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McCarthy Fighting to Lead House; Republicans Close to Clinching House; Trump to Announce 2024 Bid; UVA Mourns Death of Three Football Players; Trump Defies Subpoena; Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) is Interviewed about Twitter. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 09:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


Right now on capitol Hill Republicans on the brink of controlling the House. Members preparing to meet to vote on their new leader, potentially the next House speaker. At this moment the GOP needs just three House wins. They're currently leading in six contests. Current GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's bid for potential House speaker though now facing a critical test from his far-right flank. Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs confirming he will challenge McCarthy to lead the Republican conference.

SCIUTTO: It is important to note, neither party has yest achieved the needed 218 seats to control the lower chamber, but Democrats did notch another critical win overnight in Arizona at the state house level where CNN projected Democratic Katie Hobbs will beat Republican Kari Lake in Arizona's governor race, this by less than 20,000 votes. Lake, a prominent election denier, endorsed by Trump, has not yet conceded. Instead, she tweeted overnight, quote, Arizonans knows BS when they see it. No proof offered.

It comes as one of her main endorsers, of course, the former president, is set to launch his third White House bid today.

Let's been with House Republicans. The next step here, closed-door meetings today to begin the decision as to who will lead the party.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins us now.

Melanie, when you look at this, you have some prominent folks now backing McCarthy, including the former president. It seems, Marjorie Taylor Greene. I mean is he gathering the votes he needs to get the speaker's gavel?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jim, we're going to know a lot more about just how short he is on the potential 218 votes that he'll need in January after today. And we're also going to know how much deal making he's going to have to do and that is because during the closed-door meeting today, he is going to become the speaker nominee for the Republican Party. He only needs a simple majority to do that. We are expecting that to happen. So the real test is going to come in January. That's when he needs a majority of the entire House.

And as we first reported on CNN, Congressman Andy Biggs is planning to challenge him during that closed door leadership election today. Now, he's not a serious changer. It is not a real candidate. He's essentially just representing the anti-McCarthy vote. But there could be a significant number of Republicans in that camp.

Take a listen to what Congressman Bob Good told us yesterday.


REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): The country needs transformational change. And that's going to start with changing how Congress operate, how the Republican Party operates. Andy Biggs would be an outstanding speaker. And he would be among my two or three choices for speaker. He's a real candidate and a real choices for those who would be supporting him. That said, I don't think anyone has 218 votes.


ZANONA: We should point out that it is not unprecedented to have speakers who lose votes or face opposition during these initial party votes. But it is going to be an uphill battle for Kevin McCarthy demanding on what the margins are and assuming, of course, that Republicans win the majority. I mean he is very motivated to become speaker. He tried to rally the troops yesterday, called for unity, got a standing ovation. But he is going to likely have to cut some very serious deals in order to win over enough Republicans to get the speaker's gavel. So, it is going to be a long, hard few months for Kevin McCarthy.


SCIUTTO: Melanie Zanona, on The Hill, thanks so much.

ZANONA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Right now, Republicans are inching closer to winning what will be a narrow majority in the House, but a majority nonetheless.

Let's bring in CNN anchor John Berman. He's at the magic wall.

John, you know, a lot of these close races have been tipping red in the last couple of days. So, where do we see this stand and are we going to see a power shift as soon as today?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Republicans have it within sight at this point, Jim. They control 215 seats. We've called 215 races for them, 204 for the Democrats. The Republicans only need three more seats to control the House of Representatives. That would give them 218. The Democrats would need to win 14. And, at this point, there are only 16 uncalled races. You can see Republicans lead in six. They only need three. Democrats lead in ten, but they need to win 14. And it's pretty easy to see on this map where Republicans could pick up those three seats that they need. I'll just write three up here to remind us of what we're looking at.

In California, where a lot of these seats are, by the way.


You think the blue state of California, the Republicans could, in fact, cross that threshold with just California races. You have California's Third Congressional District. This is actually a Republican leaning district, R plus one. And the Republican there is ahead by 9,000 votes. If you go down to the southern part of the state, California's 41st Congressional District, long-time incumbent Ken Calvert, he served for decades in the House of Representatives. He holds a 5,000-vote lead with 64 percent at this point. This, too, is a Republican leaning district. So, just win those two Republican leaning districts and they're right on the cusp, Jim.

