Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

CNN: Pelosi Announcing Today Her Future Plans In Speech On House Floor, GOP Controlled House To Make Investigating Biden Admin A Top Priority, U.S. Running Low On Some Weapons, Ammo To Transfer To Ukraine. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 09:00   ET





HILL: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Erica Hill. Right now we are standing by for a major announcement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Leader said to detail we're told her future political plans this after Republicans officially secure the house majority by a slim margin. We're going to bring you that announcement. When it happens.

SCIUTTO: Will she keep her promise. And with Republicans now in charge of the House, Congressman Kevin McCarthy is poised to become the next speaker the Biden administration bracing for a potential onslaught of investigations. The GOP likely to probe among other things, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, border policy - policies and Hunter Biden's business dealings.

We're going to have more on all of that in just a moment. Let's begin though on what with what Republican control means for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's future plans. CNN's Melanie's Zanona is live on Capitol Hill. Pelosi keeping us all waiting for what the bottom line will be. What are you hearing?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Keeping us on our toes? That's absolutely right. But today's the day we're finally going to learn whether Nancy Pelosi is going to pass the torch or not. And look, no one actually knows what she's going to do. Our Annie Grayer reported that she actually took home two versions of her speech last night.

But there's a few ways this could play out. One, she could announce that she's leaving entirely leaving Congress leaving leadership or she can announce, she's staying entirely. But then there's this third option where she could announce that she's leaving leadership but deciding to stay as a member of Congress. So we'll have to wait and see.

She's addressing a group of her members right now behind closed doors. And she's expected to make a floor speech at some point after that. So we will be watching. But this obviously has massive implications for the Democratic Party because there is a group of ambitious young democrats who are waiting in the wings to see what she does. They want to run for leadership if she does not.

And then it's going to raise immediate questions about what Pelosi's deputies do. That's Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn. Hoyer is keeping his options open. He potentially could run for the top spot if she decides not to, but then he would likely face a challenge against Hakeem Jeffries. And then Clyburn is that he wants to stay in leadership, unclear what position he would run for. He's also keeping his options open. But just again, a big day for the Democratic Party. And it could be the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, guys.

HILL: Certainly could. As we wait for that. Republicans, we know, also plan to announce some things. They have been pretty specific in terms of the investigations they want to pursue. Maybe not as specific with the legislation. What more do we know about that?

ZANONA: Yes, Republicans, you're absolutely right. They have vowed aggressive oversight and investigations with their majority, that opening salvo is going to come later today, Jim Jordan and James Comer, two top Republicans are going to be holding a press conference outlining what they say are business dealings involving Hunter Biden, which is Joe Biden's son.

But it's not just Hunter Biden, they have promised a litany of investigations into everything from the pullout in Afghanistan, the origins of COVID-19, the problems at the border, the DOJ's investigation into former President Donald Trump and so they now have subpoena power in the new Congress.

That means they can call in witnesses, they can demand documents, they can host hearings. We are expecting an aggressive investigative front from Republicans, but there is some concern for moderates in the party about whether that's the right strategy. They say there needs to be a balance between the legislative and the investigative priorities that they have.

SCIUTTO: That's interesting, Erica, is it not subpoena power? Remember all the challenges to subpoenas in the last Congress? How will they view subpoenas in this Congress? A thought. We' see.

HILL: It will be interesting to see it's it, you know, it's an important thought and to see to see how they handle those. Melanie, stay with us. Also joining is Annie Karni Congressional Correspondent for The New York Times, as we continue to dig in here. Annie, nice to see you this morning. What we're waiting for here, CNN has learned that there were two versions of a speech that the House speaker had dropped both home with her last night.

We don't know what she's going to say. But as we wait, there is both the impact of the attack on her husband, Paul, which she told her own Anderson Cooper would impact her decision, but didn't get more specific than that. The impact, of course, of the outcome of the midterms. And then also this push which we've talked about for some time, from younger members of the caucus, and there was even that informal agreement in 2018 about passing the torch on the rules weren't rewritten. Based on all of that, is there a sense yet this morning as to which way she's leaning?

ANNIE KARNI, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, what I'm hearing is that over the past few days, she's really been reviewing her options, and I don't think that in formal 2018 agreement, where she told members of her caucus that she would leave at the end of 2022 is really one of the factors that she's weighing heavily.


