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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Stormy Daniels Back On The Stand Tomorrow; Trump Asks Appeals Court To Rule On Gag Order Challenge; Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY), Is Interviewed About House Kills Rep. Greene's Effort To Remove Speaker Johnson. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 08, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, the wild Robert F. Kennedy Jr. court deposition in which he claimed a worm ate part of his brain and then died inside his head. What his campaign is telling CNN about this admission from the independent presidential candidate.

Plus, a group of us lawmakers demanding to know why video obtained by CNN contradicts Pentagon reports about that chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and the explosion outside the Kabul airport. Thirteen U.S. Service Members were killed in that blast, hundreds or dozens at least of Afghans. Some of the gold star families are now accusing the Pentagon of telling lies.

And leading this hour, as the New York hush money cover up case picks back up tomorrow in New York, a change in tactics from Donald Trump's legal team, we're told, when it comes to adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels being back on the stand. Let's go to CNN's Paula Reid in New York.

And Paula, the defense cross examination of Stormy Daniels, we were told it originally was expected to be fairly brief, but sources are telling you that's changed why?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have a while to go at this point. And the reason they want to spend more time here is because they were surprised that in her testimony as she raised the possibility that the sexual encounter was not consensual, something that she had not previously said. Though in her new documentary, she does sort of raise this idea, saying that it reminded her of being a young girl. She is, of course, a sexual abuse survivor. So they're going to take more time to go back through those statements.

This is really more focused on his reputation and possible reputational damage for some of the things that she said as opposed to the nuts and bolts of the case.

TAPPER: Big picture, would you say that Stormy Daniels testimony so far has laid the groundwork for the prosecution to prove its case or not so much? REID: Look, this case does not succeed or fail on the testimony of Stormy Daniels. She's a main character, no doubt, but she has no knowledge of the actual criminal charge at the heart of this case, which is falsifying business records. But what she was able to offer prosecutors was a firsthand account of exactly what happened in this alleged encounter that Trump would want to suppress in October 2016, right? She could explain to the jury what was it that was worth $130,000 after the access Hollywood tape but before Election Day?

Another helpful thing she did for prosecutors was she to undercut a key defense argument, and that is that this money was paid to protect Trump's family because she said she was never asked to keep their encounter confidential. They subsequently met in multiple public places, including one time with another alleged mistress, Karen McDougal. So, she was helpful to prosecutors, but by no means is she going to make this case.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, stick around. Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst Karen Friedman Agnifilo and Manhattan Criminal Defense attorney Stacy Schneider.

Stacy, are you surprised at all that the defense is going to take some extra time with Stormy Daniels? Apparently, they're going to go after her even more aggressively, try to undermine her credibility. Is that the right move, do you think?

STACY SCHNEIDER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE TRIAL ATTORNEY: Yes, I'm not surprised at all they're taking extra time with her on cross examination, which resumes tomorrow, because she went a little bit off the rails in her testimony, meaning that she gave a lot of details about the alleged sexual encounter between her and Donald Trump in the hotel room. And there was a ruling at the bench with the judge before that happened that she could talk about the affair, but the judge did not want her to get into the details of it. And a couple of times during her testimony, even the judge had to say to her, slow down or answer the question you're being asked, because she was expanding well beyond the scope of the initial question from the prosecutor. So what the defense really has to do now is sort of repair that.

It's almost like reputational damage. And Paula is right, this is not crucial testimony to the case, whether or not they had this affair. The reason why Stormy Daniels is introduced as a witness in this case is to show Donald Trump's alleged motive and intent in hushing that story up, in procuring that story, why there was value to him near the campaign time to hush up the story. So, they're going to keep attacking her credibility. And they began doing that yesterday.

And when they get back on the stand tomorrow, I'm not surprised they're going to go much farther by continuing to hammer away at her credibility because she gave so many details. They have to sort of counter that by doing it that way.

TAPPER: And Karen, you're the former chief of assistant district attorney for the Manhattan D.A.'s office. What's the goal here? The defense wants to ultimately paint Stormy as having made up this entire story? KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they want to make her out to be a liar and an extortionist and an opportunist and kind of just somebody who is just looking for -- and, you know, she's made a career out of making money off of this encounter with Donald Trump. And so, they want to just paint her as a really deplorable person who should not believed. And that's why I think they're going to go after her pretty hard. And they're going to look at her prior, the documentary she made and statements in that as well as there was Anderson Cooper interview as well as a 60 Minutes interview, and I think they're going to go back and look at all of those. And if there's any inconsistency whatsoever, they will definitely use that to cross examine her tomorrow.


TAPPER: And, Paula, we're still waiting for Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, to be called as a witness. I guess his testimony could really make or break the trial. Have his past comments on this case been relatively consistent? What do we expect to hear from him on the stand?

REID: Is that a joke?

TAPPER: Not really, but yes.

