved this evening. And we saw also more McCarthy allies tipping the other way. It wasn't just Florida Congressman Byron Donalds who said to you --
GANGEL: -- before he even voted, quote, "he doesn't have the votes."
GANGEL: But it's also Ken Buck, Pete Sessions. So, I think it was time for Kevin McCarthy to regroup and everyone else that have had enough.
TAPPER: One of the mysteries here, Dana, is that it has long been a truism in this town that if you are a leader, you don't call a vote unless you know that you have the votes.
And yet they called the vote and they didn't -- and Kevin McCarthy didn't have the votes.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He knew he didn't have the votes.
BASH: He was well aware of that he didn't have the votes. But he also believed, and still does, that nobody else has the votes. And so, this so much of what we're seeing here is performative. It's performative -- I mean, Kevin McCarthy actually wants to be speaker, and the 19, now 20, whatever, don't want him to be speaker.
BASH: Rebels don't want him to be speaker. But you're exactly right. If this was done in a way where both sides didn't want aggressively to make a point about whatever the point is, I mean, we know McCarthy wants to -- the point that maybe not McCarthy himself, but the people encouraging McCarthy to stick it out, they want to stick it to what they call the Freedom Caucus, but I don't even think you can call it that anymore because it's smaller than the Freedom Caucus, the rebels. And the others want to say what Chip Roy said to you on the air, which is, we're not going to give in because we want to change the way Washington is done.
And the two represent very, very different -- I wouldn't even say it's different parts of the Republican Party because it's not about Republican credo, it's about philosophy, about institutions and how to get things done and whether to get things done.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: I mean, it does strike me that there are probably more Chip Roys, meaning more people who have kind of specific things that they still want and maybe if they were talked to again, that there is a path forward in which there's another rules package that's more catered to them and less catered to the hard no five that might get their votes to move. And I'm not even suggesting that those votes would move to McCarthy, but somebody has to come up with a rules package that would satisfy those people, too, and those votes need to move to someone.
So I wonder if in the hours to come between today and tomorrow, there is more conversation about the specific things that the people who are not voting against McCarthy because they really just don't like him and don't trust him, maybe like the Chip Roy's and others, there are several freshmen in the ranks of the 20. Byron Donalds has said he may vote for McCarthy again. It's a bit of an open door, but it's still a tall hill to climb, not just for McCarthy, but for a compromise figure who we still have not identified. We still don't know who that --
PHILLIP: -- person could be. And honestly, I really don't know if it is truly a Jim Jordan. It might have to be someone else.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what's interesting is, you know, 30 minutes ago I was texting with a House Republican who said Kevin McCarthy wants us to stay. He wanted them to keep voting. As of this morning, they said one vote or 100 votes, we will keep voting for Kevin McCarthy. But we saw how the momentum was changing. Byron Donalds, you know, was the one who did switch his vote from Kevin McCarthy to Jim Jordan. So you are seeing a momentum shift, and that whether or not it's enough remains to be seen.
But I do expect there to be a big push in the next few hours. The allies of former President Trump are very angry with these Republican hardliners who are pushing back against Trump. They are saying that this is embarrassing, this is chaotic, you know, this is what it looks like when Republicans are in charge. That push is likely expected to continue while they are adjourn.
BASH: And yet, where is Donald Trump?
PHILLIP: I mean, he put --
COLLINS: Notice he's been silent today. He didn't said anything.
PHILLIP: And he put to his arms and he has not twist it. He has said he supports McCarthy, but he has not twist his arms.
BASH: He will not spend his capital.
PHILLIP: So, we will see.
BASH: Will not spend his capital on --
BASH: -- anything.
COLLINS: So, he was on the phone --
TAPPER: Won't, except for himself. Right.
COLLINS: Well, we saw that in the midterms. And he was on the phone with people last night, I'll just say quickly, but he was saying last night he's going to stay on the sidelines as today was happening. I talked to one Republican who said that's incredibly unlikely, that's going to remain the case.
