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Today, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Announcing Her Future Plans in Speech on House Floor; GOP-Controlled House to Make Investigating Biden Administration a Top Priority; Police Say No Suspects in Killings of Four Idaho Students. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill. It is the question on Capitol Hill. Will she stay or will she go? What do you know?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And there is no answer to that yet. In fact, there was a meeting that she typically attends, a weekly meeting with a number of Democratic members. She did not attend that meeting.

So, members walking out of here didn't have any idea about what ultimately she will decide to do. In fact, she just walked into the Capitol as well. She was asked questions about what she plans to say, how she plans to address it. She wouldn't answer any questions. So, everybody is in a bit of a holding pattern until she ultimately decides. But if she were to step aside, the ramifications will be significant.

She, of course, is someone who has been the central figure in her caucus for the past two decades. She is someone who has led this caucus through the majority and the minority. And if she were to step aside, it would prompt a leadership scramble to replace her in a leadership election scheduled for November 30th.

There have been some members within the Democratic caucus who have called for some change. She has faced some pressure from folks who have said that it is time for a generational change, time for new members. In fact, several years ago, she agreed that this will be the last Congress leading this -- her caucus. But she's not firmly shut the door on that issue.

But talking to a congressman, like Congressman Seth Moulton, he suggested it is time for a new chapter.


RAJU: What do you -- I mean, you, at one point, tried to oust her. What do you think about that?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, look, I think she's a historic speaker. She's a historic speaker who has accomplished an incredible amount. But I also think there are a lot of Democrats ready for a new chapter. So, we'll see what is coming.

RAJU: Do you have a dog in the fight in the next chapter?

MOULTON: Not to discuss right now. But thank you.

RAJU: Okay. Do you think it will be messy?


RAJU: So, if she were to step aside, expect a scramble, probably a leadership fight potentially. And the frontrunner likely Hakeem Jeffries, he's a New York Democrat, someone in the Democratic caucus, already in the leadership position right now. He could face a challenge, however. It is still uncertain whether Pelosi's current number two, Steny Hoyer, might do, whether he might to try to run for that position as well.

And then there are a number of other positions down the line, from minority whip to the number three, all the way down, and there are a lot of members who are looking to advance their own political careers. So, this is going to play out -- so that is why there is so much attention being paid to not just what Nancy Pelosi might decide to do in the impact there and but the impact down the line. And when I talked, asked Hakeem Jeffries about all of this just moments ago, he declined to comment, said he hadn't spoken to the speaker about her decision.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And so we wait. So we all wait. It would be a (INAUDIBLE) to see what happens there because you point out that domino effect really important.

When we look at the GOP side of things, the new House majority starting in January, Republicans, as we know, have been saying for some time, if they were to retake the House, they have big plans for investigations. We've mentioned Afghanistan, Hunter Biden. Give us a little bit more on who is prospective and what those prospective targets are, Manu.

RAJU: Yes, that is right. In fact, just this morning, two Republicans, incoming Republican Chairmen Jim Jordan and James Comer laid out their investigative plans to go after the Biden family, specifically Hunter Biden himself. This, of course, has been something that Republicans have targeted for some time. They said that they have talked to whistleblowers, they have done an investigation and they say they have uncovered evidence contending, in their view, that President Biden is a national security risk. They say that they have a whole slew of evidence that they plan to pursue over the next two years, showing just how central investigations will be to the new incoming Republican majority.

Now, the White House and also Hunter Biden's team, of course, have pushed back and said that there is nothing there. But that is an issue that will certainly play out here. And there is also going to be some pushback among some Republicans that this may not be the way they should deal with their new majority and narrow majority. One Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, told me yesterday that they should focus on the issue of inflation instead, saying that -- he's saying said that there are a lot of high priorities. And, frankly, looking into the president's son doesn't strike me as one of the big priorities we ought to be focused on. He said there are some in the base who want to fight and others who want to deal with some other issues. He wants to deal with other issues.

So, there will be debate within the Republican Party about what to pursue but no debate about this. They have subpoena power, they will in January and they plan to use it, including over the president's son in those foreign business dealings. Guys?

HILL: Buckle up, here we go. Manu, I appreciate it. Thank you.

With the GOP soon to be in control of the house, as Manu was just talking about, the White House is bracing for this potential onslaught of investigations.