REID: No, he has absolutely not been consistent historically. And like I said, Stormy Daniels won't make or break this case. But at this point, Jake, it really does look like Michael Cohen will be the only direct link between the defendant and this alleged conspiracy to falsify business records. The only other person who could speak to it is Allen Weisselberg. He's currently the former CFO of the Trump Organization. He's in Rikers, as I am told, there's no plan to call him.

So Michael Cohen gets on the stand. He's going to give the jury his version of events. Now, he is historically an unreliable narrator. He has given slightly different stories over the years. But he knows here, look, he needs to earn the trust of the jury.

And some folks have asked me why Trump's lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, hasn't done more of the cross examinations in this case. That is because he is solely focused on the cross examination of Michael Cohen. This is going to be really the defense's case in many ways. We are going to hear every tweet, every tick tock, every podcast where Trump -- where he has said critical things of Trump, where he's called for him to be jailed. This is likely going to go on for three days total with Michael Cohen.

And what we saw was Stormy Daniels, where they got her to admit that she hates Trump, that she'd dance if he goes to jail, caught her in some contradictory statements, talked about her financial incentives related to the case that was the trailer for what we're going to see with Michael Cohen.

TAPPER: Yes, I said just for the record, Paula, I said relatively consistent. I mean, I haven't seen a room full of so many unreliable narrators since murder on the Orient Express.

Stacy, Trump's defense team has asked the New York appeals court to expedite the appeal of the gag order, which limits what Trump can say about the witnesses in this trial. How quickly could they rule on this, do you think?

SCHNEIDER: They might not rule quickly at all because the harm -- you know, the harm is really outside the courtroom. The trial is proceeding despite him being found in violation of the gag order. And the appellate court moves more quickly when the harm is more egregious and right up front. So, I'm not sure they're going to rush this issue. But, you know, there was something interesting that happened yesterday really quickly about the defense team asked for a mistrial during Stormy Daniels testimony because she went so far afield in answering the questions with all these extra details.

And the defense was arguing this is going to prejudice Donald Trump. And Judge Merchan decided that what had happened in court was not enough to cause prejudice, at least at the trial level. And there was a limiting instruction that was given to the jury to disregard part of the testimony that wasn't crucial to what she was being asked. That was really more irrelevant and extraneous facts and that were embarrassing to Donald Trump. There was a little bit of TMI yesterday, too much information, coming from her testimony.

So that's something that I am certain the Trump team, depending on what happens here, obviously, if there's a conviction, that is something they are going to go to the appellate court with as something they preserve the record on.

TAPPER: Yes. And Karen, to be fair to Mr. Trump, I mean, it wasn't just TMI, although there certainly was TMI. It was also this suggestion being made by Stormy Daniels that there was some coercion involved, not physical coercion. And she certainly said that she was -- it was consensual, but she certainly seemed to suggest she was kind of -- she felt pressured and regretted it all.

AGNIFILO: I mean, look, those are her facts. She was very clear. She never said it was not consensual. She said she didn't want to do it. It was not something she wanted to do, and she just found herself doing it.

I mean, that's her story. And so she gets to tell it how she wants. Her credibility is an issue. They are denying that any of this happened, that they had any relationship with her. There was that famous video of him being asked on Air Force one of whether he knew her, he denied it.

And so, he put her credibility in issues. So the prosecution is allowed to ask details, because the details are what show that it -- that whether or not someone is telling the truth. And she talked about things like the furniture was heavy and the suite was bigger than my first three apartments. I mean, things like that. If she hadn't been there, she wouldn't know those types of details.

[17:10:17] So I thought it was fair game from the prosecution's standpoint to elicit that, because her credibility has been an issue called into question by the defense.

TAPPER: All right, Karen Friedman, Agnifilo, Stacy Schneider, and Paula Reid, thanks to all of you.

And as court resumes tomorrow morning, keep it here on CNN for special coverage. Picketing up at 09:30 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up, the shady money running some of the biggest circles of politics. I'm going to speak to the authors of a brand new tell all book. But first, the bizarre admission from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.. Did you know that he says he once had a worm in his head that ate part of his brain? We're going to talk about that next.


TAPPER: Time for our 2024 lead. Please cue the music. Yes. All right. Election jam.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. today is probably focused on how to deal with press fallout for this bizarre story from the "New York Times," where he apparently at one point testified that a worm got into his brain and ate part of his brain. We'll have more of that -- more on that in a moment.


But in the meantime, Kennedy's campaign is fighting to get him on the ballot in more states. And CNN's Eva McKend has more on RFK Jr.'s ballot access strategy.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is on a state by state mission to get his name on the ballot.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., (I) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have ballot access in every state by the end of July.

MCKEND (voice-over): If his campaign reaches that goal, it could solidify Kennedy's status as a major wild card in a November rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

MCKEND: Do you think he can win?

DREW DIETLE, KENNEDY SUPPRTER: Absolutely. Yes. The road is wide open for a third party candidate to be successful this time around.

