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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Scalise, Jordan Enter Race For Next House Speaker; House To Vote On New Speaker As Early As Next Week; Hunter Biden Considers Fundraising For $10M+ In Legal Bills; Congress Paralyzed As House GOP Scrambles To Find Next Speaker; Victim Of Alleged Sex Assault At CIA Headquarters Sues Agency. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 04, 2023 - 16:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Well, if you want to get on the action, just head over to The champion will be crowned next Tuesday. I've got to admit, I never knew this existed but how cute.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And the really exciting thing is the winner could potentially become the next speaker of the House. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.


SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us today.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Folks, I have warned you before, cranking your base up too much will blow out your speaker.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Republicans need a new leader and they need that person quick. The government runs out of money again next month. So, who should become the next House speaker? And what deal will he make with those eight House Republicans who toppled McCarthy.

Plus, petty, petty, petty politics. First Nancy Pelosi, and then Steny Hoyer, both kicked out of their Capitol office space. We have brand- new CNN reporting about who was really behind this decision.

And the CNN exclusive, $10 million in legal bills for Hunter Biden and an exhausted efforts to find more funds. Where is a shady foreign billionaire when you really need them?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start today on Capitol Hill where the race for House speaker is on. Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio have officially joined the race now that Kevin McCarthy has officially been fired, an ignominious history- making headline for the Californians. A new speaker could be a fresh start tor House Republicans or it could be just another hostage sitting in the same office, terrified of doing anything to offend a tiny faction of his party?

So how did we get here? For the very first time in American history, speaker-less. Well, it might have all began when Kevin McCarthy thought he could appease the MAGA right, with almost the notion that he would allow them to set just some of the building on fire. But that's not how fireworks.

While the votes were still being counted, two days after the election of 2020, Kevin McCarthy decided he would cast his lot with the election liars.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): President Trump won this election so everyone who's listening, do not be quiet. Do not be -- do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.


TAPPER: And so, Kevin McCarthy brought in the fire and he stoked it. Weeks later, then came the violent pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, based on those election lies.

And McCarthy continued to stoke that fire. He voted to reject the election results in Pennsylvania and in Arizona, also based on those lies.

And what's perhaps most interesting about those votes is the cravenness that McCarthy admitted about it to CNN's Manu Raju. He said essentially it was okay to throw out those millions of votes from Pennsylvanians and Arizonans because Joe Biden still would have had 270 electoral votes and still would have been president.


MCCARTHY: If Arizona and Pennsylvania were removed in the Electoral College, would President Biden's number lower between -- lower below 270.

REPORTER: No, but Donald Trump said the House could vote -- the House could vote to overturn the election.

MCCARTHY: Wait, I'm not Donald Trump. So you're asking me the question.

REPORTER: You support the efforts, did you not?

MCCARTHY: I'm answering the question.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: But you can't do insurrection light. You can't be sedition- ish. That's not how it works. That's not how fire works.

And Kevin McCarthy wanted power and when the Republicans to whom he'd been pandering, made the final demand, the ability of just one of them to force a vote to fire him, McCarthy took it and he became House speaker and then he lost his job. And when he lost his job yesterday, he blamed Democrats. He said the Democrats didn't have respect for institutions. Kevin McCarthy picked a hell of a time to start caring about institutions.


CNN's Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill.

Melanie, we're coming up on 24 hours since that historic vote that removed McCarthy as House speaker. What does the race look like to succeed him?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jake, the race is already heating up. I have been told that Steve Scalise as of last night was making calls to his colleagues and lining up supporters and earlier today he made it official in a letter to his colleagues. I want to read you part of that letter.

He said: God already gave me another chance at life. I believe we were all here -- put here for a purpose. This next chapter won't be easy, but I know what it takes to fight and I'm prepared for the battles that lie ahead. I humbly ask you for your support on this mission to be your speaker of the House.

So, Jake, a reference there to the fact that Steve Scalise was shot at a GOP baseball practice back in 2017. Now he's under going treatment for blood cancer. But he said he feels great and he's up for the job and this is a moment that he and his team have been preparing for for quite sometime. They've long been seen as waiting in the wings if McCarthy were to step aside or were to stumble.