TAPPER: But it's interesting --
BASH: One way straight (ph).
TAPPER: -- because these 20 Republicans are probably 20 of the most MAGA Republicans that there are.
TAPPER: The Donald Trump could use his influence.
TAPPER: And in no small way, he has empowered and created them. So he's on both sides of this, which is not the first time he would be on.
GOLDBERG: Yes, I mean, this is my point about how it's -- this is much more about nihilism and performative disruption than anything else. I mean, Marjorie Taylor Greene is as MAGA as they come, and she's for Kevin McCarthy. And Lauren Boebert is a coequal MAGA, and she's against them. And it's --
TAPPER: They're like feuding now, though, they hate each other.
GOLDBERG: Yes, which is fun to watch. But the -- you know, I agree with most of -- almost everything Chip Roy had to say about the problems with Congress. I think that we need to get back to regular order, we need to have committee chairs have power, we need to have real rules that allow legislation -- legislating is supposed to be a process of discovery, and we don't have that anymore. Nancy Pelosi imposed policies, Paul Ryan did it. A lot of this comes from Newt Gingrich. I agree with all of that. The problem is there's just this huge non sequitur between these complaints and why I am voting against Kevin McCarthy.
GOLDBERG: But like, I wouldn't -- like, Jim Jordan is not going to change any of that.
TAPPER: So let's bring in somebody who knows these crowds, all of these crowds very well, Mick Mulvaney, the former Acting Chief of Staff for former President Trump and a former Republican Congressman from South Carolina who was a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Mr. Mulvaney, good to see you. Congressman, this fight within the Republican Party goes back to when you were first elected to the House in the Tea Party wave in 2010, you were a leader of the Freedom Caucus. We even ran for speaker yourself in 2013. 2015 you voted for Boehner as speaker, though you had reservations. Tell us how you see this playing out.
MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING W.H. CHIEF TO PRES. TRUMP: Yes, I don't think I ran for speaker in 2013, but all the rest of that stuff is right.
MULVANEY: Anyway, I didn't vote for Boehner, but I certainly didn't vote for myself.
TAPPER: Your name was floated, I should say. Your name was floated as a possible speaker candidate, I should say.
MULVANEY: That's very flattering. How does it shake out?
Honestly, if it's not Kevin, I don't know who it is. And that's the conversation I've been having with these 19 never Kevin folks. Many of them were my friends today, which is, guys, what's the plan here? If not Kevin, then who?
And every time they give me a name, Jim Jordan's name has come up. They nominated Jim Jordan. Jim Jordan can't get elected speaker. Keep in mind, any group of five or six effectively have a veto power right now, so it's almost going to have to be unanimous.
And as much as I'd like Jim Jordan, Jim and I worked together for six years, we started the Freedom Caucus together, I'm a huge Jim Jordan fan, but you're telling me there's not five or six moderate Republicans who wouldn't accept Jim Jordan as speaker and wouldn't, I think, more importantly, empower the right wing of the party and reward them for this behavior? No, I just don't see that happening. I think it's either Kevin or somebody that we don't even know about who's more to the center of my party or a compromised person who's a Democrat. I just don't see how these folks who are MAGA Republicans, again, it's not the Freedom Caucus, folks, the majority of the Freedom Caucus voted for Kevin McCarthy today every single time, on every single vote, the majority of the caucus. That's not a Freedom Caucus thing versus Kevin McCarthy, it's a group of people who happen to be in the Freedom Caucus and I just don't see how anybody that they would find acceptable has the votes to get speaker. I think it's Kevin or nobody.
TAPPER: So you heard Congressman Chip Roy or maybe you didn't hear Congressman Chip Roy, but you've heard him over the last few days and weeks talking about what he wants and he seems to want, like, a more open amendment process.
TAPPER: He wants conservative representation on the House Rules Committee, et cetera. I can't necessarily discern what the other 18 want. Congressman Byron Donalds just wants this to be over, obviously. But In terms of the other 18, is there an agenda there that you can tell other than they don't like Kevin McCarthy and they like to shake things up?