MCKEND (voice-over): At this point, the independent candidate has qualified for the ballot in five states, Michigan, a key battleground, plus California, Hawaii, Utah, and Delaware. The Kennedy campaign also says it has collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in seven additional states, including Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio.

An aligned super PAC spent more than $2 million on collecting signatures to help Kennedy gain ballot access, but has since abandoned those plans, deferring to the campaign. A Kennedy campaign official tells CNN, "It never planned on relying on other entities" for ballot efforts.

DAN TWELMEYER, KENNEDY SUPPORTER: People on both sides are waking up and wanting an option.

MCKEND (voice-over): Kennedy's campaign pursuing a variety of paths as it seeks to secure ballot access. In Iowa, Kennedy attempted to qualify for the ballot in a single day by holding a convention with 500 eligible voters from across the state.

JERRY DANHORNE, KENNEDY SUPPORTER: This is America. I thought we, you know, as an independent, why can't we have a third choice?

MCKEND (voice-over): Obtaining ballot access can be an expensive and challenging effort, depending on the state. Take Florida, where the campaign will need roughly 145,000 verified signatures. His campaign also sending teams to college campuses in states like Maryland, where he'll need to collect 10,000 signatures.

BENJAMIN NOVAK, MARYLAND COLLEGE STUDENT: If I'm going to be honest, I'm not a huge Kennedy fan, but I think it's important to have options for third party candidates, even if, like, they're not your favorite it sets a good president for the future.

MCKEND (voice-over): In some states where it is easier to use a new political party to get on the ballot, Kennedy has formed the We the People Party. While in Michigan, he's running as the natural law party's candidate, using ballot access already won by an existing minor party. In California, he gained ballot access through the American Independent Party.

KENNEDY: This process is forcing us to build our army now.

MCKEND (voice-over): Early polls show Kennedy making an unusually strong showing in the November general election, adding a major dose of uncertainty to how his candidacy could affect the outcome of a close race between Biden and Trump. With Kennedy's prospects hinging on his ballot push, many of his supporters say they're ready for a change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's an attorney, an environmental attorney for the last 40 years, so he's clearly working for the people.


TAPPER: And we have some breaking news for you now, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has just called for a vote to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson. She is speaking on the House floor right now. It's called a motion to vacate. Let's listen in. REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Whereas in September 1, 2023, Speaker Johnson failed to protect the republican majority when he allowed multiple votes to remove another Republican from the House of Representatives. It was unprecedented for a member to be removed from Congress by a two thirds vote prior to conviction of a crime. To this day, the Republican expelled from the House under Speaker Johnson has not been convicted of a crime. Meanwhile, a Democrat now holds that seat. Whereas Speaker Johnson supported fully funding abortion, the trans agenda, the climate agenda, foreign wars, and Biden's border crisis, rather than ensuring liberty, opportunity, and security for all Americans.

Whereas Speaker Johnson relied on Democrat votes on at least two occasions, with the first transgression occurring on March 22, 2024, with the House passage of H. Res. 1102, part two of the Johnson- Schumer omnibus. And the second transgression occurring on April 2024, with House passage of HR 8035, the $61 billion Ukraine funding bill. On both occasions, the majority of the majority --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delay, we'll suspend.

GREENE: On both occasions, the majority of the majority 112 Republicans voted against the measures, while only 101 voted in favor. Whereas before Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker, our conference had passed seven appropriation bills, which were some of the strongest conservative bills passed in decades, Speaker Johnson refused to continue this important process. He instead led us to another CR on January 18, 2024, and got it passed with the support of 207 Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, the House is not in order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lady is recognized.

GREENE: And only 107 Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you want?

GREENE: While 106 Republicans voted against it. Whereas Speaker Johnson passed a third CR, this time calling it a process CR, as if that made continuing Nancy Pelosi's budget yet again any different from the previous CR's. Whereas with little to no communication with our conference, Speaker Johnson passed the first omnibus appropriations bill on March 6, and passed the second omnibus appropriation bill two weeks later on March 22. Whereas a two part omnibus split into two minibuses was crammed down our throats and passed under suspension of the rules with only one day to review it. Whereas Speaker Johnson's omnibus did nothing to stop Biden's deadly border invasion, it fully funded it.

Speaker Johnson did nothing to stop the energy killing Green New Deal climate agenda, he fully funded it. He did nothing to stop the weaponized Department of Justice and FBI, he fully funded them. He did nothing to stop the trans agenda on kids, he fully funded it. He did nothing to stop full term abortions, he fully funded them. He did nothing to stop the fueling of forever foreign wars, he fully funded them.

Whereas on April 18, 2024, the Rules Committee passed H. Res. 1160, the rule providing for consideration of the $95 billion foreign funding package by a vote of nine to three.

TAPPER: OK, so we are listening right now to Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green from the MAGA wing of the Republican Party make a number of allegations against the republican speaker Mike Johnson, some of them accurate, some of them wildly unhinged, such as Speaker Johnson fully funding late home abortion. I have no idea what that's based on. But in any case, this is a real moment in history. We'll see if Marjorie Taylor Greene is able to get 218 votes to remove Speaker Johnson. I would guess not, but I don't know as much as CNN's Manu Raju does. And he's on Capitol Hill.