But Jake, I could tell you, this is not a coronation for Steve Scalise. He is going to have to face off against Jim Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chairman who has the support of many conservatives in his party. And Jim Jordan made his candidacy official today and our Manu Raju caught up with him. Here's what he had to say.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What promises are you making to the conference, policy-wise, agenda-wise?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The agenda is what I spoke about the floor, Manu. The -- we need to pass bills that need to be passed, we've done a lot of that. Biggest one of course is HR2, the immigration and border security legislation. Frankly I wish Chuck Schumer would bring it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZANONA: Now both men made their case today before the House GOP Texas delegation, a very large and influential bloc of conservatives and Republicans here in the House. And some of the questions that they are being asked, Jake, include what are you going to do with Ukraine funding? That, of course, has been a polarizing issue inside the conference. Jordan suggested he would not support more funding for Ukraine.

And also, are you going to reform the motion to vacate, that tool that was used to oust Kevin McCarthy? And hardliners say it needs to stay exactly where it is, but now there are some moderates and centrists in the party who are saying we need to reform that tool so we don't have chaos again on the floor.

But all of this is not going to be sorted out until next week at earliest. House GOP is going to have a candidate forum on Tuesday. They will vote on their elections on Wednesday.

But the big question remains, can this unruly Republican conference rally around a single person to lead them? Until they do, the House is going to be paralyzed -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Melanie Zanona, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel, along with her deep rolodex.

Jamie, right after Kevin McCarthy was fired, we've seen two former Democratic leaders of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer kicked out of their Capitol offices -- a big break from tradition, not certainly how Pelosi treated former Republican leaders. And you have some new reporting about how that happened. The Interim Speaker Patrick McHenry is being blamed for this.

Is that -- is that fair?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No. This is real estate revenge and yes, Patrick McHenry gave the public order. But according to multiple sources who have told me and our colleague Annie Grayer, in fact, it will not surprise you to know that Kevin McCarthy was responsible for Pelosi and Steny Hoyer losing their hideaways and guess who is moving into Pelosi's office? You get one guess.

TAPPER: Kevin McCarthy.

GANGEL: Kevin McCarthy.

One Republican source said to me, quote, Kevin is on a revenge tour. Patrick would never do that on his own. This was Kevin's call.

TAPPER: Classy.

You've been talking to sources about how McCarthy's removal went down. Tell us more.

GANGEL: Look, you laid out what happened on the Republican side with the Matt Gaetz's aid and Kevin McCarthy's self-inflicted wound. But we also talked about how the Democrats kept discipline. And I'm told that it came down in effect to one photograph, remember the photograph from Mar-a-Lago where Kevin McCarthy went running down and stood next to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Breathing life back into him after January 6.

GANGEL: Absolutely.


GANGEL: So there were some Democrats and we reported this who had talked about doing a deal with McCarthy, bailing him out. But in the end, the leadership, including Nancy Pelosi, including some members of the January 6 committee, like Zoe Lofgren, said to their conference, you cannot support a man, you cannot bail out a man who is standing next to Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the election and the rule of law.

TAPPER: And then there is obviously the Trump factor, McCarthy thanked Trump profusely after the 15th vote that secured him the speakership.


How much did McCarthy's relationship with Donald Trump play in his removal, do you think?

GANGEL: Apparently, as we've said many times. Loyalty is a one-way street.


GANGEL: Despite that trip to Mar-a-Lago, despite McCarthy on bended knee, Donald Trump could have bailed Kevin McCarthy out and he did not.

TAPPER: Yeah. It says it all, really.

Jamie Gangel, thanks so much.

We now turn to Republican Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana. For the record, he voted to keep McCarthy as speaker yesterday.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

When asked last night if your party could decide on a leader by next week. You said hell no. Do you feel that way now? Because your party, my understanding, is scheduled to vote a week from today.

