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U.S. Government At Standstill Amid GOP Revolt Over Speakership; NFL's Damar Hamlin Still In Critical Condition After Cardiac Arrest On Field; Feds Boost Reward For Pipe Bomber In Night Before Insurrection. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 05:30   ET





REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think it's probably best that people work through some more. I think -- I don't think the voting tonight does any difference but I think voting in the future will.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you have a -- do you have a deal with those guys right now?

MCCARTHY: Not yet, but a lot of progress.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, it is like Groundhog's Day, but like a really, really bad Groundhog's Day. Not the funny kind; the, like, what the hell is going on kind. Two days, six votes, and still no speaker.

So, we say good morning, everyone.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: At 5:30. Just a little early for you --

LEMON: It's a little bit early.

HARLOW: -- this morning.

LEMON: Poppy's here. Hi, Kaitlan. How you holding up there?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, I'm still here. I got some new clothes. Some new enforcements were brought in from New York. So we'll see how long it goes.

LEMON: You're doing a lot better than one person and you know who that is.


LEMON: No, Kevin McCarthy. HARLOW: Oh!

LEMON: We're a little punchy because we're a little early. So good morning, everyone.

Kevin McCarthy was nominated again and lost again. The Republican Party struggling to agree on a leader. So what happens when the House ceases to function? That's the question.

COLLINS: They're not functioning right now as McCarthy is trying to sweeten the deal to party hardliners. There are big questions this morning about whether or not these new concessions can actually keep his speaker's bid alive.

HARLOW: Also, Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin is showing signs of improvement. That is great news. He is still, though, in the ICU. We'll tell you this morning what doctors are saying about his condition.

COLLINS: But we start here on Capitol Hill this morning with Kevin McCarthy's increasingly desperate pursuit of the House speakership. It has now been two days of stinging defeats for Kevin McCarthy in six separate votes -- all of them that have failed.

And when the House reconvenes at noon today, the voting is set to begin again as McCarthy, overnight, insisting that progress was being made in talks with some of the 20 Republican holdouts who have blocked his bid and effectively, paralyzed the House chamber.

McCarthy has already agreed to major concessions that could likely erode his power if he eventually actually becomes Speaker of the House.

CNN's Lauren Fox is joining us now this morning. Lauren, I know they broke overnight. They were going to come back at 8:00. They did adjourn. What has happened in the hours since then as Kevin McCarthy appears to be making more and more concessions that would actually weaken him even if he does become speaker.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Those concessions, the big news overnight, Kaitlan, and here is why.

One of them would lower the threshold of what it would take to ask for a vote to actually oust the speaker. A month ago, that was the majority of the conference. A week ago, it was five members of the conference. Last night, McCarthy offered just one member. That's something that moderates have been warning would erode a future speaker's power and would make it almost impossible to govern the House.

Think about all the things that they have to do. They have to raise the debt ceiling. They have to fund the government. They have to pass a farm bill.

If Kevin McCarthy is looking over his shoulder knowing just one member can threaten his speakership, that is going to be a major problem. Other concessions he made -- and this one's really important -- he offered Freedom Caucus members more positions on the Rules Committee. They are the committee that governs the House floor. They decide which bills come to the floor, under what rules those bills come to the floor, and how many amendments each of those bills are going to get.

The Freedom Caucus arguing this is about process. They want the House to work. But this might actually make the House really inoperable.

COLLINS: Yes, it could be pure chaos if all those rules go into effect.

My big question is, though, even with these concessions he's making -- these massive concessions that you talk about -- what it would do to disrupt it -- can he even still get to 218 offering all of this?

FOX: Well, that's the major question today, and we're going to see on the floor if they actually have a vote today at noon. Whether this is moving the needle in any one direction for him.

Chip Roy, who has been negotiating with Kevin McCarthy, as well as Scott Perry -- that's about 10 members. That does not get Kevin McCarthy to the 218 he needs.

COLLINS: No, but 10 is a big -- a big blow for what he's looking at so far. We'll see if it gets there. We'll check back in closer to noon when they do reconvene.

Lauren Fox, thank you.