And then there are also seats, I'll hone in right now, you have, for instance, California's 45th Congressional District. You have incumbent Michelle Steele, who is leading Jay Chen. This is a Democratic-leaning district, but the turnout tends to favor Republicans. She's ahead by 13,000 votes. These three races would give the Republicans control.

And then you pull out and we go to Colorado. This race has received a lot of attention. This is Lauren Boebert, Colorado's third. She's ahead by 1,100 votes, 99 percent in. All that's left here is the overseas military and absentee ballots. Could that be enough for the Democrat to take the lead? Maybe. But most Democrats and Republicans you talk to around the country doubt it.

So, right there, that would give Republicans four of the seats that they need and control of the House of Representatives, Jim.

And, you know, it's interesting, I mentioned blue California and the fact that California could be the state to put Republicans over the top. If you look two years ago, these districts are drawn, 45 of them were Biden districts, seven were Trump districts. Now you could have 41 in Democratic hands, 11 in Republican hands. That's a net minus of four seats there. That might be the difference in control for the Democrats, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Notable.

HILL: Could be. Appreciate it, Berman. Thank you.

Turning back now to the governor's race in Arizona. Kari Lake now just the latest Trump-backed candidate to lose in these latest elections. In spite of that, though, and in spite of some advice from those in his inner circle that he should wait, former President Trump forging ahead with primetime announcement of his third run for the White House.

SCIUTTO: Trump expected to declare his candidacy at his Mar-a-Lago resort tonight.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is in West Palm Beach for that event.

Kristen, this, of course, comes the same day the former vice president, Mike Pence, releases his book. Doesn't seem like a coincidence.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim and Erica, well, no, it certainly doesn't, but it does give you somewhat of a preview as to what a Trump 2024 campaign might look like, which is filled with settling old scores and personal attacks. In addition to launching this campaign on the same day that the former vice president is launching his book, something that has been on the calendar for months, Trump has already started going after Republican heavy weights and likely 2024 contenders. We've heard him slamming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. This just gives you an idea. And one thing to note is that the more Republicans who turn on him, the likely - likely that the personal attacks will continue because, as we've heard from aides and advisers, Trump is comparing this to 2015, saying that he's entering the race as the underdog here.

But let's talk quickly about the former vice president and the former president because there's clearly no love lost between these two men. And in this interview with former Vice President Pence, he really used his most stark terms when talking about former President Trump. He said that his rhetoric actually caused him and his family to be put into danger. We had not heard this before.

But this is not that surprising, particularly given that these two men appear to be on a collision course heading into 2024.

I want you to take a listen to what Pence said when asked about whether or not he'd run.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Do you believe that Donald Trump shoulder ever be president again?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: David, I think that's up to the American people. But I think we'll have better choices in the future.

For me and my family, we -- we'll be reflecting about what our role is in that.

MUIR: Will you run for president in 2024?

PENCE: Well, we're giving it consideration in our house. Prayerful consideration.


HOLMES: One thing to keep in mind here though is that many of the aides and advisers to Pence that I've talked to have said that if he does run, his entire platform will be this idea of Trump policies without the baggage, which means that Pence is going to have a very fine line to walk because he's going to want to get that Trump base, those Trump supporters. So, how can he do that if he's slamming the former president? And it will be noted that in the book, over and over again we did hear Pence refer to Trump as his friend. Clearly, they're trying to thread that needle.

HILL: Trying to thread that needle. Interesting if the former president would say the same thing about the former vice president.


HILL: Kristen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's bring in now CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp.

S.E., good to see you this morning. Good morning.



HILL: So, if we -- if we pick up where Kristen left off there, the fact that we are waiting on this - this announcement tonight. I wonder, could we potentially be looking at, in your view, a real Republican primary heading in 2024?