REP. GARRET GRAVES (R-LA): The party is schedule to vote and I think that what's going on right now is that, I think, for people going home and tempers -- decompress a little bit, coming back together starting on Tuesday, and do a candid forum and have people that are interested in the speaker's role, talking about their candidacy and what they want to do and then ideally a vote on Wednesday.

But I remind you going bag to January, even without all of the sore wounds, it took 15 votes to finally elect a speaker of the House. I think you have more raw emotions at this point and, quite frankly, I'm not sure why anybody would want the speakership right now and that the position really lacks stability.

TAPPER: Who do you think should be speaker? I mean, your fellow Louisianan Steve Scalise obviously is running. And who do you think the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy might support?

GRAVES: Look, I think that, you know, some interesting dynamic as anyone who comes out in support of it going to cause a lot of other Republicans to -- to really have a distaste for and so it's a very interesting dynamic that we're seeing right now. Look, there are a lot of good people throwing their name in the ring. But I've been very clear that we're not going to make a commitment right now.

Obviously, you know, any speaker from Louisiana would be -- would be fantastic. But I want to be clear, we're not going to make any commitments right now at all and here is why -- I think one of the first things you've got to do is establish stability to the position. The fact that any one person could come out and can effectively cause this motion to vacate is totally inappropriate.

Jake, you know this. This is third in line to president of the United States. We don't need to have the kind of chaos and instability that we saw yesterday.

TAPPER: So you need, as a pledge, to get your support, somebody would says, we can -- I got to get -- we got to get rid as a conference, we have to get rid of this one person motion to vacate because it makes everything unstable?

GRAVES: I think what would make sense is two different things before we even get into the speaker's race. Number one, within the Republican conference, there is a rule already that Matt Gaetz violated yesterday that prohibits any one person from bringing up a motion to vacate. The problem is that the rule doesn't have any penalty or enforcement action.

Secondly, I think the conference should come together and change the House rules to raise the threshold on a motion to vacate above just one. I mean, think about this. Again, third in line to the president of the United States, we don't subject the president or the vice president to that type of low threshold. The United States needs to have more stability than we saw yesterday.

TAPPER: Do you agree with Congressman McHenry's decision? He's the temporary speaker, the speaker pro tem, to put a pause on the week to let tensions settle?

GRAVES: Jake, I'll be candid. If we had stayed together in the meeting last night, I think that you would have seen fists thrown and I'm not being dramatic when I say that. There is a lot of raw emotions right now. I think it was best to let folks go back home and decompress a little bit and then come back together.

TAPPER: You were yourself pretty passionate on the floor yesterday, expressing some of your disgust. Let's roll a little bit of that clip.


GRAVES: What's going on in this country today? What's going on in this body where you have FreedomWorks, Heritage, Chip Roy and Jim Jordan, say something is conservative and these folks say it's not and they're right? And all of a sudden, my phone keeps sending text messages.

Text messages saying, hey, give me money. Oh, look at that. Oh, look, give me money. I filed a motion to vacate, using official actions, official actions to raise money. It's disgusting. It is what is disgusting about Washington.


TAPPER: And this afternoon, your fellow Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York said he supports removing Congressman Matt Gaetz from the Republican House Conference. I assume that is who you were talking about on the House floor in that clip.

Do you agree? Do you want to remove Matt Gaetz from the House Republican Conference?

GRAVES: Look, I think that would be one of the most unifying actions of this House. However, I also think it is really important to not just think about step one, to think steps two, three, four and five, and in this case with the slim majority, while there are people that are drooling for that to happen, that just isn't a viable path forward right now.

But I do think that some type of penalty or punishment for what he did and, look, let's be really clear, you had eight -- eight Republicans that came together yesterday with 208 Democrats.


So effectively this was a Democratic eviction of Speaker McCarthy and really didn't represent the true position of real Republicans yesterday.

TAPPER: No, no minority party ever votes for the opposition leader to be the speaker. I don't find that Republicans blaming this on Democrats to be very convincing, because if the shoe was on other foot.

GRAVES: Well, Jake, let me -- let me be clear on what I was saying.


GRAVES: My point is this wasn't a Republican position to evict Speaker McCarthy is my point.