Poppy, I mean, just remarkable to see what is -- what's playing out here.

HARLOW: I think you might need weekend clothes. I'm just saying. I will bring them to you.

So I think everyone, Kaitlan, is waking up and they want to know -- they know it's dysfunctional but what does it actually mean for them at home. What does it actually mean that the House doesn't have a speaker? That's the question, right?

How does this work or, rather, I should say this morning, how doesn't it work without a speaker? No House members can be sworn in. That means there is no legislative process, right? It grinds to a halt.


No rules can be approved. No committees can be formed. No bills can be passed.

That also means that if there is a crisis -- a national crisis -- the House can't respond. And right now, no House members have security clearances, which means none of them can receive military or intelligence briefings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): We have a third -- one of our three branches of government offline right now. That is a very dangerous thing for our country and it cannot continue much longer. I sit on the House Intelligence Committee. We oversee all 19 intelligence agencies. We are currently offline.

RAJU: Your investigation.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): One or two days isn't going to be the end of the world. I would prefer that we got to 218 yesterday. Unfortunately, we did not.


HARLOW: With a speaker and members, there can be no House oversight or investigations, like the kind Republicans want to launch targeting President Biden and his son, Hunter.

And one last thing to think about. The speaker is normally the second in line to the presidency right after the vice president. Right now, the speaker is not that.

So, let's talk about all this with senior political analyst John Avlon. I think it's the Senate -- isn't it Patty Murray --


HARLOW: -- pro tem?

AVLON: Patty Murray is currently third in line for the presidency.

LEMON: What the hell is going on?

AVLON: Ha! What's going on is the kind of dysfunction that happens when extremes call the shots, and that's been a theme in our politics for the past decade, but never like this.

Don't buy it when members of Congress say well, you know, this is all some form of normal.


AVLON: It ain't.

LEMON: This is great -- the back-and-forth. It's good for the country. It's not.

AVLON: It's not.

LEMON: They're lying.

AVLON: Yes. They're not telling the truth. This is complete chaos and it degradates our democracy, right? This is a lot bigger. When you have a handful -- a small number of people who have this kind of power that they're willing to derail everything for a series of demands, that makes our country look weaker than we are.


Can we talk about the demands or at least the procedural ones?

AVLON: Sure.

HARLOW: Are they all really so bad for democracy? Don't some of them make a little more sense in terms of giving more -- you don't think -- you're smiling --

AVLON: Well --

HARLOW: -- giving some people a little more voice in terms of how things happen?

The motion to vacate with one person doing that would lead -- could lead to chaos.


HARLOW: But some of the others --

AVLON: Well, and that was one of the big concessions overnight, right?


AVLON: I mean, that creates a situation where in order to get the power of being the speaker, McCarthy is giving away a lot of his power, right? And that just weakens the institution.


AVLON: That's probably unworkable with this kind of a coercion.

HARLOW: What about some of the other things they're asking for?

AVLON: Term limits -- voting on term limits -- great. Knock yourself out. I think there -- if this was about policies they would have been able to reach a resolution before it came to this degree of chaos. But I don't think at the end of the day it is.

This is about hostage-taking. This is about flexing. And this is about at the end of the day, does the math work?

Last night, a bunch of McCarthy's allies came out and said there are probably four votes that are immovable --


AVLON: -- and that didn't include Scott Perry and Paul Gosar.

HARLOW: Right. He could afford four.

AVLON: This is just a math problem for Kevin McCarthy. LEMON: Yes. This isn't about -- this is not about policy or whatever.

AVLON: It's not.

LEMON: It's just like hey, this is what we want and we're going to, as you say, flex. We're going to -- we -- they want power. And the whole idea of the speakership is -- right -- it's to put -- it's to put the center of power in one place, right, where you -- a group of people get together and say this is -- this is the person we have decided who is going to lead us. But instead of the person they decide is going to lead us, they are leading that person.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

AVLON: Yes, of course.

LEMON: It's --

AVLON: The tail's wagging the dog.

LEMON: It's bass-akwards, as they say.

AVLON: Bass-akwards is --


AVLON: -- the technical political science term for this.