SCIUTTO: CNN Reporter Priscilla Alvarez looking into some of the other potential targets. I mean, one of the interesting things is like the January 6 committee is going go, right? But there is the possibility of investigating the treatment of January 6 prisoners, right? I mean, definitely a different focus. So, tell us what the White House is bracing for.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, they're holding meetings, and they have been for months now because Republicans have signaled that they were going to make requests and that they're going to launch investigations if they held the majority, now they know that they will.

So, the White House has been meeting with Department of Homeland Security officials, lawyers from the State Department, from the Defense Department and from the Justice Department. And the point of it is to be on the same page because they know those inquiries are coming and they've had to make hires to that effect. In fact, they've brought in Special Counsel Richard Sauber, White House Counsel Spokes Ian Sams and Senior Adviser Anita Dunn.

The investigations they're expecting on, southern border, Secretary Mayorkas, Hunter Biden, withdrawal of Afghanistan, the DOJ investigations into the Trump administration, all of this is expected to be targets of Republicans. And so, internally, they have had to brace for that within this administration. A DHS official tells me that they have been holding frequent meetings to prepare, expecting border patrol to come especially under the microscope given what is happening at border and a small group of officials at the State Department have been preparing for those inquiries about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

So, again, we're hearing from Republicans on this and this week, in fact, with Secretary Mayorkas, Republican Clay Higgins told him, we expect to see you in January. So, that tells us where we're heading in the next term.

SCIUTTO: Brace yourself. Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss what is coming next, Margaret Talev, CNN Political Analyst and Managing Editor for Axios and CNN Political Director David Chalian. Good to have you both.

David, folks used to talk about divided government is what the American people want, it is good for Washington. We are in a different time, though, are we not? I mean, is there any realistic expectation that divided government here might produce bipartisan legislation, cooperation between Republican-controlled house and a Democratic- controlled Senate on, I mean, even simple things, right, like getting a budget passed and keeping the federal government open?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. I wouldn't call that expectation necessarily realistic. I mean, if indeed the government is to be funded, if indeed the debt ceiling is to be raised, by nature, with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate, that is going to have to be, in some aspect, bipartisan.

But, Jim, it is interesting, you talk about how divided government in the past may have been seen decades ago as a way to actually produce bipartisan solutions. We just came through two years of full Democratic control and it actually produced some of the more bipartisan results we've seen from Congress in quite a long time. So, perhaps these things are shaking up a little bit.

I think the big question is if indeed Kevin McCarthy does amass the 218 votes on the floor in January to become speaker, which I do not think is 100 percent assured outcome just yet, but if it is, Kevin McCarthy, does he believe -- is his posture of positioning the Republicans in the majority one that indicates he believes setting up success in '24 for the Republican presidential nominee, for expanding their majority, is something that requires some bipartisan solutions, or does he believe setting that up for success requires pure blockade of all Biden administration attempts to get anything done? I think the answer to that will sort of dictate the path forward here for the next two years.

HILL: And it is so interesting when you set it up that way, Margaret. Because one of the other conversations I have today that I've been having with people is the question of, which is in line with that, can Republicans in the House, could they both investigate and legislate at the same time. How much work can get done? Look, there are reasons legitimate investigations and then there seems to be the airing of grievances, which we're all waiting for. And so it is figuring out what that will be.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And to David's point, I was speaking yesterday with Lee Miringoff. He is the director of Marist Poll. And he said that, like for a long time, most of the electorate has said divided government is a better of way to kind of control things and try to get a consensus done, but that this midterm election showed American voters moving toward a different conclusion, the possibility that perhaps one party control would at least get things done in this era of gridlock. I think Kevin McCarthy, if in fact it is he who is the next speaker, is really in a difficult strategic position because with a super narrow majority and the way that Republicans have won this majority, which is actually ironically with maybe not moderates but Republicans in moderate districts, and plus Biden districts. He's got these two competing imperatives. He has got the far-right, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, saying, you have got to investigate Nancy Pelosi and the DOJ and Hunter Binden, all that stuff. And a new class, incoming freshmen class of Republican lawmakers who will be very difficult to get re- elected two years from now if that is the emphasis of these Republicans.

I think the other thing to watch, look, all of this, this morning, Jim Comer, Jim Jordan, talking about investigations that they want to do, it is coming in the shadow of Nancy Pelosi's expected announcement.