GRAVES: You're exactly right. That unfortunately our country has devolved into such partisan politics that those types of votes are always partisan. But the fact that it was eight Republican members that voted to throw him out --


GRAVES: -- and 210 said let's keep him because he kept his commitments, he's exceeded his promises, I think that's really unfortunate.

TAPPER: I do have to say and this is based on my observations, that I do think that a Paul Ryan or a John Boehner were enough of -- they had enough respect for institutions that I don't know that the same thing would have happened to them, quite frankly. I just don't.

I think that Kevin McCarthy going along with the election lies, and trying to appease the most extreme elements of your party gave the -- I mean, Mitt Romney said something along those lines earlier today, that he aligned himself with such extreme factions, he made it impossible for Democrats to support him.

GRAVES: Yeah, look, that -- let's -- let's be clear here. You have 210 out of 218 Republicans yesterday that supported Speaker McCarthy, because they know that he fulfilled his commitments and exceeded them.

The reality is with the slim majority that you have, you've got to give respect and some degree of deference to all the views, the diverse views of the conference.

The speaker advocated for -- the speaker achieved some of the greatest conservative successes that we've had in modern history, things like border, energy, the greatest savings in American history with what we negotiated in the debt ceiling negotiation. The first environmental stream lining strengthening work requirements for welfare, all of the great conservative wins he achieved.

That's not catering to this group of extremists. It's simply advancing conservative objectives.

TAPPER: Yeah, I'm not talking -- I'm not talking about that, though. I'm talking about lying about the election. I'm talking about not punishing people when they say, you know, horrifically bigoted things. I'm talking about that sort of -- you know, speaking at a white nationalist convention. I'm not talking about conservative principles.

GRAVES: Hang on. Like number one, Speaker McCarthy didn't speak at any --

TAPPER: No, I'm not talking about him. I'm talking about Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene doing and like him not saying about it.

GRAVES: And the speaker of the House has had a number of conversations with members that have gotten out of line. Similarly, whenever Democrats have gotten out of line --


GRAVES: -- we've tried to take appropriate action as well. But that's -- that's not what this is about. Bottom line is, the

speaker has achieved some incredible successes in recent, over the last several months and a far majority of Republicans, in fact, over 96 percent of Republicans in the House voted to keep him. This small minority getting together in this case with House Democrats I think it was incredibly unfortunate. They didn't think through successive steps.

Now, we have the House of Representatives completely frozen and once again, the small group of the chaos caucus has caused the House to be unable to move forward on things like border security, appropriations bills and others. These are the arsonists that light their house on fire, that whine about their house being on fire, put it out and want accolades for doing it, and then set up a GoFundMe page to get money for it. It's outrageous.

TAPPER: Republican Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana, good to see you.

GRAVES: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks for coming on.

Republicans on the Problem Solvers Caucus threatened to quit on mass yesterday when Democrats voted to remove McCarthy as speaker. Have tensions cooled off in the last 24 hours, I'll ask a Democrat who is in that bipartisan if it still exists.

Plus, Donald Trump's parting news as he left a New York courtroom for day three of the civil fraud trial against him.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: One of the most well-known groups on the Hill trying to find bipartisan consensus which is not easy, might now fall apart in the wake of the vote to remove Kevin McCarthy.

With us now is Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey who is the Democratic co-chair of that group, the Problem Solvers Caucus.

Congressman, does the Problem Solvers Caucus still exist? CNN's Melanie Zanona reports that the Republican members of the group are considering quitting after every Democrat voted to vacate and fire Kevin McCarthy.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): The group exists and it's strong and, you know, I'm grateful for the members on both sides of the aisle. Listen, this was an emotional day yesterday. And I understand and have deep respect for all of my colleagues.

The key now, of course, after working incredibly hard to avoid a shutdown this weekend, which we did successfully working together and, of course, the debt ceiling deal a couple of weeks back, you know, now we have to focus on making sure that in 40 days from now we don't shut the government shutdown. And that's my number one focus.