Manu, I see Congressman Tom Massie from Kentucky there.


TAPPER: Oh, let's listen in.

RAJU: One second, Jake, we got reaction here.

TAPPER: Yes, go, go, go.

REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Marjorie Greene is calling for a motion to vacate. Listen, all of us in life get to decide how we handle disappointment. You can be productive or you can be destructive. Ms. Taylor Greene is choosing destructive. We know that this motion is not going to do one thing to make America stronger.

It's not going to do one thing to deliver a conservative victory. It's going to sow discord and dissent. And by the way, it's going to fail. She is engaged in a failing act of political theater. What you have here are some of the main street members who are the adults, and we're going to do what adults do. We are going to ignore the tantrums and instead work to actually govern this country. With that, we've got the vice chair of the main street, Stephanie Bice.

REP. STEPHANIE BICE (R-OK): Look, I think Dusty said it well. We've been down this road. There is no plan. Marjorie wants to, you know, sow chaos and division within the Republican Party. Someone has to govern.

We have the smallest majority in history currently, and this speaker has been put in an untenable situation to try to govern with the one seat majority in the House, Democrat controlled Senate and a Democratic White House. We are up against a wall here. And the American people are frustrated. They are angry. They have had enough.

They want Republicans to govern. This does not help. It's not effective. It's actually sowing, I think, division within the conference. We've got to get back on track.

[17:25:02] We understand the frustration with the border. All of us standing here before you realize the border is an issue, we want to solve it too. But holding government hostage is not the way to do that.

JOHNSON: Mr. Armstrong from North Dakota.

REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Oh, hi. Yes. They're asking the impossible. They refuse to vote for a rule in which means you have to bring things to the floor without either with Democratic support. And then when you get democratic support, then they get mad at you for getting Democratic support.

We all wish we could have a larger conservative majority. We wish we had the Senate. We wish we had the presidency. We do not have any of those things. A lot of the same people that are frustrated in dealing with all of this have had the opportunity to do these things and move forward.

And the reality of this is like the congressional version of a temper tantrum. And we continue to do it. We continue to move forward. And what we're really doing and what they're really allowing to happen is for the Democrats to coalesce on issues that we are -- that we are -- that we are divided, and Ukraine is a perfect example. I disagreed with the speaker on the Ukraine vote.

But the reason we don't have we -- aren't allowed to bring amendments to that is because we have people in our party that sank the rule, 55 of them, which gets us to a point where we have to be where we're at. And I have probably have the longest personal relationship of Mike Johnson of anybody here. I served with him when I got here in Congress in 2018. If Mike Johnson is not thoughtful enough and not conservative enough for -- to be the speaker of the House, then we have real problems, because there ain't anybody else that's going to be acceptable for that job.

JOHNSON: Most of us, by the time we turn 12 years old, figure out that tantrums don't actually work. And apparently not everybody in Congress has got the memo. Mr. LaLota from New York.

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY): On both sides of the aisle, there are too many show ponies and not enough workhorses. Beside, behind me are some serious members of the Republican conference who came here to govern, who came here to fix issues on the border, fix issues on inflation. We remain focused on those issues and we will not be distracted by Marjorie Taylor Greene and this waste of time motion to vacate that will not have the support. Too many members of Congress are here to seek attention for themselves, not here to represent constituents and represent the country. There are serious issues that deserve the country's attention, that deserves the Congress's attention.

Folks beside and behind me are the ones leading their charge on that. I'm proud to stand with them today.

JOHNSON: Ms. De La Cruz from Texas.

REP. MONICA DE LA CRUZ (R-TX): Thank you. Look, all of us here, we stand behind Speaker Johnson. Nobody, not any American, wants to see part two of a motion to vacate. It is destructive to America and it does not help the crisis on our border. Speaker Mike Johnson was at our border just last week and received overwhelming support from all sides of the aisle, red, blue, and in the middle, purple. I will tell you this is unnecessary.

And it is destructive to the future of the Republican Party, but to America. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Mr. D'Esposito, New York. And then we'll have Mr. Lawler, and then we'll take a few questions.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): Well, I think Kelly said it best in that we wish we had a larger majority in the House. We wish we had the Senate, and we wish we had the presidency. And the best way to get there is by being a unified Republican conference, and stunts like this does not unify our conference. Our focus should be growing our majority, taking the Senate and electing Donald Trump president in November. That should be the focus.

These tantrums, taking the country down this course again, like we saw months ago, it's not what we're going to do. It's not going to pass. And after today's vote, we will continue governing the way Republicans should.

JOHNSON: Amen. Mr. Lawler of New York.