MULVANEY: I think that's it. I think they really just don't like Kevin and they like the attention. They like the chaos. They're on T.V. more in the last 48 hours, and they've been for many of them in their entire careers.
I listen to what Chip had to say. I like Chip. I respect Chip. But much of what he's asked for, Kevin has already offered him.
A lot of the things he's complaining about, for example, the way the $1.7 trillion omnibus was handled was handled by Nancy Pelosi. Some of the things he's asking for, Kevin's not in a position to give. For example, they want specific people on committees. That's not how the Republican caucus works.
The speaker doesn't populate the committees. The members vote on who goes on the committees, and they're asking Kevin to give them something he can't give them. I think I wasn't in the meeting today during the House Republican Conference meeting before the vote, but I understand that Kevin got up and said, what more do you want? And the answer was, essentially, we just don't want you. So I don't think this is about policy.
In fact, I know it's not about policy. I don't think it's about practice. When we voted against John Boehner, we did it because he was trying to marginalize, in our opinion, the conservatives. Kevin McCarthy wants to make Jim Jordan the committee -- the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This is something we would never have dreamed of under John Boehner.
So I don't think it's practical. I don't think it's policy. I just think it's a combination of they don't like Kevin and they like the attention. And that's a really bad way to run a speaker race.
TAPPER: So, I understand that you don't think bad behavior should be rewarded, but we are now in a place as a country that we have not been in since 1923, with somebody running for speaker and not winning on the first ballot, second ballot, third ballot, who knows how long this is going to go. At what point do you start thinking, I don't know that Kevin McCarthy can, you know, win? And even if he can, I don't know that he can be the speaker effectively, given the fact that he can't even get this done?
MULVANEY: No, I think that's a fair point. I think that's one likely outcome. It's either Kevin or somebody less acceptable to me as a conservative than Kevin. Let's -- I'll use a name, and it's a guy that I like, and he knows I like him, so I'm not beating up on him.
Let's say that Fred Upton is this compromised candidate that a group, a large group of moderate Republicans come together with Democrats and say, look, Kevin doesn't have the votes, they can't elect anybody because they won't take anybody to the right of Kevin. Jim Jordan doesn't have the votes. You know, run down the good conservatives, they'd don't have the votes. We need a speaker, will you vote with us with Fred Upton? That's got to be an undesirable outcome. And Fred wouldn't mind me saying that from a really conservative standpoint.
So there's a way that bad behavior wouldn't be rewarded. It would actually be punished. And that's what I'm afraid is one of the outcomes that might happen under these circumstances.
TAPPER: So here's another question for you. Donald Trump and his team are clearly behind Kevin McCarthy. It took him a little while to get there, but they're there. Donald Trump also wields incredible influence with these 19 or 20 rebels. In some cases, he created them, he's responsible for them, he's their muse.
Where is he? Where is Donald Trump? Because this obviously is whether or not it's bad for the country, it's definitely bad for House Republicans.
MULVANEY: Yes. Look, where is he? Who knows, right? Where he perceived as being because in this business, perception is often a reality.
I don't know if he's on the phone calling Dan Bishop. You know, he got Dan Bishop elected. Dan Bishop was one of the never Kevin people. I don't know if he's calling Dan Bishop.
But I do know this is that it's perceived that Donald Trump is for Kevin McCarthy because he's been with him up at this point, and I have no reason to think he's against him right now. If Kevin McCarthy loses, it's a mark against Donald Trump. Yet another mark against Donald Trump. He'll be perceived as being even weaker than he was coming out of the midterms.
So, the other person who stands to lose here, because he is invested in Kevin is Donald Trump. I got to think that Trump knows that, and he's going to be working behind the scenes. Again, I don't have any information one way or the other, but I think you could say without reservation that if McCarthy loses, one of the bigger losers here is Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, I just think it's unusual that he's been more critical of the cast of Hamilton than he has of these 20 rebels. But that's another story for another time.