And looking for ways that we can run the House in a smarter, more bipartisan way that of course doesn't encourage extremism. But actually encourages more bipartisan governing which is, as you know, my focus.

TAPPER: So, Jamie Gangel, our reporter, is reporting that it was Kevin McCarthy actually who was the force behind the interim Speaker Patrick McHenry kicking both Pelosi and Steny Hoyer out of their Capitol building hideaways, their offices. That's obviously a big break from tradition, not what Pelosi did with former Republican leaders when she became speaker.

Pelosi, as you know, is not even around to remove her boxes and such from that office because she's in California attending the funeral of her good friend Senator Dianne Feinstein.

What's your reaction to all of this?

GOTTHEIMER: It's not what I would do. But, you know, listen, we've got real issues we've got to focus on, right?


I mean, we've got Ukraine funding which is essential to making sure that we stand up to China and Iran and Russia, and Putin's dictatorial march. We've got to make sure, we keep, as I said, lights on and we support or veterans, our law enforcement, our seniors, our children, we've got real issues there that we're facing in just a matter of weeks.

So I think that is where we have to focus our time and energy over these next weeks. Obviously, the Republicans are focused on picking their next leader on the future speaker. And that is something within their family.

But we have to get right back to the table and make sure that we work together as Democrats and Republicans because when you're in a divided government, Jake, as you know, that is the only way we'll be able to get things done as we've seen over these last months. We've got to figure out a way to work together and we've got to figure out a way to let common sense prevail.

TAPPER: The two names that we've heard and the two names of candidates who have declared their intention to run for speaker are Congressman Steve Scalise and Congressman Jim Jordan. Is there one of those two that you think would be more promising in terms of your hopes for bipartisan legislation?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, you know, Jake, I'm from Jersey. We don't mess with other people's families, you know? So I'm going to leave it to them to work out within their family who they want the leader to be. I don't get a vote for that in caucus. My preference would be Hakeem Jeffries. But, again, like that's --

they have to work that out. What we have to work together on is actually legislating and moving the country forward. So I'm eager when they get past that part of what they've got to work out next week, that we get right to work for the American people because that I do have a say in and a seat at the table.

TAPPER: So, what's your basic argument to people like McCarthy and others that are like -- that are saying, you know, you voted with Matt Gaetz, you voted for chaos. You could have done more to support the institution. These are not my arguments and I don't want tweets saying that I'm blaming the Democrats tor this. This is not my argument.

GOTTHEIMER: Yeah, be careful there, Jake.

TAPPER: No, I am not saying this. But what is your argument to those people saying Democrats, you had a chance to stand for sanity and the institution and you didn't do it?

GOTTHEIMER: Well, one, as I said, they've got to pick their own folks and make decisions on how they keep bending to the extremists in their party. That is how they've decided to do this. And again, empower them.

But, again, you know, there was a lot of outreach and we tried to find a way forward together. Speaker McCarthy made it clear in his press conference last night, I think he said I'm not going to sell my soul or something like that, referring to working with Democrats on something that we could encourage more bipartisan governing and working together. That's totally his decision. And that's up for him to make, and was up for him to make.

And now, the question is, what do we do going forward? Because to me, that's what country wants us to do? How are you going to make this work? And we've got to figure out ways and it might be looking at the rules to change the rules and change the motion to vacate? So, it's not just one person being able to throw out a speaker. That's a set of rules that we change at the Problem Solvers Caucus in prior -- that changed back this year and I don't think it was a smart move.

But I understand Matt Gaetz wanted it but you're just giving them a loaded weapon when you do that. And it is going to take making sure we change the rules to encourage more bipartisan governing, more Democratic bills being able to get to the floor where both sides can agree, more amendments from Democrats, you know, and encouraging a more bipartisan house.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, CNN exclusive reporting on Hunter Biden's $10 million legal problems. We're back in a moment.


[16:33:04] TAPPER: In our law and justice lead today, former President Trump has seen enough of his own civil fraud trial for now. After sitting in a New York courtroom for two and a half days, he flew back to Mar-a-Lago in Florida. But not before filing an appeal against one of the judge's rulings and taking a parting shot at the judge.