REP. MICHAEL LAWLER (R-NY): Moscow Marjorie has clearly gone off the deep end, maybe the result of a space laser. But this type of tantrum is absolutely unacceptable, and it does nothing to further the cause of the conservative movement. The only people who have stymied our ability to govern are the very people that have pulled these types of stunts throughout the course of this congress to undermine the House Republican majority. The American people gave us the responsibility to serve as a check and balance on Joe Biden and his disastrous policies from the disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine that resulted, the terrorist attack on Israel because of the appeasement of Iran, the increase in Iranian petroleum sales, $88 billion, and the fiasco at our southern border, that is a direct result of the policies of Joe Biden.

The reason we don't have border security is because we have members in our conference who refused to pass a rule. Members in our conference who refused to sign on to a CR that had border security, members in our conference who have continually undermined the speaker's ability to negotiate. That is why if they're so upset about the things that haven't happened, they should take a look in a mirror starting with Marjorie Taylor Green.

RAJU: How do you think this episode reflects on that House Republican majority right now among your constituents, among voters, as you ask them to give you the majority again?

[17:30:10] REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Well, most Americans are busy leading real life, and I've got bad news for Marjorie. People are going to pay attention to this story for about an hour, and then they're going to go back to real life. This is not going to make her any more famous than she is. This is not going to change the arc or the trajectory of American history. This will be a flash in a pan. She will be sorely disappointed. The rest of us are going to get back to work.

Hold on. Hold on. Let's get Ms. Bice if she's going to anything to say.

REP. STEPHANIE BICE (R-OK): I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, this is, I think, a distraction for all of us. And I would go back to, you know, we've tried to be thoughtful about putting legislation forward. Is it everything that we want? No. There are certain things that we would like to see, and we recognize that the border is a big issue. But the strategies that our colleagues, some of our colleagues are taking as we are, you know, going down this path are destructive. They're not helpful, and they don't move us forward. The country is tired of this. I hear it from my constituents every time I go home. Please get back to governing. And that's what we're here to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I just ask about, you know, Trump has backed Johnson publicly, and, you know, there's been a lot of reporting that he tried to discourage her from doing this. Can you guys talk about that at all? And just, you know, where that leaves her and Trump?

JOHNSON: Mr. Miller from Ohio.

REP. MAX MILLER (R-OH): Well, somewhat familiar with the situation. I won't speak for President Trump. What I can tell you is that I believe that this isn't the way that he wanted it to go. And I think that Marjorie is going to find herself in a very lonely place. And one of the biggest things that I think we have the biggest problem with is the disinformation that she continues to put out as a member of Congress and actually what she's doing right now on the House floor.

Ms. Bice just touched on. We have gotten wins for the border, for the American people that nobody talks about. In the last appropriations package, we added 8,000 detention beds and roughly 22,000 CBP additional officers to the border. When Republicans go out there and say that we haven't done anything and it's not our number one priority, they're lying only to elevate their platform.

I think what this is that Marjorie got sick and tired of people like Mr. Gaetz hogging all of the attention as he usually does. And she said enough is enough. And she took the spotlight, saying she was going to do the motion to vacate on Ukraine. She had brought it up before Ukraine had even hit the floor, which should tell you one thing again, for the second time, this failed experiment. Sometimes it's about members of Congress and not about the American people. And hopefully that you all see that, and so do the American people when they see acts like this that Marjorie is doing.

RAJU: Could she be kicked out of the conference? JOHNSON: Let's take two more and then we got to go in and do our work. Khadiya (ph), did you have something?

RAJU: Mr. Miller?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to ask about --

MILLER: We need the majority.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- New York how vulnerable does this make you, having to do this once again? Talk to New Yorkers and explain that, you know, here we are.

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY): I think elections are about distinction. In New York, that's the case. And we're happy to distinguish ourselves from Marjorie Taylor Greene and these antics that she's providing on the floor today. They do not represent what we feel. That's why we're on the steps right now while she's spewing false rhetoric on the floor. We are here right now to provide a distinction that we are much different from that. We will tell folks in Washington, tell folks back home, that this does not represent who we are.

JOHNSON: Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your advice to Democrats who heard the speaker this morning say that 2020 was a doubtful election and they're worried about non-citizens voting in 2024?

JOHNSON: Listen, Democrats in the House, they get to make their own decision. They can vote in a way that keeps stability and predictability for this government, or they can throw us into chaos. I would hope that their decision today will be to choose stability and predictability. Somebody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They chose that once already.

JOHNSON: Yes, right. OK, we'll do one more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a motion on the table expected today? Could that be brought today? Is that going to be brought today?

JOHNSON: We're not in a position to talk about tactics on the record. Afterwards, if somebody wants to know the state of prey off the record, I'd be happy to tell them what I know. Anything else on the record?

RAJU: Should you -- do you think Marjorie Taylor Greene should be punished?

JOHNSON: One dumpster fire at a time. Let's take care of the motion to vacate and then we can worry about whatever comes next. Thanks, everybody.