AVLON: But that's kind of --

HARLOW: Don is making my morning. It's, by the way --

AVLON: Don always makes your day.

HARLOW: -- we're only eight minutes in.

AVLON: Look -- I mean, this is the fundamental problem that we're seeing in our politics. The power has been pushed to the extremes. It's unrepresentative of the republic at large, and that's the thing. This isn't just bad for the Republican Party, this is bad for the republic. And there's no sign of this fever breaking no matter how much Kevin McCarthy wishes it was.

LEMON: Who would want to be speaker? Why would he want to be speaker at this point?

HARLOW: You're asking the same question as The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

AVLON: Oh, good.

HARLOW: Who's crazy enough to be a

LEMON: To be -- right. HARLOW: -- Republican speaker?

AVLON: Well, this is -- this is what we're talking about going into this, right? I mean, John Boehner couldn't control his crazy caucus and he resigned. Paul Ryan, a widely respected policy wonk, continually had problems with his far right.

And remember, Kevin McCarthy is also operating from a degree of PTSD because he tried to get this job in 2015 --

LEMON: And they said no.

AVLON: -- when the Republicans had a 245-vote margin.

HARLOW: But Ryan got it.

AVLON: But Ryan got it because Republicans couldn't call (INAUDIBLE) on Kevin McCarthy.

So he's put all this time in. He's gone and kissed the ring of Mar-a- Lago. And so, he's done everything he can to move money around, to support candidates thinking he would -- you know, he could appease some of these election deniers who formed the core of the opposition group, and he can't.

And that -- the math is painful for him but he -- how does -- how does this end?


AVLON: I don't see how the math works for Kevin McCarthy.

HARLOW: But they --

LEMON: They -- honey, I want a divorce. So you're saying there's a chance? No, I don't want you.

AVLON: So you're saying there's a chance?

LEMON: So you're saying there's a chance? No, I'm moving out. So you're saying there's a chance?


AVLON: Look, there is -- there is still a chance but the math is just fundamentally rough.

LEMON: It is.

AVLON: In the meantime, this public humiliation tour continues and it's bad for the country as well as Kevin McCarthy.

HARLOW: Well --

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: -- you're going to join us in a few hours because we have many hours this morning --

AVLON: Yes, we do.

HARLOW: -- with some really interesting thoughts and maybe a moderate -- maybe, actually bipartisanship in America. We'll see.

AVLON: Keep hope alive.

HARLOW: Thank you, John.

LEMON: We'll see about that. Thank you, John Avlon. Appreciate it.

And coming up, this.


DAN ORLOVSKY, ESPN FOOTBALL ANALYST, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: I've heard the Buffalo Bills organization say that we believe in prayer. And maybe this is not the right thing to do, but I want to -- it's just on my heart that I want to pray for --


ORLOVSKY: -- Damar Hamlin right now.


LEMON: An on-air prayer for Damar Hamlin. That moment, straight ahead. And Hamlin said to be showing signs of improvement. An update on his condition, next.




ORLOVSKY: And maybe this is not the right thing to do, but I want to -- it's just on my heart that I want to pray for --


ORLOVSKY: -- Damar Hamlin right now.

God, we come to you in these moments that we don't understand, that are hard because we believe that you're God and coming to you and praying to you has impact. We're sad, we're angry. We pray for strength for Damar, for healing for Damar, for comfort for Damar. And be with his family to give them peace.

I believe in prayer. We believe in prayer. And we lift up Damar Hamlin's name in your name. Amen.


(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: That was really, really quite a moment to see and to watch. And that was ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky leading a prayer right there live on television for Damar Hamlin.

The Buffalo Bills safety remains in critical condition this morning after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday night's game. We should tell you, though, he's showing signs of improvement. That's according to a statement from the Bills.

Tim Graham is with us -- Buffalo Bills reporter for The Athletic. Tim, it's great to have you

And that's really good news -- signs of improvement. I just wonder is there anything else you know about his condition this morning?

