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Today: Johnson Faces Speakership Test With Veto To Avert Shutdown; Today: NYC Mayor Adams To Address FBI Investigations; Supreme Court, Under Pressure, Unveils Code Of Conduct. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 09:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, one day closer to a government shutdown. It comes as soon as Friday, unless the new speaker, Mike Johnson, can get his plan through the House today. And he will need Democratic help to do it, especially now that the House Freedom Caucus, made up of conservatives, they say they are a no. CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill this morning counting the votes. Where do things stand, Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I am standing outside of the Democratic caucus meeting this morning. And behind me, Democrats are making a critical decision right now whether or not they are going to get behind this plan from Speaker Johnson to keep the government funded. Now, on the one hand, this plan was not precisely what Democrats had hoped for because it is a two-tiered, two-step proposal. Essentially, part of the government would run out of money on January 19th. The other half of the government would run out of money on February 2nd. But it does not include spending cuts.


And that had been a red line for House Democrats. I just spoke with Leader Jeffries, who represents the Democrats as the leader of their party here in the House, and he argued that he was going to have a family conversation with his caucus. They were going to make a decision together as a caucus. And he also said that, yes, it was important that this did not include spending cuts, but he didn't quite say that Democrats were prepared to back it. As you noted, there are a number of hardliners in the Republican conference who have already said they are voting against this proposal.

That means that Johnson is going to need a large number of Democrats to get it passed out of the House when it comes to the floor later today. Again, there's not an appetite to shutdown the government. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. But there is sort of this feeling among Democrats that this isn't exactly what they had hoped for. John?

BERMAN: Lauren, is it possible more Democrats vote for this plan from the Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson than Republicans do?

FOX: Well, that's one of the things that Johnson might have to be a little bit nervous or careful about, because the reality is that Democrats may support this en masse. And you could have a position where Johnson loses more Republicans. And I think that is a calculation that doesn't likely put Johnson's job in jeopardy. But obviously, it is sort of a point on the board, right, as one of the very first speakers that he is coming into this, a new job, a newly minted speaker, and yet he finds himself in the exact same position that Kevin McCarthy found himself in, in fact, doing a very similar thing that got Kevin McCarthy ousted from the job. John?

BERMAN: Yes, I am old enough to remember when Kevin McCarthy was speaker and lost his job over something not too dissimilar to this. Lauren Fox, great to see you. Keep us posted. Thank you. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, joining us right now, CNN political commentator and Spectrum News political anchor Errol Louis. Great to see you. OK, so here we go again, right? I mean, this new House speaker, Mike Johnson, he's heard that he doesn't have the Republican votes yet. He is full steam ahead. And what if he has more Democratic support than he does Republican support? Why is he feeling so emboldened? Or is he simply looking at the calendar and saying, we got to get this done?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, he's got a couple of things that are going on. One is that he's still in a bit of a honeymoon period. The reality is if you go back to the vote that actually made him the speaker. There were of people, including some of the hardliners, who recognized that there was a lot of damage being done by simply their ability or inability to govern, that it was going to hurt some of them in their reelection bids, that it was going to cause a lot of pain and anguish.

The last time there was a government shutdown was like 800,000 federal employees who had to either be furloughed or go without any certain pay date. And that hurts people all across the spectrum. And so I think there was an agreement to kind of just move it forward, kind of look the other way. Some of the problems with McCarthy were actually personal. And so they tried to settle on this compromise. And now the question is whether they're going to sort of go back and put us right back where we're again without any leadership in the Congress.

WHITFIELD: So what do you mean this kind of agreement? Because there were some Republicans who started to say, we're not even going to allow this to happen, to go to the House floor. But then they decided, all right, we're going to go ahead and let this happen after all. Does this speak to, I guess, them being those hardliners who are willing to acquiesce, or does it speak to those who are advising the new speaker?

LOUIS: I think it's really more the hardliners. I mean, the ball is in their court, and it has been. But they were drawing, if you remember, caustic remarks, you know, where they were being referred to in some cases as charlatans and as, you know, as a group that was going to blow up the whole Republican majority and prevent them from governing. And again, sort of draw the kind of negative condemnation on the party as a whole that would hurt all of their reelection chances. That I think is going to be the primary driver of whatever happens next. If the moderates, those who are in districts that Joe Biden won, make their voices heard more loudly and say, look, we're going to lose the entire majority if the 15 of us who are in pro-Biden districts all get wiped out next year because of what you guys are doing, what was the point of the entire exercise?

WHITFIELD: Speaker Johnson is a novice, but what are we going to learn from this, particularly if there is, you know, an agreement to this two-tiered proposal? We already hear from Senate leadership on both sides, Dems and Republicans, that they're going to support this. What will this say about his leadership this point forward?

LOUIS: Well, if he can manage to get through this, then there's a possibility that even with a slim majority, a bunch of hardliners and a chessboard that frankly, McCarthy couldn't sort of really play his way through. It's possible he may have the personal political skills to see us through. Now, I wouldn't necessarily bet on that because we're, you know, we've got the shutdown and, you know, it's time to start the clock and we'll see if we can get through it.


But, you know, and look, Fredricka, we also have to get to the larger issues that led us here. The people who are saying we have to reduce spending at all costs seem unaware or unwilling to debate. Why do we have such a large deficit? We spent a lot of money in the last few years on things like supporting our allies in Ukraine. We have this new question about what's going to happen with Israel.

We had to get out of the pandemic. We wanted to sort of start a transition to renewable energy.

WHITFIELD: It has been an expensive few years.

LOUIS: It has been very expensive.