TAPPER: OK, one dumpster fire at a time. In the infamous words of Congressman Dusty Johnson, Republican of South Dakota. We'll sum everything up in a second. What we think is going on the floor right now is the clerk of the House is reading Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's motion to vacate to get rid of Speaker Mike Johnson.

You just heard from eight different Republicans who disagree with Marjorie Taylor Greene. Seven of them, I think, are from the main street caucus, people trying to find governing solutions, even if they are very conservative Republicans such as Congressman Johnson of South Dakota, Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and then three New York representatives, I think all of them from districts that Joe Biden won, and then Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz from Texas. And then you also had Max Miller there at the end, a former Trump advisor turned congressman from Ohio, saying that what Marjorie Taylor Greene was not what Donald Trump wanted to happen.


Manu Raju, I believe what's going to happen now is that the clerk of the House is reading her motion to vacate. I think then what I believe what we're told is it's Mr. Scalise, who's a member of leadership, will offer a motion to table, which is basically saying, get this garbage off our desk here. And then there will be a roll call vote on that. And if it gets 218 votes, the motion to table, then her motion to vacate is gone. Is that accurate?

RAJU: Yes, that's correct. We do expect that to happen in this vote series. That will be a procedural vote to essentially kill this effort to oust Mike Johnson from the speakership. This Marjorie Taylor Greene resolution, by saying motion to table, that essentially kills it for good. And that's what we expect to succeed. The effort to kill Marjorie Taylor Greene's motion to oust Mike Johnson, meaning that this effort will essentially die because of opposition, not just from most Republicans, but also Democrats as well.

Hakeem Jefferies, a Democratic leader, made clear about a week ago or so ago that they would not support Marjorie Taylor Greene's effort to push out Mike Johnson from the speakership, in large part because of some of the deals that he made, including on the $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, the very same deal that got him in hot water with Marjorie Taylor Greene, part of the reason why she is calling for this vote to oust him from the speakership. But this vote to kill, this Marjorie Taylor Greene's resolution, it just requires a simple majority to succeed.

So even if there are more than a handful of Republicans who want to keep this issue alive and try to actually force Mike Johnson from the speakership, there are more than enough Democrats who have eventually quashed this altogether, much different than last fall, when Democrats joined Republican led effort by Matt Gaetz to push out Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. At that point, they did not -- weren't able to kill the motion, and they went and actually voted out McCarthy. Of course, that was the first time ever that happened in history that led to a paralyzed house.

But there is so much anger in the House right now, and you could hear it on the floor of the House when Marjorie Taylor Greene went to the floor just moments ago and announced her plan to move ahead with this vote. Members of the House on both sides of the aisle booed her. Listen.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): -- to be vacant.

CROWD: Boo. Boo. Boo. Boo. Boo.

GREENE: This is the UNA Party for the American people watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentle lady will suspend.


RAJU: So you can see there how -- where the sentiment lies in the House. The question is going to be, Jake, how many Republicans do join her even though she does not have the votes to succeed in this? Are there more than a handful? I do -- I have spoken to some who believe that they'll vote to advance this resolution because they believe it deserves a vote on its merits, an up or down vote about whether to kick Johnson out of the speakership. So some may vote to advance it for that reason. Other ones are just angry at some of Mike Johnson's decision making.

One of them, Congressman Chip Roy of Texas, he has not said how he would vote on this, but he has been angry. One of the members of the hard right who is not like what Mike Johnson has done on a number of key issues. How does he vote? Those will be some questions. And then the ultimate reason, one big reason why Johnson has tried to head this off is because he does not want to show weakness among the speakership.

I want to show how many Republicans actually would oppose him or want him out of the speakership, because if there are more than a handful, Jake, then perhaps people will start talking about him in the idea of a lame duck, being a lame duck speaker and something that he simply started a discussion he does not want to have at this moment as they try to unify ahead of November.

But so many questions here, Jake, about the ultimate, about how many people may vote for it. But there's no question about this. This effort will fail by a bipartisan majority will kill this amid opposition from not just Democrats, but those angry Republicans you just heard on the steps of House, Jake.

TAPPER: So there are only four more Republicans in the House than there are Democrats. I believe it's a constantly shifting number because of retirements and deaths and the like. But I believe that on a strictly party line vote, Speaker Johnson can only afford to lose one vote from his Republicans. And obviously, there are two Republicans there, Tom Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are going to vote. And you suggested that there are probably going to be others voting against the motion to table and maybe even voting to remove him.

And then the big question, of course, is of the 213 Democrats, if that's the correct number, again, it changes week by week. How are they going to vote?

RAJU: Yes. And it's a good question because there are those members on the left, particularly more of the more progressive members who are saying that they would not support a conservative speaker, saying that they're going to vote out, they would try to vote out Mike Johnson if they could, but that is not the view of the Democratic leadership. Hakeem Jeffries made clear where he stands. And a lot of the more mainstream Democrats, the people who are aligned with leadership, more moderate members, are aligned with Hakeem Jeffries on this issue. So we expect a sizable amount.