I think if she had the votes she would seriously consider staying in leadership. But this third option that Melanie mentioned is one that people close to her have been kind of pitching to me that for who knows how long but if she doesn't have the votes to stay in leadership, staying on is kind of an emeritus rank and file member, could be an attractive option for her.

It would allow her more time to spend with her husband, Paul Pelosi, who she has discussed as being on the road to recovery. It would not be not look like she's reneging on a promise to San Francisco voters who two weeks ago elected her for another term. So it's something that people around her have been thinking is a possibly like elegant option for her.

If leadership doesn't look like it's panning out, if resigning because you lost the house looks like a bad sport. So it's something to be considered as we watch, because we really don't know yet.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, it is a fact of Washington that agreements promises not to run for something really aren't worth the paper they're printed on if they're printed on paper. Melanie Zanona, I want to ask when you speak to Democrats on the Hill, lawmakers as well as those aspiring for leadership, such as Hakeem Jeffries, do they believe it is good for the Democratic Party, it would be good for Nancy Pelosi to stay in terms of their electoral fortunes going forward?

ZANONA: I mean, just look at the facts here. She's one of the most prolific fundraisers for the Democratic Party. And they just had this incredibly strong midterm showing when everyone was predicting a red wave. And so I think the conventional wisdom initially was that she would absolutely step aside after the midterm election results. But because of what happened and transpired on election night, I think it's a whole new ballgame.

And there are Democrats who say she could absolutely stay if she wanted to, and that it's her call to make. But at the same time, there has been this thirst for generational change in the Democratic Party. Because remember, Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn, they're in their 80's. They've been a top of the caucus for decades. And so there is a desire for change. But some people are saying maybe we could wait two more years that Pelosi did choose to stay on.

HILL: How much how much of a factor, Annie, in that, in that decision, whether they essentially decide to pass the torch here, the senior leaders of the party at this point, how much of a factor is what we see coming in, in terms of Republican leadership?

KARNI: I think the really slim majority that the Republicans have, is a factor. You can have a very powerful minority when you have such a big minority. So as Melanie said, I think that the outcome of the election that there was not a red wave does factor into these calculations. Could you, you know, have more power and authority when you can really keep your caucus together, kind of effect with Kevin McCarthy or whoever becomes the House Speaker--

HILL: Which she's known for doing. Which Nancy Pelosi is known for doing, for getting the votes.

KARNI: That's correct. Yes. That's her, you know, probably her main skill among many is, you know, knowing how to count her votes. She's, you know, Clyburn is the whip, but Nancy Pelosi is really the whip. She's the vote counter. She knows how to keep her caucus together. And we've seen many times her keeping the, you know, the squat and moderates and having the vote she getting about she wants.

SCIUTTO: Melanie, is there any potential in this new house for bipartisan cooperation or legislation on anything?

ZANONA: I have been asking that question, Jim, of Kevin McCarthy. When I sat down with him for an interview. I asked that of many Republicans. And I - my sense is, unfortunately, I don't think there is going to be a whole lot of appetite for bipartisanship. However, they are going to be forced to work together because there's going to be funding bills, they need to fund the government, they're going to need to raise the debt ceiling.

That is a looming crisis that they're going to have to address at some point likely next year. And so there are going to be instances where a Kevin McCarthy or whoever the speaker is, is going to have to work with Democrats, is going to have to work with Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden. And so that's going to be an incredible storyline to watch because we are preparing for this divided Washington. We just reported today that everyone's preparing for gridlock and chaos and turmoil. So it's going to be a very, very long two years.

SCIUTTO: Gridlock, chaos, turmoil. I've heard those words before. Melanie Zanona, Annie Karni, thanks so much to both of you. Well, the Senate is now one step closer to passing a bipartisan bill. This is significant, bipartisan protects same sex and interracial marriage. The bill passed 62 to 37 in a procedural vote yesterday enough to break a filibuster. 12 Republicans vote voting along with all 50 Democrats.

HILL: There could be additional votes before final passage, and while the bill would not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same sex marriage, it would require that individual states recognize another state's legal marriage. [09:10:00]

Very important there. Former Vice President, Mike Pence has a message for the House committee investigating January 6. "Don't expect me to justify". Pence making those comments last night during a CNN town hall just a few months after saying he would consider appearing before the panel. The comments also come just a day after his former boss, of course, Donald Trump announced a third bid for the White House.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Congress has no right to my testimony. Because under the Constitution of the United States, as Vice President, we had two co equal branches of government. The Congress doesn't report to the White House, the White House doesn't report to the Congress.