Former Congressman and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
We're following all the historic drama on Capitol Hill as rebellious hardliners reject Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on three consecutive balance. Our live coverage continues right after this quick break.
TAPPER: Breaking news this hour, the House of Representatives has adjourned for the day after a wild process where Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed to secure enough vote to become the House speaker three different times. This has not happened since 1923. Let's bring in Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas. He voted for McCarthy on all three ballots.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I'm wondering if you are in a place where you're starting to think there should be a different candidate. Not Jim Jordan, not Kevin McCarthy, somebody that the entire or at least 218 of you can coalesce around.
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): Well, I think that's a conversation that's taking place about how do we get out of the mess? I think, how do we get out of this is a question that comes about as a result of a desire that the 20 people --19, 20 people have who are solid in their beliefs that they would want something, that they could count on, something that they cannot just take back home, but know that the American people will have a solid understanding that they will achieve the things that are important to our party, but also these 19 people. So I think that is why we are in adjournment. I think that is the conversation that's going to take place tonight and then it's to be seen what happens.
TAPPER: Allies of GOP leader McCarthy say he has acquiesced to almost everything he could give these rebels, changing the rules, making it easier to get rid of the speaker with a motion to vacate on the floor, making it easier to bring bills to the floor of the House for amendments and the like.
You just heard maybe former Congressman Mulvaney say it's not up to Kevin McCarthy or any speaker to promise people that they'll be on certain committees, that's for the entire Republican caucus to vote on. And some of the questions are why won't these rebels take yes for answer? It doesn't sound like that's what you think? It sounds like you think they need more and they should get more. SESSIONS: Well, I think that, you know, peeling back the onion, you see that there's much more behind that. And I think the problem is agreement about what the agenda will be. A question about as a Texan, we are concerned, I voted for Kevin, would be for Kevin, we need a speaker, we need to get on with the majority.
But I think that there are conversations that these 19 people have about the resolve about cutting a deal that would be less than getting what they want and need. And I think it's resolved is what it comes down to. I think that's their sticking point.
TAPPER: I guess one of the other questions I have is, let's say we've heard a number of times from Chip Roy earlier, but also on the floor from Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise about some of the issues that are important to conservatives, to Republicans, to Texans, to Americans in general. Let's say border security, which is obviously a humanitarian crisis. Let's say the fentanyl problem going on in this country, which is horrific.
Whatever -- whoever is speaker of the House, and I don't know -- I can't imagine that a Speaker Jim Jordan or a Speaker Scalise would be demonstrably much different from a Speaker McCarthy, but whoever it is still going to have to deal with the fact that Senate Majority Leader is named Chuck Schumer not Mitch McConnell, and the President of the United States is named Joe Biden, not Donald Trump. So, whoever the speaker is, compromises are going to have to be made, no?
SESSIONS: Well, Jake, you're a savvy insider, you know this, Article One Section Seven comes into play with a new fiscal year that is not until October. So, the things that happen then would be where we would negotiate that. But there's much to be done between now and then. And I guarantee you, it is hardball. And it's hardball directly at this president and directly at this administration.
And I think that cooler heads can prevail about how we peel back that onion. And there would be room to understand if we could get a solid agreement on a border, we could certainly do something about this Fentanyl issue. We could do something about all the cities.
Hundreds of cities in this country are having problems directly because of the Democratic Party, and this needs to be resolved for the country, too. So I think there is room. I think there's room. It will require someone that wants to go and actually play hardball, and that's what these 19 are doing.
TAPPER: Am I reading you correctly that it sounds like your mind is open for how you're going to vote on the fourth ballot?
SESSIONS: Well, once again, Jim Jordan voted for Kevin McCarthy. It's going to take Jim Jordan to see some bit of light about what he sees a pathway is of what this is about. Kevin McCarthy voted for Kevin McCarthy. Jim is voting for Kevin.
So, I think until people come with a clear sense of what is it going to take for us to get the 218, we're going to be in this sort of round robin. And that's what I think this cooler heads will prevail tonight to clear people up on where we are and what it's going to take.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Sessions, so good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us today.