You know, it's unclear exactly how many. I would bet there may be 30 or 40 Democrats who may vote to try to advance this resolution. We'll see. They have not formally whipped this. They're not formally actually asked their members how they will come down. They said this is a vote of conscience. That's what the leadership has been telling their members. So they can vote however they want, but typically, that's how it would go in this case. And is that -- and so we expect a sizable amount of those 213 Democrats, most of them, a majority of them, to vote -- to keep Mike Johnson in the speakership.

So it will -- her effort will fail. This is another question, Jake, if this becomes an issue again later in the Congress, if Mike Johnson does something to anger Republicans and people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and others try to take advantage of the situation, will Democrats change their mind at that point? One Democratic member, Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told me about a week or so ago that Jeffries informed her on the floor this would be essentially a one-time deal to save Mike Johnson speakership.

Now, we have asked Jeffries that himself. Is this a one-time deal? And he has refused to say. So if this becomes an issue again later in this Congress, Democrats will have to reassess how they deal with it at that point. So a lot of questions down the line, but really just underscores the point. This has been one of the most chaotic, messy Congresses in memory, and large part because of this narrow Republican majority, this hard right flank, who has been angry at their leadership, kicked out one speaker in a historic fashion and has been embroiled in this internal battle that has stymie their agenda, led to members campaigning against other members in their primaries, and now a new effort to kick off their latest House speaker, their second of this Congress. But because of this bipartisan majority, that effort will fail, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, stand by. The breaking news, we are watching history happen. The House floor is shown right there after Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene just filed a motion to vacate, to remove Speaker Mike Johnson, who I think just empirically is the most conservative Republican to hold that job in the modern era, though he also has the narrowest majority in the modern era.

To remove him from the leadership position, multiple Republican sources telling CNN that House Republicans were completely caught off guard by Greene's decision to do this today and this moment. We're going to take a break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: And welcome back. We're watching the breaking news on Capitol Hill. Right now, the House of Representatives is voting to table or kill a motion by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Minutes ago, she moved for a vote to oust the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson. It's called a motion to vacate or MTV. It appears there are more than enough votes to kill her motion.

There's still a minute and 20 remaining in the vote, and already she is getting slapped by 335 members of Congress, including 188 Republicans at this point and 149 Democrats. Those numbers keep changing. I want to bring in Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York, who joins us on the phone. Congressman, so this is an overwhelming rejection for Marjorie Taylor Greene. Do you think she expected something different?

LAWLER: No, I think she expected this. She very clearly was told by everyone that they were going to reject the motion to vacate. But, you know, as I said just a short while ago, Moscow Marjorie has lost her mind. Clearly the result of the space laser. I mean, this whole episode, this little tantrum of hers is absurd. And it does nothing to advance the conservative movement. All it does is undermine the House Republican majority, which the American people elected.

You know, for those that are complaining about the fact that we don't have border security, that is a result of their inability to work as a conference, as a team, to give the speaker the most leverage in negotiations. I want border security. It's why I voted for H.R. 2. It's why I voted for a C.R. that had border security.

But, you know, folks like Marjorie, who refused to cooperate as a team, this is the end result, you know, the things that they advocate for, where they can advance, and they try to grind everything to a halt in a temper tantrum as a result.

TAPPER: Why do you think -- here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- nays are 43, with seven answering present. The motion is adopted without objection. The motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

TAPPER: So that is the death of Marjorie Taylor Greene's motion to vacate offered by Congressman Steve Scalise. Motion to table is essentially Kristi Noem taking a shotgun to cricket's head. It's a -- it's the death of that effort. Why do you think she moved for the motion to vacate now, when she's been in the middle of conversations with Speaker Johnson this week, and he has been making an effort to talk to her for hours and hours and hours. And obviously they agree on a lot of issues, just his majority is, you know, pretty slim. LAWLER: Because, again, some people aren't serious about governing and actually getting things done. They would rather just get attention for throwing tempered tantrums and acting out. This is part of the problem with Congress. You have members on both sides of the aisle who are more interested in conspiracy theories and crazy, you know, political games than they are and actually the hard work of governing.


And so it's extremely frustrating when, you know, the vast majority of members as you --

TAPPER: I don't know if the congressman was walking into a -- it sounds like we lost him. Anyway, let's go to the panel while we wait for Congressman Mike Lawler to join us. Sometimes, as I know from firsthand, and I'm sure everybody here can speak, are you talking on the phone in the Capitol and all of a sudden you lose any sort of communications. Matt Gorman, former Republican Hill staffer what is this? What is this mess?

MATT GORMAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TIM SCOTT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: About 30 minutes of chaos, if not, 20 minutes. What I was surprised more than anything else was after Donald Trump explicitly told her to not do this. It is unhelpful to not just the party, but to me, she still went ahead with it. And I think that was very, very telling. And I think one other part, certainly, Congressman Lawler, the press conference we had over there, don't underestimate how actively people in the House dislike each other, personally. I think that is what you're getting now as well, the active dislike among people of different parties, same party. That absolutely plays a role here, too.