To avoid what would be a terrible precedent, the very notion of a committee on Congress in Congress summoning a Vice President to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House, I think, would violate that separation of powers.


SCIUTTO: Writing in a book. different those. CNN'S Washington Correspondent with, Sunlen Serfaty us now. Sunlen, I wonder what more in your view Pence revealed. I know that Jake Preston, for instance, on that moment on Capitol Hill when he and his family were under threats, right, and how does he not still have anger, you know, in the simplest terms against Trump. But it was a fascinating conversation.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He didn't use the word anger here. And he talks about how the final days of the administration were, in his words, the most difficult and of his public career. He talks about the anger and the sadness, he says that he experienced when he was at the Capitol on January 6, but also in the lead up to that day, he talks about this extent of the pressure campaign from Trump and Trump allies on him to not certify the results of the election.

And he says that he supported the Trump campaigns legal challenges after the 2020 election, but says that he urged the President to accept the results when those challenges were over. But he said ultimately, the President was listening to different voices.


PENCE: There was never evidence of widespread fraud. I don't believe fraud changed the outcome of the election. But the President in the campaign had every right to have those examined in court. But I told the President that once those legal challenges played out, he said simply accept the outcome of the election and move on. But he was hearing different voices. And frankly, there were - there were some legal experts that that were allowed on the White House grounds that this should have never been left through the gate.


SERFATY: Now, as far as the big question that is facing the former Vice President, of course, will he run for president, lodge a presidential bid, he was very coy. He essentially said stay tuned here and repeated that he believes there's time. It now is the time for new leadership. And he says I think we'll have better choices than my former running mate.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see if he's one of those choices. Someone's fighting. Thanks so much. Coming up next. This is first on CNN, new reporting about the U.S. weapons and ammunition that have been so critical to helping Ukrainian military push back the Russians. What I'm hearing from U.S. officials about this is crucial their supplies now running low.

HILL: Plus, police in Idaho now say they can't rule out a threat to the community after four college students were brutally killed. We'll speak live with the President and Vice President of the Student Union, who also knew some of those victims. And just ahead, Twitter employees have only a few hours left to decide just how hardcore they are. Can Elon Musk really ask them to make that choice? And also can he afford to lose any more employees?



SCIUTTO: First on CNN, and this is new reporting. The U.S. is now running low on high end weapons systems and ammunition available to. Three U.S. officials with knowledge tell me and my colleagues, Jeremy Herb and Katie Bo Lillis. One of the officials said the stockpiles of certain systems are quote "dwindling". After nearly nine months of sending supplies to keep during a high intensity war there.

Among the weapons systems where there's particular concern 155- millimeter artillery shells and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, both of which have had a significant role in Ukraine success on the battlefield. Some sources also raising concerns about weapons systems, including surface to surface missiles, and the portable Javelin anti tank missiles.

Although the U.S. industry - industrial base attempting to ramp up production, the question now, will the shortages impact the Ukrainian war effort? Let's bring in CNN International Editor - Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. He's in Kyiv as well as CNN White House Reporter Natasha Bertrand here with me, Nic, I do want to begin with you first.

You and I have heard from Ukrainian officials for months now their urgency with a whole host of weapon systems. They have often complained they don't come quickly enough or in great enough volume. Now we hear concerns about shortages in the U.S. and is that causing concern there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is causing concern. It's causing concern because Ukrainians are determined to keep advancing and taking territory and particularly in the south around her son, they feel that they've got the Russians on the move and on the backfoot. And it's time to take advantage and taking advantage there as we were hearing when we were down there over the past few days is a lot of outgoing artillery on the Russian positions.

So it's a necessary part of their maneuvers to move - maneuver forward. We hear from troops who will tell us look, we don't have the ammunition we want, we'd like to be able to fire more rounds. But we know that the government is using the rounds elsewhere on the front.

So you get a level of understanding from the troops that they don't get what they want, because there isn't enough to go round and that it's being directed where the government needs it. But the government's also aware of it. We have listened to the words of Joint Chiefs of Staff General, Mark Milley saying that this is perhaps while the Ukrainians have some success on the battlefield, a good time perhaps to go for negotiations.