CUPP: It's possible. I think in the immediate, Trump's announcement is going to be met by members of the Republican Party and leadership with some private frustration and adgeda, but I think you'll very quickly see that turn into public support. The party just isn't -- for all of its reckoning with Trump's repeated losses, the party just isn't ready to let him go. And it's not - it's not just letting Trump go. They would have to be willing to let his voters go. Not all of them. You know, keep the GOP voters that are there for the issues, but they'd have to be willing to let like QAnon voters go, and Proud Boys, and white nationalists. There's this - there's this wing of the party that's fringy that Republicans let in because they wanted their votes.

If Republicans don't decide to let those voters go, I don't think they believe they can win without them. So, I don't think - I don't think Trump will be on the outs with the party for very long. And then it's only a matter of Republicans who are considering running deciding, I better wait, I better wait till next time.

SCIUTTO: The trouble is the math doesn't work out because they don't win with him. This is three elections in a row, arguably four, right -

CUPP: Anymore.

SCIUTTO: If you - 2018, 2020, 2019, right, the races after the 2020 election, rather the Senate race is 2021, and now this one.

CUPP: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Clearly that base doesn't win you the majorities you need to control the Senate, to get the White House.

CUPP: Right.

SCIUTTO: So, how do they reconcile that contradiction?

CUPP: Well, I don't -- clearly they're not thinking about math because the party has, since 2015, been one of - of division and not multiplication and addition. And the streets are littered with Republican casualties from Jeff Flake to Liz Cheney to Will Herd, you know, folks who realize what happened when they went against Trump. And the party decided to push out good conservatives like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. So, they're not trying to grow, but they haven't put in the work to reach out to moderate Republicans and moderates and right of center voters. So, they have to, I think in their minds, double and triple down on the very condensed base that they've been courting over the past four or five years instead of trying to grow it.

HILL: And to that point, S.E., who then wins out? Let's say - let's say the GOP does take control of the House. You have this very public split that we're seeing now in the party. There's more division for you right there. What are the chances they actually get something done that they could run on moving into 2024?

CUPP: Yes, I mean, the split I feel is mostly over personality. You know, I actually think the party's pretty united about where it wants to go. And that, you know, whether it's Ron DeSantis winning Florida and saying, you know, wokism lost, it's clear, you know, they might have used inflation and the economy and crime to get elected, but they almost immediately, right, want to go back to the culture wars.

And I think that's a uniting principle for the party. And so the split, you know, in the House between like Kevin McCarthy and the caucus, that will play out. But I think they're real clear about where they want to go. And I think, as 2024 gets closer, it will be more culture wars, wokism, owning the libs through primaries, right, which is what they did in the midterms, and then probably a shift in the general back toward pocketbook issues like inflation and the economy and crime. I think - I think the midterms were a blueprint of what we're going to see for 2024.

SCIUTTO: Notable. They've already decided where they want to go.

S.E. Cupp, thanks so much.

CUPP: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: A quick reminder, former Vice President Mike Pence will join our colleague, Jake Tapper, for a live CNN town hall tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern Time, right here on CNN.

HILL: Right now, air raid sirens sounding across Ukraine as a new barrage of Russian missiles is expected. Explosions already heard in Kyiv. We're going to take you there, live.

SCIUTTO: Also ahead, a sitting U.S. senator warns Elon Musk that Congress may have to step in to fix Twitter, as well as Musk's other companies. I'm going to speak with Democratic Senator Ed Markey about how lawmakers might do that.

Plus, a massive vigil at the University of Virginia to honor victims of a deadly shooting on campus there. The suspect now in custody.


Motives remain a mystery. What we're learning now about his past.


SCIUTTO: This morning, the governor of Virginia has ordered flags to fly at half-staff across the state, this in honor of the three University of Virginia football players, there they are, killed in a mass shooting. Gunned down, police say, by a former football player and one of their classmates. Classes are canceled again today as the school mourns the loss.

HILL: Last night, thousands attended a candlelight vigil on campus for Lavel Davis, D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler. Two other students were also wounded in that shooting. The university tweeting out, there are no words to describe this tremendous loss to our UVA football family.

CNN's Joe Johns is in Charlottesville, Virginia, for us this morning.

So, Joe, I know we've also learned campus officials did have prior contact with the suspect over a gun. What more do we know about that?