TAPPER: So go ahead.

MCKEND: You see, this is why, though, I think that this is not purely an attention seeking exercise, right, because really, she has a lot to lose. She's alienated herself from much of the conference. She went against Trump. I think, and from covering Congressman Massie and the Kentucky delegation for quite some time, I think that they are taking a principled position.

And in the meantime, what they have done, and I know that this was not their intention, but probably strengthened those swing state Democrats because you have people like Congressman Lawler who can go back to his district and seem very reasonable now, even though many of the people opposing her are extremely conservative, they can make a case to voters. Look, we're nothing like Marjorie Taylor Greene.

TAPPER: So one of the things that's interesting, I mean, he -- Congressman Lawler said that there are bad actors on both sides, glory hogs, members of Congress who are Democrats, Republicans support conspiracy theories, et cetera, et cetera. That's all true. But Nancy Pelosi didn't have this problem. Nancy Pelosi didn't have Jamaal Bowman or Cori Bush or AOC or whatever coming forward and offering motions to vacate, even though they disagreed with her a ton about a lot of her decisions. MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I think she's an actual leader and knows how to lead her party and she's not, she wasn't installed because they ousted somebody else, their first choice, who won by what, 15 votes or something and became speaker. So I just think this is, again, just weakening the reelection for all of these folks. And it just, they have a one seat majority. Like, this is going there -- the Democrats are going to take back the House. Like, why would their constituents vote for them when this is what they're doing? It's complete chaos.

TAPPER: Do you think that this would help Democrats make an argument?

GORMAN: I think you could maybe make it in a midterm year, is a lot harder to overshadow someone like Donald Trump or Joe Biden in a presidential year. I think when it comes down to it, this will play, you know, very burn hot and quick for a little bit. But when, you know, people are going to the voting booth, this sort of drama won't play as much of a factor as abortion, immigration, economy.

TAPPER: Is that right? And there are, we should note, a whole gaggle of Marjorie Taylor Greene's colleagues on the steps. We saw them earlier. And again, just the Overton window of both parties has really shifted. Those are very conservative members of Congress, especially the Dakota guys and the congresswoman from Oklahoma, Bice. I mean, these are very conservative people. They're not coming out and saying, no, we want to pass a whole bunch of liberal agenda items. They're just saying, we want to govern and we don't have the Senate, we don't have the White House. We have -- we can only lose one member of vote in a party line vote. We have to make compromises. And that just seems, it just seems interesting to me.

HAYS: I think it's foolish of her to put her party in this position. Again, I mean, I agree with you that it might not change in a presidential year, but the presidential campaign means focusing on, what, seven states? There's 50 states. There's a lot of other districts that can be very vulnerable here that the local media will be paying attention to, and this will come back to bite them.

TAPPER: Thanks, everyone, for being here. Appreciate it.

The breaking news on Capitol Hill, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene made her move trying to kick Speaker Johnson from office. Her colleagues caught off guard by the decision to do this today. Sources tell CNN the vote was not in favor of what Marjorie Greene is attempting to do. In fact, it was an embarrassing defeat by her. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: And we're back with our breaking news. And a resounding defeat for Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia just minutes after she moved for a vote to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to kill her motion dead. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Manu, the numbers here, 359 votes to table the motion. And of the 43 to table it, only 11 Republicans voted against tabling it. That is a very, very small group.

RAJU: Yes, no question about it. And some of those did it simply for procedural reasons, not necessarily because they believe Mike Johnson needs to be ousted from the speakership. So just a bit more to dive into those numbers, Jake, you're absolutely right, 11 Republicans voted to advance this measure to try to move to an up or down vote about whether Mike Johnson should stay in the speakership, 32 Democrats also voted to advance, said seven members of -- seven members also voted present, meaning they didn't take one position or the other.

The 11 Republicans who voted against it mostly represented the hard right of the House Republican conference. Of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Thomas Massie, who led this effort, Warren Davidson, who had previously told me that he was doing this for procedural reasons, wouldn't take a position on the underlying issue.

Others as well, Victoria Spartz, someone who just won her Indiana primary. Chip Roy, who has been a critic of some of these deals that have been made, but did not vote to oust Kevin McCarthy. Two members who did vote to oust Kevin McCarthy, Andy Biggs, Eli Crane of Arizona, Andy Biggs. Both of them voted to kick out McCarthy here voting to advance this measure.

So you're seeing, Jake, mostly the members on the far right, but Johnson surviving this. And we do expect Johnson to address this also, Jake, in a matter of minutes. Jake?


TAPPER: Yes. All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much. Breaking news, very exciting. And coming up in just a few minutes, of course, we're going to have more of CNN's Erin Burnett and her exclusive interview with President Biden. She's going to show a brand new portion of that exclusive interview next in the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

And then, of course, her full interview will air on Erin Burnett OutFront tonight at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN. I'll see you back here on The Lead tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's Wolf.