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Following the SC Primary, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel Offers to Resign; Trump's Group Considering Candidates to Succeed McDaniel as RNC Leader; Senate Republicans on Pace for Border and Foreign Aid Agreement; Surprise Loss to House GOP, Move to Impeach DHS Secretary Failed; GOP-Led Independent Israel Assistance Plan Fails to Clear the House; Stabbing of 23-Year-Old Palestinian-American Being Investigated by Austin PD's Hate Crimes Review Committee; Suspect of Stabbing Palestinian-American Should Face Hate Crime Charges, According to Muslim Advocacy Group. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired February 07, 2024 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A major shakeup on the horizon for the Republican National Committee. Ronna McDaniel has offered to step down as chair after the South Carolina primary. This comes after Donald Trump called out the RNC for having its worst fundraising year in a decade and hinted at changes to come.
CNN's Alayna Treene is in Washington with the latest on this. Why and why now, Alayna?
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, there's a couple reasons, John. But first of all, I just want to point out that Ronna McDaniel was already facing pressures on a lot of fronts, not just from Donald Trump. There's a lot of people, conservatives especially, who have been unhappy with her leadership at the RNC. But the -- Trump, no doubt, was really the driving factor behind this, and again, there's a couple reasons for that.
One is, Donald Trump still harbors a lot of resentment toward the RNC, but McDaniel specifically for their handling of the 2020 election. Trump felt like they should have had more attorneys in place, more infrastructure to push back and challenge the election results, and that's something I hear time and time again in my conversations with Trump's advisers.
But a lot of this really came to a head last week when they saw that the RNC had reported one of their worst fundraising years in over a decade. They brought in just $8 million at the end -- or they had $8 million on hand at the end of last year. Again, something that was really alarming to Donald Trump's team. And that's really when they started to make plans of wanting to send a firm message to the RNC.
And you saw Donald Trump both privately and publicly railing against the RNC, criticizing Ronna McDaniel in public interviews. And he also met with her on Monday at Mar-a-Lago for a meeting, we're told, that lasted a little over two hours. They said it was cordial, but, you know, since then she has gone to Donald Trump and offered her resignation.
And so, it's really striking that this is coming, and it does show that even Donald Trump, though he doesn't have the personal ability to oust the chair, that really comes up to its 168 members, his power and the pressure over the party to have new leadership is clearly the driving force here.
BERMAN: Yes. Well, we just previewed it right there. Who are some of the options to replace Ronna McDaniel with?
TREENE: So, there's a couple names that I've been hearing in my conversations with Trump's team that they have been floating for a short while now. One is the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, Michael Whatley. He is kind of considered the lead contender in this potential race for who Donald Trump wants to take over. They're also looking at South Carolina Republican Party Chairman, Drew McKissick, as well as Florida State Senator, Joe Gruters.
Now, just to discuss Whatley and why they really like him, the big reason that we're told is because he's been a cheap or -- excuse me, a chief champion of Donald Trump's election fraud claims from 2020, and Donald Trump really wants someone who will and the charge on that. If this were to happen again, if he becomes the nominee and something happens in November in that election, he wants someone who is going to be very loyal to him, especially on that front. And after Donald Trump has had all of these concerns about how Ronna and the RNC, or how Ronna McDaniel and the RNC handled this back in 2020.
BERMAN: I spoke to Whatley just after January 6th in 2021, he refused to hold Donald Trump responsible for what happened on that day. Alayna Treene, great to see you. Thank you very much.
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: All right, John. No Mayorkas impeachment, no aid for Israel, and possibly no border deal. The latest on the legislation bought by the GOP.
And Prince William back in the public eye performing his royal duties for the first time since his wife's recent surgery. We'll be right back.
SOLOMON: Welcome back. Today, Senate Republicans are expected to sink a major bipartisan border and foreign aid package that they originally demanded and then came out against. This chaos on Capitol Hill coming just hours after two embarrassing back-to-back defeats for Republicans on the House floor. The House first failing to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and then quickly rejecting $17 billion in aid to Israel.
Let's get right to CNN's Manu Raju who joins us from Capitol Hill this morning. Manu, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer apparently seems to be moving on to Plan B now. What can you share with us?
MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY AND CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Yes, and actually Plan B used to be Plan A, but they went to the plan to move forward with an emergency aid package with Taiwan, with Israel, with Ukraine, to tie that to border security provisions. New changes at the border, immigration policies because Republicans had demanded that immigration must be part of this, then a bipartisan deal after four and a half months caught between a trio of senators, they tried to move forward with that. But then Senate Republicans and House Republicans said that they would not accept that plan just within a matter of hours of its release.
And now Chuck Schumer, after today when Republicans in the Senate are expected to block that larger package of the border bill, plans to essentially drop that border provisions and said move ahead with the emergency foreign aid instead. And Schumer is optimistic that he can get the votes he needs to advance it out of the Senate.
This all comes as finger pointing is happening among Republicans in particular. Concerns about the divisions right now within their party, making it hard and almost unable to govern. As we saw on the House floor yesterday with the collapse of an Israel aid bill and also the inability to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas despite the push for months to do just that. A lot of members also concerned about their leadership's inability to put together a plan to deal with the border that could actually become law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): I think there's been a real lack of leadership on this. We need a round two here because otherwise we're getting nothing on the border. And I think that's an unacceptable thing for our voters.
RAJU: Most GOP leadership coming out, almost immediately though. They said it was dead on arrival, almost hours without this being done --
CRENSHAW I just wish they had -- we're playing 4D chess (ph) and had a plan, but there is, you know, there's -- we're trying to work on that plan.
RAJU: How do you think they'll -- the voters in their districts will respond to their no votes?
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Well, I think -- I'm sure they'll hear from their constituents. I'm sure they're probably hearing from them already. But I think they should listen to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And that last comment coming from Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman for Georgia, critical of the three Republicans who voted against impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas just last night. The GOP leadership miscalculated the votes, thinking that there would be enough Democratic absences to get this over the finish line.
There's an expectation that they could ultimately impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, but that depends on two things. Whether the majority leader of the House, Steve Scalise, can make it back in time. He's returning -- recovering from cancer treatment. And also, the outcome of the New York special election next week, who wins that could determine whether Mayorkas becomes the second cabinet secretary to be impeached. If not, they could fail on that effort as well.
SOLOMON: Oh, interesting. The numbers may change slightly so that they, sort of, have that razor thin majority. Manu Raju live for us on Capitol Hill. Manu, thanks so much.
BERMAN: All right. With us now is Former Republican Congressman from Michigan, Fred Upton. Congressman, thank you. "Axios" described what happened last night as10 minutes of humiliation that will live in House lore. What do you think of that description?
FRED UPTON, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, it's accurate. You know, I was once a deputy whip way back in the '90s. We didn't lose any votes.
I mean, when you think -- you know, I served 36 years in the House. I don't remember a leadership ever losing a vote with such a big issue like this, that the whole country is watching. I mean, the -- probably the closest when we did prescription drugs as part of Medicare, and that vote was a couple hours long before the gavel finally came down, but the votes were there.
Dick Cheney and others, President Bush, they were able to -- the course (ph) folks to say, you know, this is a really good thing and we need to do it. And you know, the system failed yesterday for the Republican leadership. Everybody was there, with the exception of Steve Scalise. And Manu is right in the -- you know, next week, you get a special election in New York, a district that Biden won. You remember, this was the Santos district. So, that special election occurs Tuesday.
Tom Suozzi, the -- a former member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, he was actually the vice-chair. He's got a slight lead, but it's going to be a close election, let's face it. But his vote will offset that of Steve Scalise who is undergoing cancer treatment.
So, you know, this is a big egg in the face of the Republican leadership, that's for sure. By not having the vote, by proceeding and then losing, not only on that, but then right away on aid to Israel, which was a little bit of a different procedure. A suspension of the rules, which meant it had to pass, not by a majority, but a two-thirds vote. And they should have known, it was not anywhere close to having a two-thirds vote, 290 in a full House.
BERMAN: So, just looking forward, what does this tell you about House Speaker Mike Johnson's ability to lead?
UPTON: Well, you know, there's a couple of critical issues that they really have to do. You got to support our allies. So that's Israel, that's Taiwan, certainly Ukraine. I was a member of the Ukraine caucus. Border security, everyone knows that this is the top issue.