Trump stands to lose quite a bit in this case. Financially, this could spell the end of his entire business career in New York. And already mounting legal bills are causing cracks in his empire, for the second time in three years Trump did not make the cut for the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

Now to exclusive CNN reporting, Joe Biden's son Hunter is in big financial trouble and daddy's friends are not coming to the rescue this time. At least not as of now. Hunter has racked up more than $10 million in legal bills over the past five years and he could need to spend millions more. His allies hope supporters of President Biden would swoop in with fundraising but as of now he might have better luck starting a GoFundMe.

CNN's Paula Reid is here to discuss.

Paula, how did he manage to get $10 million in the hole and how does he plan to get out of it?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He's been under federal investigation for over five years. He had one of the best firms in the country representing him in that probe. We went through a divorce, a messy custody dispute down in Arkansas, and he's also taking on a much more litigious approach to his detractors. He's brought on Abbe Lowell and he's fired up lawsuits against people like Rudy Giuliani and other people who he believes have wronged him and if you're going to take an approach like that, hire lawyers like those at Lathan like Abbe Lowell, that costs a lot of money.

Now, how does he pay for it? Well, one of the lawyers, Kevin Morris, has paid many of his legal bills, but other allies were hoping maybe he could fundraise, maybe some allies of his father would come forward and help. Perhaps that was unrealistic, but it didn't materialize. There was also talk earlier this year of a legal defense fund, that also did not get off the ground.


But now, he is facing a federal trial on these gun charges and possibly an additional trial if he's indicted on those tax charges. And all of the charges were expected to be resolved with a plea deal but now that he's facing one possibly two trials, that is going to be a big legal bill there and it is unclear how he's going to pay it.

TAPPER: And Hunter Biden has you just mentioned, just last week filed a lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani. Another political figure who himself is having trouble paying his legal bills.

Today, Giuliani is filing a lawsuit against President Biden, holding a news conference this time not outside Four Seasons landscapes in my beloved city of Pennsylvania.

Why is Giuliani suing President Biden?

REID: So, let me preface that by saying suing a public figure for something, another public figure, that that public figure said about another public figure, in the course of a political campaign is very difficult. But he is trying to sue the president for defamation and libel for something that Biden said during the 2020 campaign when he accused Giuliani of being a Russian pawn.

But Jake, let me allow Rudy Giuliani to explain this in his own words.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: He said, you're buddy, Rudy Giuliani, he, then he said something we can't understand -- like he does sometimes, is being used as a Russian pawn. He's being fed information that is Russian -- that is not true. I'm trying to give you the flavor of the -- you can go listen to it yourself.


REID: They would not answer exactly how Giuliani is going to pay for this legal effort. He owes other lawyers millions of dollars and earlier today, his Georgia lawyer Brian Teves withdrew from representing him in a Fulton County case, raising more questions about how he's going to pay to defendant himself in that case.

TAPPER: I predict that that is going to go nowhere.

REID: This lawsuit? I think that is a reasonable prediction. This was a sparsely attended press conference and again it is a very high bar. It is unclear why he is doing this now. Again, he owes so many lawyers including some of his closest friends, millions of dollars.

TAPPER: I think I have an idea why. Read today's "New York Times".

REID: Yes.

TAPPER: Paula Reid, thanks so much.

So, the leader of the Republican Party faces a multimillion dollar civil fraud charges and 91 criminal charges. Then, House Republicans currently do not have a leader. My next guest has a unique perspective. Would he say that his party is in crisis?



TAPPER: We are back with more in our law and justice lead.

And my next guest is someone who is perhaps uniquely positioned to discuss the legal drama surrounding former President Donald Trump and the speaker drama unfolding on Capitol Hill. Marc Short, the former White House director of legislative affairs for the Trump administration and former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and former chief of staff of the House Republican Conference.

A lot of hats.


TAPPER: So let's start with the House drama. There are 433 actively serving members of the House. You had a group of eight Republican rebels are ultimately responsible for ousting Kevin McCarthy who I think it is fair to say was responsible for a lot of conservative legislation passing the House, including HR-2, which is this border bill.