SESSIONS: Good day.
TAPPER: Let's talk about this with the panel. It sounded to me, if I can bring out my politician to English, English to politician dictionary, it sounded to me like he was saying, I'm waiting for Jim Jordan to throw his hat into the ring.
GOLDBERG: Yes, I don't know. I think, you know --
TAPPER: No, you don't --
GOLDBERG: Well, I think, to quote the Talmud, if I'm not going to be for myself, who will be for me, right?
GOLDBERG: If even Jim Jordan is voting for Kevin McCarthy --
GOLDBERG: -- it's kind of weird to expect everyone else to vote for Jim Jordan.
GOLDBERG: I think that was sort of his point. And I think, you know, Mick Mulvaney made the point earlier, there's just literally no way you're going to get enough votes for Jim Jordan to be speaker. This feels very government shutdown circuit 2013, where you had all these Republicans saying, well, of course you can repeal Obamacare with only 40 votes in the Senate --
GOLDBERG: -- no, you can.
TAPPER: No, you can.
GOLDBERG: And similarly, they think they can get Jim Jordan elected when they only have -- right now he only has 19 votes and he's not even voting for himself.
TAPPER: So we only have about three minutes left. So quick thoughts.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Couple of lessons.
GANGEL: Nancy Pelosi would not have let this happen. She knows how to count votes. Kevin McCarthy -- TAPPER: And the beat down challenges early.
GANGEL: Right. Kevin McCarthy had a month to do this. He couldn't close the deal. I'm going to just say I don't think he's going to. I think that there are other candidates other than Jim Jordan or Kevin McCarthy to come.
TAPPER: Do you have any thoughts on who then?
GANGEL: Look, I think Steve Scalise is a possibility. And I think there are some dark horse candidates that we've heard names floated in the conference that could still come up.
BASH: I defy you to find another news network where the same show quotes Tin cup and Hillel in the same room. I think it's possible that there is a dark horse because we have seen that. We haven't seen it play out on the floor, but prefloor when Newt Gingrich was ousted and they were looking for a consensus candidate, you know, that he --
TAPPER: It turned out it was a child molester, but OK, yes.
BASH: True, convicted. But that did happen. And so, there is -- it's a very different Republican world, it's a very different political world now. But there is precedent for that kind of thing if Kevin McCarthy can't get the vote. Even though I will say just real quick, I've talked to several Republicans who insist that there are 60 to 70 who will just keep voting for Kevin McCarthy until and unless he pulls himself out.
PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, look, at this point, there has to be some kind of dark horse candidate. It could literally be anyone. Listening to Chip Roy it almost sounded like what he was saying was that they need to prove to Jim Jordan that Jim Jordan can win. And they might have to do that because, I mean, Jordan is not going to put his -- stick his neck out there if he can't get to 218. And I think at the moment that's not entirely clear. He wouldn't be the first politician to basically go to his supporters and say, OK, prove it to me that you have -- that you can get the support, and then I'll be ready to go. So --
TAPPER: Not because -- in the immortal words of Omar, if you come for the king, you best not miss.
PHILLIP: I mean, look, that is true not just of Jim Jordan, but also of Scalise.
PHILLIP: Also of all these other folks. Nobody wants to go at McCarthy. Even though he's not that powerful of a figure unless they know the --
TAPPER: Still the most powerful as of now.
COLLINS: I think the thing to watch is what happens with Trump. He hasn't said anything today publicly about Kevin McCarthy. That's noticeable silence from someone who has been paying attention to this. And if he comes out and declines or rescinds his endorsement of Trump or McCarthy for speaker, I think that's notable on what could happen potentially tomorrow when they reconvene at noon.
TAPPER: Well, he likes to feel the winds, I think.
COLLINS: Exactly. He's not loyal to him at all. I think it's something to watch.
TAPPER: Thanks very much for watching. Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett pick up CNN's live coverage of this historic drama taking place in the House of Representatives right after this quick break. Stay with us.