And that sort of thing frankly worries them because they don't want to negotiate right now. They want the Russians gone before they negotiate if the Russians were to, to put their hands up and say, yes, we're leaving the country, I'm sure the Ukrainians would rush to the table. But right now, their rush is really to get those much-needed weapons supplies. So their troops in the frontline, particularly the artillery, I think they've been very grateful. And it's made a difference.

The armored vehicles that have come with the recent weapons shipments, we've seen those step up over the last couple of months, because those give them the ability to maneuver troops forward more quickly and with greater safety. But yes, from a Ukrainian perspective, this war is not done. The pace of supply is something that's always been an issue, and doubly so now.

SCIUTTO: They fell they have the momentum where they don't want to hold back. Natasha, you have new reporting. Looking back at it 48 hours ago, very nervous. So during this time when there were suspicions it was a Russian missile. Turns out it's a Ukrainian missile, but suspicions about how the U.S. scrambled to figure out exactly who was behind it. What do we know?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. And just to underscore how urgent this was. President Biden who was in Bali at the time for the G20. Summit, he was woken up in the middle of the night with this urgent news that a missile apparently had struck Poland and killed two people.

Now, of course, it became clear pretty early on, as the morning wore on there, as he spoke to his Polish counterparts, as intelligence came in that the U.S. was looking at, that this was likely an accident that it was not a deliberate attack on Poland, and that it was likely a Ukrainian anti air defense missile.

But at the same time, there was kind of a problem because as U.S. officials were increasingly of the opinion that this was not a Russian missile, that it was not a purposeful attack. At the same time, the Ukrainians had come out pretty early and said that this appears to be a Russian strike on polar soil.

So there was kind of a scramble there as well to kind of alert the Ukrainians to the fact that the Americans, and the Poles at that point did not believe this was a Russian missile, and that everyone should kind of just wait and see what the investigation led to. And so Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, he did call President Zelenskyy's office at that time, and tell them look, it's probably better if you don't comment at this point, because Zelenskyy had already come out and said, "This is a deliberate Russian attack."

So as all this was playing out, of course, the U.S. was in very close touch with their Polish counterparts. They were, you know, moving forward with this investigation. The Poles had analyzed at that point, the site that debris, it showed that it was an ES 300 missile, which was supposedly Ukrainian. And at this point, what we're hearing is Zelenskyy. You know, he said yesterday during this press conference, "we do not believe that this was a Ukrainian missile. I'm talking to the military."

He appeared to soften his position last night saying we just want all the facts we want to be part of this investigation, Jim.

SCIUTTO: It appears the U.S. had counter indicators early on but - they Ukrainians went forward. Natasha Bertrand, thanks so much, Nic Robertson, as well.

HILL: Still ahead here, no suspect, no weapon found, no motive at this point in the gruesome killings of four University of Idaho students. Now officials are warning while they initially said there was no threat, there could now be a threat to the community. Our next two guests lead the university student government and knew two of the victims.



HILL: Investigators now say they don't have a suspect right now, no motive in the brutal killings of four University of Idaho students earlier this week. And after initially saying they believe the public was not at risk because this was a targeted killing. Well, here's what police say now.


CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE: We do not have a suspect at this time. And that individual is still out there. We cannot say that there's no threat to the community. And as we've stated, please stay vigilant reporting suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why has there been such limited information over the past couple days? I mean, we're almost four days into this.

FRY: The reality is I probably should have been standing here a day or so ago, but I'm here now.


HILL: We're also learning two other roommates were home at the time of the killings. According to officials, the door was open when officers arrived. They also said there was no damage inside. They arrived there after receiving a 911 call that came in just before noon.

The FBI and Idaho State Police are now helping with that investigation as well. Joining us this morning University of Idaho Student Body President, Tanner McClain, knew one of the victim, Madison Fitzgerald, who was close to two of the victims as well. She's a student body vice president.

It's good to have you both with us this morning. There's a lot happening for you both right now not only in your roles, of course in student government, but as members of this campus community. Your friends are among those who were killed. You both decided to go home. t Tanner, I'll start with you. Just how are you doing this morning?

TANNER MCLAIN, KNEW UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO VICTIMS XANA KERNODLE: Well, ever since the tragedy on Sunday, it's been it's been very, very difficult to deal with. And the four of them really touched countless students across the community. So the loss is really being felt in the Vandal community and it's been a very difficult time.

HILL: Understandably. Madison, how are you holding up and what are you hearing from other people, to about how they're doing?