And the big question there is if she does say that she's going to step aside to usher in generational change, how wide will that ripple cascade, because she's not the only leader in Congress or the White House who is in their 80s now. It is an entire leadership structure in both parties, in both chambers and the Oval Office. What she signals may have repercussions beyond just the speakership.

SCIUTTO: Yes. If she were to leave, do the others, Steny Hoyers of the world, do they follow or do they try to slide into her slot?

So, we're still waiting, David Chalian. We don't know. She's apparently got two speeches going perhaps two different directions here. What is she going to say in the coming hour? And if you don't know --

CHALIAN: She hasn't confided in me.

SCIUTTO: And what impact will it have?

HILL: And you also have the Powerball numbers.

CHALIAN: If I knew, I wouldn't just sit on that and hide.

SCIUTTO: I know. You're a wise man.

CHALIAN: I don't know which way she's going to go here. We will see. But it is pretty remarkable to think about 20 years ago this week, she was elected as the leader of the Democrats in the House. She has been in that position for two decades. And as speaker, we've seen her in that iconic image at the State of the Union Address sit behind four different presidents, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden, throughout her time as speaker.

And so this is someone who has dominated the American political landscape now for quite some time. And so I do agree that what Margaret is saying about the generational change and just about how she frames this. This is not just going to be one announcement and moving on. This is going to have reverberations, deep reverberations inside the Democratic Party.


HILL: And, Margaret, too, and it's what that could potentially set up, which I think we were maybe both getting at, is if there is generational change that starts to happen with the Democratic Party, how much of a selling point is that potentially for them heading into 2024? We have learned so much from our leaders, they recognize it is time for new blood. That is something that a lot of Americans across the board have wanted to see.

TALEV: Right. And I think Americans wanted it before the leaders in charge who wanted, who doesn't want to be in charge, right, particularly when you think as a leader that you're dealing with really tricky things that nobody who is coming up behind you is necessarily prepared for in that way.

But I think you're right. I think this is not Nancy Pelosi's intent at all. She's a strong ally of Joe Biden. But I do think it is possible. You're looking at a potential 2024 race where the two frontrunners from the start for each party would be around 80.

And I think that question about generational leadership, there is a lot of upward pressure inside of the Republican Party too for Donald Trump to move out the way and let another generation who didn't have their hands on January 6 and aren't in their eighth decade take another, you know -- take the mantle.

And I think the conversation is different in the Democratic Party. There is not as much anger and frustration behind it but there is a real -- there is a bench of people in Congress and in Democratic politics who want a chance to lead.

SCIUTTO: Yes. The thing is short history of voluntary departures in Washington, if you look back. But we'll see. Margaret Talev, David Chalian, thanks so much to both of you.

Still to come this hour, the mystery deepens as police search for a suspect in just the brutal killing of four University of Idaho students. We have new video showing two of the victims late on the night that they were killed. How that might help investigators establish a timeline in all of this.

Plus, first on CNN reporting, a shortage of U.S. weapons that could make the fight against Russia a lot tougher for Ukraine as the first full winter of the war sets in.

HILL: Also first here on CNN, Senator Elizabeth Warren demanding the founder of FTX turn over a trove of records in which she is calling an appalling case of greed and deception.



SCIUTTO: Investigators say they still do not have a suspect in the gristly killings of four University of Idaho students earlier this week. We are also learning that two other roommates were at home inside that house during the attack, but that the 911 call did not come from the home until around noon that day. And now after initially saying the public was not at risk because this was described as a targeted killing, police are now saying something different after facing questions at a press conference.


REPORTER: I just wanted to clarify something you said earlier over the past couple of days. The information that we've been getting is there is not a threat to the public, and earlier I heard you say you can't be sure there is no threat. I just wanted to clarify what your stance is on that at this time.

CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE: So, we did believe -- we still believe it is a targeted attack.

So, I think we have got to go back to there is a threat out there still, possibly. We don't know. We don't believe it is going to be to anybody else.


HILL: Well, as a community that is grappling with those comments, they are also remembering the four students who were killed. Madison Moden and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21 years old, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle, both 20. Last hour, we spoke with a friend of Ethan and Xana who spoke about the kind of people they were.