You know a lot of people on the Hill, is this how it should work. That one person, Matt Gaetz, should be able to bring a potion to vacate and eight Republicans should be able to, you know, unite with the minority party and topple the speaker?

SHORT: No, certainly not. And I think you saw when Pelosi was speaker. She didn't allow that one motion to vacate within her conference. And I think whoever succeeds Kevin will make sure that rule is changed. I don't think it's the way it is.

But to be fair, it was negotiated by Kevin when he became speaker back in January. It was the condition to get some of the members to support him. But I don't think it's a healthy process, Jake.

TAPPER: No. It's pretty crazy. What do you think the House Republicans are all saying to each other right now? Not the -- I know you don't want to curse, but in terms of figuring out a way forward, we had Congressman Graves on and he said you have to get rid of the motion to vacate. What other things do you think they're saying?

SHORT: Well, I think it's appropriate to give them a few days to get away and come back on Tuesday and have a forum and allow people to present their issues. But I think what's concerning is we really are $33 trillion in debt.


SHORT: We do have a border crisis.

TAPPER: A hundred --

SHORT: There is a lot of issues that need to be solved.


SHORT: But the people who were masquerading as fiscal conservatives really, really aren't, Jake.

I mean, Matt Gaetz, to say he came as a fiscal crusader, he came here for the teenage interns on Capitol Hill to be honest. Look, he's voted for continuing resolutions. He's voted for omnibus bills. He voted for trillions of dollars in COVID spending. Even this year, he put forward an earmark and yet he's presented himself as I'm going to do this for the fiscal benefit of the country. That's not honest. The guy has just had a detest for Kevin and used

the rules to dethrone him.

TAPPER: Well, you know, I have said, there is a border crisis.

SHORT: Yeah.

TAPPER: I mean, at the very least, even if you're a progressive, there is a humanitarian crisis. And they're $33 trillion in debt, the country is, and again, even if you're a progressive, that's $500 billion a year in interest on the debt that we're paying that we could be spending on education or nutrition or whatever.

Like, this isn't partisan. These are American problems. This -- what Matt Gaetz did, what these rebels did, I don't see how it advances solving those problems.

SHORT: Exactly. That is my point. Even a couple of week ago, Kevin put forward was a border security bill and cutting discretionary spending by 8 percent and that's not the issue. Matt Gaetz wanted to take him down. He didn't support that effort actually, have some fiscal control, and how we're going to secure the border.

And as you and I have talked before, the reality is the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the government funding is less than like a half percent of our overall debt.


SHORT: The real issue is entitlement spending that no one wants to address.

TAPPER: Medicare --

SHORT: That's 74 percent of --


SHORT: -- our annual deficits.

TAPPER: Yeah. Well, your boss, to his credit, does want to talk about it.

SHORT: He has been, yeah.

TAPPER: Do you -- I mean, your former boss, Vice President Pence.


Yes, sir, I'm talking -- I want to make sure everyone knows who I'm talking about. Vice President Pence wants to talk about.

Do you think President Trump will have any influence over whom Republicans choose as the next speaker? Right now, there are only two declared candidates, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. SHORT: I think he's always about leverage so if he feels it is a close

race and he can tip the scales one way or the other, then I think he probably will weigh in.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the civil fraud trial against Trump in New York. He says he plans to testify in his own defense in the case. Why do you think he's choosing to testify?

SHORT: I think it's helpful to him politically, Jake. I think the reality is a lot of Americans could look at this case and know it is not a strong case. The reality is that as a real estate developer, anyone would know that even if he did fraudulently assess what the valuations were, anyone who would lend him money would do their own valuation on it and he paid back those loans.

And so, I think that for a lot of Americans, this is just a politically charged prosecution.

TAPPER: Yesterday, Trump was admonished by the judge for a social media post attacking the judge's law clerk, making the false allegation that the law clerk who is not a public figure was Chuck Schumer's girlfriend. Again, that's a smear, it's not true.