LOUIS: And we do have to debate and we do have to sort of make priorities. But you can't do it like this.


LOUIS: I mean that's sort of the larger question. If Speaker Johnson can get us into those kind of substantive conversations, he'll be very successful.

WHITFIELD: All right. Why does it all sort of look the same and at the same time look a little different? All right, Errol Louis, good to see you. Thank you so much. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up for us, new reporting on the FBI investigation of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. People around him and his campaign and Adams may be speaking to reporters soon.

The Supreme Court has a new code of conduct following the swirl of controversies regarding the ethical obligations of the justices themselves. Why people still say this new code doesn't go far enough.



BOLDUAN: So this morning, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing even more questions after it was revealed he is part of a sweeping FBI investigation. And today, he may answer some of those questions surrounding his campaign cash and possible foreign influence when he meets with reporters today. CNN's Gloria Pazmino is at city hall with much more on this. Gloria, when asked questions about this in recent days, the mayor has continued to push to this weekly meeting with reporters, saying that's when he's going to take questions. Is he going to answer? Is he going to actually answer questions while he's under FBI investigation? What are you hearing could happen?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we're certainly going to try and get the mayor to answer some questions, but I think he is definitely in a difficult spot. Since we last heard from the mayor, he has gotten a lawyer, and we have learned that he is under the investigation, or at least part of what the FBI is looking into, some of his contacts, his fundraisers, his donors, his campaign.

So, so far, what I've heard from sources inside city hall and those who are close to the mayor is that today we will expect to hear something similar from what we have been hearing in the past several days, I've done nothing wrong. I have nothing to hide. We will cooperate with the investigation, but this is continuing to develop and getting closer and closer to the mayor.

We know that the mayor's electronics were seized by the FBI last week. They presented him with a warrant in order to confiscate those electronic devices. And we know that the FBI is looking into the campaign and whether the campaign funneled donations from foreign nationals into their coffers. So the mayor has a lot to answer here. And the question really is, what did he know, when did he know it, and what did he do about it?

And we are expecting to hear questions about what could possibly be on those electronic devices. The key part of all of this is that now you have the mayor facing off with reporters and probably lawyers who would probably want him to keep the information to a minimum, because if this is going to go directly to him, all of this could be used as part of that investigation.

So he has to be very careful about what he says in the next several days and hopefully we will learn more details today. But certainly a lot of questions for the mayor and waiting to see just how much more this investigation continues to unfold. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Definitely going to face some important and tough questions in the next couple hours when he meets with reporters. And Gloria is there for us. Gloria, thank you so much. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, holding the highest court to the highest standard. What it means for the U.S. Supreme Court adopting a new code of conduct.


And CNN's Nic Robertson travels with IDF troops inside the combat zone in Gaza. A closer look at what we captured.


WHITFIELD: This morning, bowing to pressure over ethics concerns, especially from Democrats in Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court says it has a new ethics code. The court saying this will help maintain and observe high standards of conduct. There's been a string of reports alleging some of the justices have been skirting ethics regulations, sparking questions about undisclosed trips and other perks for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito and Justice Sonia Sotomayor's reported use of court staff to coordinate book sales. What is not clear is how this new code of conduct will be enforced and who will enforce it. CNN's Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue is with us now. So what are some of the key things that we're seeing in this new code of conduct?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. You're absolutely right. The Supreme Court was under pressure because these Democrats in Congress, they were threatening to force legislation on the court. They were threatening to send subpoenas to key conservative players that were linked to those lavish trips and gifts. So here's what the Supreme Court did. It said, we are going to take most of those rules that apply to lower court judges. They now apply to us.

So in this new code of conduct, for instance, there's broad language that the justices have to avoid the appearance of impropriety. They have to make an effort to at least know the financial interests of members of their households, like their spouses, for instance. They shouldn't speak at fundraisers. But in the code, the justices also said, look, in some ways, the Supreme Court is different from lower courts.

For instance, in the area of recusal, if we have to step away from a case, then there's nobody to take our place. That's different from the lower courts. So our recusal rules will be more narrow. But here's the critical point. There's no enforcement mechanism in this new code of conduct. So if somebody say, like Justice Elena Kagan, were to violate any of this, what happens? Who holds her accountable?

And that was the issue that many critics seized on yesterday and still today about the fact that there's no enforcement mechanism. Take a listen right now to Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Democrat. Here's what he had to say about it.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: All of these are important steps, but they fall short of what we could and should expect when a Supreme Court issues a code of conduct. The Court's new code of conduct does not appear to contain any meaningful enforcement mechanism to hold justices accountable for any violations of code. It also leaves a wide range of decisions up to the discretion of individual justices, including decisions on recusal from sitting on cases.



DE VOGUE: So there he's basically, you know, maybe this isn't enough. But it's worth noting all nine justices did sign off on this. And so that means that maybe that's why there wasn't enforcement mechanism. They wanted to get something out that was unanimous. But the big question going forward here, is this going to be enough for the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court has said, look, you wanted a code of conduct. Here's a code of conduct for the first time in history. Now let us go back to doing our job. That's the message.

WHITFIELD: All right. It's the honor system on a whole new level. Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much in Washington.

DE VOGUE: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right, John?

BERMAN: All right, we're just getting word of an audio recording of Israel offering incubators to one hospital in Gaza. This as CNN goes inside a different hospital on the front line, sees a weapons cache, possible evidence of hostages and more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Fire zone here. You can hear the small arms fire. The IDF say they're still clearing this area out. We're getting down here. Just taking a bit of cover because they say we're still taking fire. But over here we were able to smell what smelled like rotting flesh, bodies perhaps.