MADISON FITZGERALD, CLOSE FRIEND OF IDAHO VICTIMS ETHAN CHAPIN AND XANA KERNODLE: It was a privilege to know such kindness. They were both amazing individuals. They had the most warm, amazing hearts. They touched so many lives on campus because of how truly welcoming and kind they were to every person that they ever met. They are the type of kindness that you wake up and you remember and they made you want to be better, kinder people every single day.


HILL: Joining us now, Abigail Spencer, she's the news editor at the Argonaut. It's a student newspaper at the University of Idaho. Abigail, it is good to have you with us this morning.

We played a little bit from that press conference yesterday. I know that you were there. This 180 on whether there is, frankly, calls for concern in the area, that must be unsettling, to put it mildly, to folks in the area. But that coupled with the fact that we heard again this was a targeted attack, have you been able to suss out any further details from authorities?

ABIGAIL SPENCER, NEWS EDITOR, ARGONAUT STUDENT NEWSPAPER AT UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO: Honestly, we really haven't. Authorities are keeping a pretty tight lip on this, obviously, not too interact or interfere with the investigation. But we really don't know much about a suspect or motive or any of those things.

SCIUTTO: Your paper has reported that there was a report of a man on campus earlier this fall threatening students with a knife. Have officials said anything about a possible connection between that incident and these murders?

SPENCER: Officials have not said one way or another whether that incident was involved. However, officials did identify that person back in September. So, one would -- they have not said either way.

HILL: So, they haven't said either way. I mean, is there a concern of people that you're talking with, when you're talking with faculty, when you're talking with students there on campus just to get a sense of how people are doing, is that something that they brought up to you? Is that a concern?

SPENCER: To be honest, that isn't something that's been brought up as of recent. This is really something that is kind of surfaced in the last 24 hours that we haven't heard a ton of yet so far. But I'm going to be back out there today. So, we'll see.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I mean, it is got to be frustrating for you and other students on campus just how the information has come out here, even for their own safety. Have authorities explained why, why the dearth of information and particularly on that question, is there a remaining threat? I mean, that is a very basic piece of information because folks like you and others on campus want to be able to make decisions about their own safety now.

SPENCER: Quite frankly, no. They've not really given us the motivation for them on why they're keeping so many things under wrap. I mean, we can understand the, like, not to interfere with the investigation, but we've not really been given particulars on why such facts would interfere with it.

HILL: I know there are a lot of unanswered questions too when it comes to the timeline. So, this new video has surfaced just after 1:00 A.M., two of the victims at a food truck. We learned from authorities that they were reportedly murdered overnight, that when officials arrived at the house, that was because of a 911 call at 11:58 A.M., for an unconscious person. They got there, the door was opened and there didn't appear to be damage inside. All of those details raising more questions. Are you getting any answers as to that timeline, as to other people who were in the house?

SPENCER: We're not right now. We know that the other two people in the house were the other two roommates who lived in that residence with them. We're not getting any more answers at this time. Obviously, we're trying to respect the traumatic events that have happened to those two living roommates and we assume the police are investigating it to its full conclusion.

SCIUTTO: You're covering this closely yourself, your paper is. What is the most immediate question that you have for police and authorities here?

SPENCER: I think my most immediate question is where is the suspect? With a lack of suspect and a lack of understanding of when that will fall out and when they'll have them in custody, it's presenting really a sense of fear and urgency in the community that I think everyone would really like resolved.

HILL: We spoke earlier this morning with the student union president and vice president. And the vice president, Madison, had said, look, if the school tells me it is safe, I trust them. This is an environment where I have always felt safe. Is it your sense that the school is being as forthcoming as they can be in terms of information, in terms of your safety and your fellow students and the faculty there?


SPENCER: I think the university is being as transparent as they can be. Obviously, they only know as much about the investigation as we do. But they've hired extra security on campus. They've put in the efforts to ensure that students, if they want to go home, can. The university really is trying their best under the circumstances and it is just when we get more information, they'll figure it out next.

HILL: Abigail Spencer, good to have you with us this morning. Thank you.

SPENCER: Of course.

SCIUTTO: Well, pressures grew in Ukraine to broker a potential peace deal with Russia, this as we learn that the supply of U.S. weapons, high-end weapons available to send to Ukraine is now running low. Our new reporting with my colleagues, just ahead.