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the university has a police department. The police department has a threat assessment team. And we are told that the suspect, 22-year-old Chris Jones, was on the radar of the threat assessment team even before this shooting occurred. They had investigated him for some type of a hazing incident. And they also heard rumors that he had a firearm, that he had a gun, though no one had seen the gun.

Then they found out that he had gotten involved in the criminal justice system for allegedly possessing a firearm. They went to him and asked him about that and he refused to participate in the investigation, so they initiated disciplinary proceedings. That's all attributable to the university. So, that's where we stood when the shooting occurred.

Now, CNN affiliate WTVR did catch up with the father of the suspect, and he both apologized for his son's alleged behavior and also talked a little bit about what he saw as his son's state of mind.



CHRIS JONES SR., SUSPECT'S FATHER: He was real paranoid when I - when I talked to him about something. He wouldn't tell me everything. He said, some people was picking on him or whatever. He didn't know how to handle it. I just told him, you know, just go to school. Don't pay them no mind. Do what you got to do. Come on, you only have one more year.

What happened? Why did it have to get this far? He could have called me.


JOHNS: So, the suspect now, Chris Jones, facing three counts of second degree murder. He's also facing charges of commission of a felony with a firearm. We are expecting a video hearing coming up later today.

Back to you.


HILL: Joe Johns with the latest for us there in Charlottesville.

Joe, thank you.

The House January 6th committee is weighing what to do next after former President Trump defied its subpoena for him to testify.

SCIUTTO: In a statement the panel's chairman, Bennie Thompson, said that Trump is hiding from the select committee's investigation.

CNN political correspondent Sara Murray here with us.

Of course, Sara, we've got an announcement coming tonight of another campaign for office. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board references this today saying that Trump imagines that that might, well, undermine any indictments, say, from the DOJ or elsewhere. So, where does this select committee's actions go from here?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean I think Trump might imagine that a lot of this stuff will go away. The reality is, I think the lawyers around him know better. But it is a little different for the select committee because their work ends in January. So effectively by filing this lawsuit, Trump has delayed this in a way where it is just extremely unlikely that the committee is going to be able to get anything from him, if they are going to be able to resolve it.

You know, they said in their statement yesterday that they're going to evaluate the next steps. But, frankly, their next steps are pretty limited. I mean even if they try to move forward with some kid of civil or criminal contempt procedure, that's still going to take a while to make its way through the courts. And we do know from Trump's lawsuit that there was some back and forth with the committee, that Trump's lawyer said, you know, would you consider putting some questions in writing, we'll consider having the former president answer those. You know, they said they looked for two categories of documents the committee was asking for and didn't find anything responsive. So, all of that matters when you're getting into these kind of court proceedings to have some kind of record that at least Trump's team engaged. That's what makes it different from someone like Steve Bannon, who didn't file a lawsuit, didn't make an attempt to hand over really anything.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's such a great point. I mean one effect of the House majority switching, right, is the end of the select committee's work here.

MURRAY: Right.

SCIUTTO: If and when that does happen.

MURRAY: Right.

SCIUTTO: Sara Murray, thanks very much.


HILL: Well, today, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is set to testify in front of the Georgia grand jury investigating former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Kemp, who, of course, just won re-election in the midterms, is expected to face questions about a phone call in which Trump allegedly asked him to convince state legislatures to overturn the 2020 results. The investigation stems from a 2021 phone call in which Trump asked the Georgia secretary of state to find non-existent votes that would have helped him win Georgia.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, Democratic Senator Ed Markey takes on Elon Musk, telling him to, quote, fix his companies or Congress will. The senator joins us live. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: This morning, Twitter's $8 charge for its blue check verification process is on pause after a series of missteps, including verifying a fake account linked to Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. In a back and forth on Twitter, the senator said, in part, fix your companies or Congress will.

Senator Ed Markey joins me now to discuss.

Senator, thanks for taking the time this morning.

SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D-MA): Glad to be with you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So, first of all, on this - this fake account, your office gave permission to a - to a "Washington Post" reporter to set up a fake account to kind of test the system as it were. I mean, how easy was it to fool the verification process?

MARKEY: Well, all you had to do is pay $8. That was the totality of it. There obviously was no background check.