I'm a Reagan Republican, right? One of the things that he pledged when he was president was he would rather have half a loaf and win and live to another day to fight for the other half alone. We need to take steps in the right direction to close that border. That's what this bill did. That's what the Senate bill did. That's what H.R.2, a bill that passed in the House last year did.
But you would think that there's some room here to allow for a bill to move forward that's actually going to make some progress on shutting down that border. And border security is very important. It's in the minds of Republicans as well as Democrats. And there is a pathway here. If you allow regular order, if you allow amendments to this bill, I think you can actually get something that's done and combine it with aid to our allies at the end of the day. But there's --
BERMAN: If that doesn't happen --
UPTON: -- probably more --
BERMAN: -- if that doesn't happen --
UPTON: -- aid --
BERMAN: -- if that doesn't happen, if you had to bet, do you think that Mike Johnson would allow a House vote on aid to Ukraine?
UPTON: He may -- he might not want to allow it, but there are a couple of procedures that would force him to allow it. That would be a, you know, using some of the rules of the house. A vote on a previous question on a rule that would allow for an amendment. A discharge petition. There's a couple of different ways you can go around the speaker. It's tough, but the votes are there on a bipartisan basis, not only for immigration reform, but also aid to our allies.
And so, let's hope -- for me, let's hope that something can happen. I think that it can. I wouldn't close the betting doors down in Vegas quite yet.
BERMAN: Fred Upton, Former Congressman, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
UPTON: You bet.
SOLOMON: All right, John. A 23-year-old Palestinian-American stabbed after leaving a pro-Palestinian rally in Austin, Texas. Coming up, how he is doing today and why police believe the attack was motivated by bias.
SOLOMON: Welcome back. Authorities in Texas are now investigating the stabbing of a Palestinian-American as a potential hate crime. 23-year- old Zachariah Doar was stabbed after leaving a pro-Palestinian rally with his friends this weekend.
Let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher who's following the story. Dianne, I mean, first, what do we know about how he's doing? And then also tell us the latest on this investigation.
All right. Dianne, can you hear me?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Austin police are calling this a bias-motivated incident. And although it is still under investigation, they said that it's going to be sent to their hate crimes review commission, and then it will be sent to the Travis County district attorney. Only the district attorney's office can make the decision on whether or not hate crime charges would be warranted. That office told CNN that it awaits the criminal investigation to be sent a to them.
On Sunday evening, 36-year-old Bert James Baker was arrested and charged with second degree of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of 23-year-old Zachariah Doar. Now, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Doar and three Muslim-American friends were leaving a ceasefire rally in Austin when a man on a bicycle pulled a flag that bears the Palestinian kaffir, as well as free Palestine on it off the vehicle.
They say that man then began shouting the N word. Pulled one of the men out of the car when the other three got out to try and fight the suspect off, that is when Doar was stabbed.
Now, his father spoke yesterday about his son's injury. Saying that he was in agony, but also said his son had a message for those who were in charge in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIZAR DOAR, VICTIM'S FATHER: He said, Mr. President, Mr. Joe Biden, I blame you. I blame you for what happened to me. If you would have called for a ceasefire three months ago, this would have never happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GALLAGHER: Now, CNN reached out to the public defender for Baker, he had no comment. According to CARE, Doar is now out of the hospital. He was released yesterday evening. He is now at home recovering with his family in Dallas.
SOLOMON: All right. Good to know he is recovering, which is awful story. Dianne Gallagher live for us in Charlotte. Dianne, thanks so much.
BERMAN: All right. A trial date has been set in the involuntary manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin. He will face -- he will be in court starting on August 6th. He's already pleaded not guilty to the charge connected to the death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, who was shot and killed by a live round on the set of "Rust" back in 2021. In a previous interview with CNN, Baldwin denied firing that round.
U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak will speak with King Charles today by phone. This will be their first exchange since the king's cancer diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Prince William returned to royal duties for the first time since his wife's surgery. He hosted a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
SOLOMON: All right, John. The Republican Party is in a state of utter dysfunction. The push to impeach the DHS secretary, botched. Efforts to pass a standalone aid package for Israel, failed. And now, the Senate is poised to kill the bipartisan border deal. We'll discuss when we come back.