What do you think is going through Trump's mind right now? And are we going to see the attacks get wilder as the trials and the campaign continue?

SHORT: Well, I don't think that they've been limited from getting wild. I think his attacks on people who could be testifying against him for the January 6 trial has certainly already happened, whether or not his attacks on the former vice president, on General Milley. So, I think that has continued and probably will continue.

TAPPER: All right. Marc Short, good to see you again. Thank you so much.

SHORT: Thanks, Jake. I appreciate it.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the disturbing lawsuit from a CIA staffer alleging a sexual assault at CIA headquarters. And the response she reported got when he tried to take her claims to the police.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: So, in our law and justice lead, a CIA staffer is suing the agency, accusing the CIA of intimidation and witness tampering over an alleged sexual assault in a secluded stairwell at CIA headquarters last year. She says a male trainee, quote, wrapped a scarf tightly around her neck, began strangling her with it, made lewd remarks and tried to kiss her forcibly on her mouth, unquote.

The lawsuit claims the CIA warned the staffer that reporting the assault to law enforcement would case them to stop their investigation. But the CIA staffer did report the attack to law enforcement. Her assailant was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery in August.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis is here.

Katie Bo, what more can you tell us about the disturbing details in this lawsuit?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Jake, so I spoke to the victim's lawyer this morning, and he says while he remains deeply concerned over what she said were multiple instances in which the CIA actively tried to discourage her from reporting the attack at the time to law enforcement, what has allowed him to bring legal action in this moment is a series of internal instant messages between the victim and another employee of the CIA that the CIA ultimately decided to voluntarily provide to her attacker's defense counsel during his criminal proceedings in August.

So during this trial in August, the victim's lawyer receives notification from her attacker's lawyers saying, look, we have these internal messages between your client and another member of the CIA. According to the lawsuit, the CIA not only voluntarily turned over those messages to her attacker, but the suit claims also selectively edited them in such a way that it makes it appear as if the victim was having an extramarital affair, which she denies.

So, for example, according to the suit, a message in which she is talking about feeling sore from a workout at the gym was allegedly presented in such a way that made it look like she was talking about being sore from a sexual encounter with this other employee, again, something that the victim denies.

So for the victim, she is saying that this is the CIA attempting to intimidate her from testifying at her attacker's trial and ultimately help him get off.

TAPPER: Is the CIA commenting? I mean, if that's accurate, that's reprehensible.

LILLIS: So, the CIA is not commenting on the case directly citing the ongoing litigation. They do say that they as a matter -- as a general matter, follow the law that protects the privacy of their officers and they are extremely committed to sort of addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment claims from inside the agency. But we do know that this victim is not the only woman who has come forward claiming that the agency mishandled her report of sexual misconduct.

The Senate and the House Intelligence Committees are both investigating this sort of broader problem as is the CIA inspector general. And so, what's important about this case is that It's within of the first sort of public glimpses that we have gotten into what exactly the allegations against the CIA with regards to their handling of sexual misconduct cases actually are.

TAPPER: All right. Stay on top of this story, really important. Really appreciate it. Katie Bo Lillis, thanks so much.

Coming up, House Republicans have given themselves a full week before they even start voting on who will be the next speaker. So, what exactly are they doing in the meantime? And a vilified world leader may be watching it all from thousands of miles away and relishing in this mess. That's ahead.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, what prosecutors did not explain in their 39-page indictment against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. "The New York Times" went digging, and they uncovered the details of a deadly car crash kept quiet for years, and Menendez's wife was behind the wheel. How they might explain the Mercedes-Benz convertible she was allegedly given through close connections of the senator.

Plus, the unintended targets of yet another mass shooting, 531 of them in the U.S. just this year alone. What police are saying about the latest one on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore.

And leading this hour, who will be the next speaker of the House? As a few Republican names lobby for the title, another important question is starting to emerge. Will Republicans keep the rule that got them into this mess? The rule that allowed just a single member of Congress to motion for a vote on removing the speaker?

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz used that rule on McCarthy and then seven of his Republican colleagues joined him.