TIM GRAHAM, BUFFALO BILLS REPORTER, THE ATHLETIC (via Webex by Cisco): No, not much more than has been decimated by the team, by the NFL, and by family spokesmen. He is in critical condition at the UC Medical Center in Cincinnati still. He is sedated. He is on a ventilator and he will be brought back to consciousness slowly.

The main concern from what I've been told is lung function. And then, of course, as he is brought back to consciousness out of his sleep, we will learn more about what the effect of his cardiac arrest had on his brain.

LEMON: You know, of course, we're thinking about his family at this moment, but the team as well. Because they were there witnessing all of this as it happened. They were right there on the field.

And I just want to hear what the quarter, Joe Burrow, had to say. I want to play it and then we'll discuss. Here it is.


JOE BURROW, QUARTERBACK, CINCINNATI BENGALS: It was a big wake-up call for everybody that, you know, that's a possibility. That hit happens on every play of every single game. And so, that's the scary part about it.


LEMON: What do you think is going through every player's mind? I thought about that after this -- actually, this morning. Every player's mind because there is a possibility that this could happen on any play.

GRAHAM: I've been covering sports for 30 years. I used to cover boxing in Las Vegas. I was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. I've seen catastrophic injuries take place. I have seen people being brought out of a ring on a backboard off to the hospital never to return because they die in the hospital from a brain bleed.

These are the types of things that have been legislated out of football. And I think there's a belief by the players that this will be taken care of. That head injuries are being legislated out by both penalties and technology, et cetera.

But this is not that. I think that there has been a fear over the years that we may actually see somebody die on a football field in front of our eyes, and we didn't think it was going to be from a heart-related incident. So this puts a totally new category of fear into the minds of everybody who plays this game. Of mothers and fathers, even at the very lowest levels, as to whether or not they going to allow their children to play the game.

To have this play out on the big stage of "MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" -- a huge game that everybody was looking forward to, on your Fantasy Football Championship week, and all these things -- so many eyes were watching this game for a lot of different reasons. And this strikes fear into everyone because this is something we didn't anticipate.

LEMON: Tim Graham --

Harlow: Thank you.

LEMON: -- well said. Thank you very much, sir. You be well.

HARLOW: Well, the FBI is issuing a new appeal in the Capitol pipe bomb investigation. They are continuing to look for the suspect. What they're now offering a day before the two-year mark of January 6.



LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.

Today marks two years since someone placed pipe bombs near the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee headquarters in the nation's capital. It happened on the night before the January 6 Capitol riot. Now the FBI and other agencies are offering $500,000 for information leading to an arrest.

CNN's Paula Reid live for us in Washington with more details. Paula, good morning to you.


As you noted, today marks two years since these bombs were planted and there still hasn't been an arrest. So the FBI, the ATF, the D.C. Police Department -- they're all hoping that half a million dollars might make a difference here.

Now, this reward has already increased significantly. It started out around $50,000, then it went to $100,000, and now this.

And in a statement, the D.C. FBI field office says that with the significantly increased reward, we urge those who may have previously hesitated to contact us, or who may not have realized that they had important information -- to review our website and come forward with anything relevant. And Don, I want to remind people exactly how this played out.

According to the FBI, back on January 6, 2021, these bombs were planted between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. And this security footage that you can see here -- it shows someone carrying a backpack, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. They are clearly wearing a mask. They are also wearing black and light gray Nike sneakers.

Now, CNN has previously reported that these bombs -- they were rigged to an egg timer. They were filled with an explosive powder. And while they were viable, they were never detonated. And they were discovered on January 6 around 1:00 p.m.


Investigators have been looking into this since then and it's been a pretty extensive investigation. They have conducted around 1,000 interviews. They've visited more than 1,200 residences and businesses. They've collected more than 39,000 videos and nearly 500 tips. But still, no arrest.

So they're hoping that this $500,000 reward will help them make a break in this case -- Don.

LEMON: It seems like at this point, they should have something. I mean, two years, Paula.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Also Don, this morning, the legislative process on the Hill is at a complete standstill as Kevin McCarthy is not yet closer to becoming House speaker. Will day three of voting bring more of the same, or what happens next? We are live in Washington.