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Asa Hutchinson: Supporting Nominee Shouldn't Include Someone Found Guilty of a Serious Felony; Fractures in Republican Party Bring House to a Halt. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 08:30   ET


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: I understand to us, like threading that needle doesn't make a ton of sense. Is that a needle that can be thread in a Republican primary?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it's a hard needle to threat because Republican voters are coming at this in a similar way, where they see that as an authentic too. If you're coming from a place as a Trump supporter, he's someone who has had that kind of flip flop. He has had a moment when he has done that backing. He has had moments when he has seemed to try to call him out. And what we have seen consistently is that the Republican electorate does not like when folks go back and forth, him, Nikki Haley, folks have really paid a cost by not kind of choosing and sticking with that line.

But I also think that it's really -- it's a difficult position to be a principled conservative while attacking Donald Trump, because Donald Trump is not a principal conservative, right? And so, it's going to force you in so that these kind of contorted positions, because to be explicitly anti-Trump is to be a loser in this Republican primary. But the facts cause you to have to create that separation.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. I think Governor Asa Hutchinson, another Republican candidate for president, basically called on the party writ large saying, maybe we need a rules change here if the former President is, you know, convicted. Listen to what he tweeted. If he's indicted and if there's a conviction, if the GOP -- the GOP, he says, should clarify that there is no pledge to support a nominee if they are found guilty of espionage or a serious felony. Donald Trump is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation. He should step aside and put the good of the country above his candidacy. How will the party officials see that?

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They should see it as common sense. I mean, that shouldn't be a high bar. That should be --


AVLON: And yet, that speaks to the dangers of a cult of personality in a party that's still enthralled to a former president because they're frankly afraid of the base. But that's a perfectly common-sense standard. And when Mike Pence gets twisted up in pretzel logic about trying to

have it both ways about those sorts of things, it's partly a process question problem, you know, about the debates. And the RNC could resolve that immediately just by setting out that common sense standard.

HERNDON: This is the perplexing part to me about kind of how Republicans have not attacked Donald Trump on this legal question consistently. Is there's some kind of feeling that the next indictment will do the work for them or that there's a kind of ground that's tilled for the Republican Party to do what kind of Governor Hutchinson is asking for?

But because there's been so consistently that rhetoric over years that the federal government is targeting conservatives, and Donald Trump being most emblematic of that, it has not created space for that. The electorate is ready to defend Donald Trump because the party has frankly told them that is a necessary thing to do.

MATTINGLY: Also, there's been like seven years of Republicans being like, this next thing is going to be the thing. That's -- how's that working out for you.

HERNDON: Exactly right.

MATTINGLY: Astead Herndon and John Avlon, guys thank you so much.

HERNDON: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, we do have this news just in, influential conservative Christian Broadcaster Pat Robertson has died. He was 93 years old. Let's take a look back at his life with our Stephanie Elam.


PAT ROBERTSON: Lord, God, fill me now with your spirit.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pat Robertson was a seminal figure of the religious right. He founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, the political advocacy group, the Christian Coalition, and the Christian College Regent University. But he was also known for his outspoken views on homosexuality, feminism, and a host of other hot button issues.

ROBERTSON: There isn't one single civilization that has survived that had openly embraced homosexuality.

ELAM: In 2001, he agreed with fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell that God allowed the 9/11 terrorists to succeed because America had moved to the left and removed religion from the mainstream.

ROBERTSON: I totally concur.

ELAM: The Yale Law School graduate and Korean War vet had a religious awakening in the late 1950s. He bought a bankrupt local station in Portsmouth, Virginia and it became the first outlet for the Christian Broadcast Network. It was the first Christian TV network in the U.S. and became one of the world's largest TV ministries. Its flagship program was the Daily Show he hosted The 700 Club, named for the 700 donors who launched it in 1961.

ROBERTSON: I plan to make a formal announcement of my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.

ELAM: Robertson, whose father was a Congressman and U.S. Senator, ran as a Republican Presidential Candidate in 1988. He came in second in the Iowa caucus. But his campaign didn't fare as well in other primary states. He dropped out of the race and returned to hosting The 700 Club, where he famously made bold predictions that didn't always come true.

ROBERTSON: Romney will win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that?

ROBERTSON: I absolutely believe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes you believe that?

ROBERTSON: Because the Lord told me.

ELAM: Pat Robertson, a key founder of the conservative Christian movement who never shied away from expressing his views, no matter how controversial they might be.


HARLOW: Thoughts with his family, of course.

A conservative revolt paralyzing the House of Representatives as Speaker Kevin McCarthy struggles to win over some hardline members of his own party. We'll speak to a member of the House Freedom Caucus, next.


MATTINGLY: And later, a researcher and scientist is about to resurface after living underwater for 100 days.

HARLOW: So cool.

MATTINGLY: He'll join us live from under the sea. Coming up.


HARLOW: All right, quick check on the economy, this just in. Weekly jobless claims ticked up a little bit last week, surpassing expectations. Initial claims at 261,000, an increase of 28,000 from the week before. This jump comes at the Fed meets next week to decide on interest rates. And will they hike again?

[08:40:11] MATTINGLY: We're going to show you a live look at Capitol Hill, where tensions between House Republicans have brought a halt to the chamber. You're seeing the building members don't have a lot to do inside the building today because of those tensions. Speaker Kevin McCarthy canceling votes for the rest of the week after rebellion from roughly a dozen hardline conservatives frustrated by the Speaker's handling the debt ceiling and some other issues. Take a listen.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Yeah, today we took down the rule because we're frustrated at the way this place is operating. You know, we took a stand in January to end the era of the imperial speakership.


MATTINGLY: Well, here's how Speaker Kevin McCarthy responded to that infighting.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: There's a numerous different things they're frustrated about. So we'll listen to them. We'll solve this. Just like every time we go through here, we got a small majority. There's a little chaos going on, but the focus I always keep is right in front of the windshield the American public. And we're going to work to solve the American public's problems.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now is Republican Congressman Warren Davidson from Ohio. He is a member of the Freedom Caucus, serves on the House Financial Services Committee, and should note, he voted in favor of the debt limit deal, voted for Speaker McCarthy on every ballot during the speaker election in January.

And, Congressman, I bring that up because sometimes Freedom Caucus or kind of conservatives, they are framed as a monolithic bloc that doesn't have differences of opinions or differences of votes. This is roughly a dozen members. I think there are a couple of issues going on here, some having to do with Congressman Clyde, some having to deal with the fallout from the debt ceiling deal.

My question right now is, how does this get resolved? Because this could be a blip or this could be a significant problem. What's your sense of things?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON, (R) OHIO: Well, I think the overall strategy is we recognize, we do have to move forward together. I think those folks who objected to the rule felt like there was a break of that resolve to work together. They feel like they were left out of the final negotiations, and they basically, you know, engaged in a tactical surprise to take down a rule to remind, not just the Speaker, but everyone, hey, we need to work together. Don't leave us out.

MATTINGLY: Is this, you know, you mentioned I think it was actually very clever, as a former Congressional Quarterly reporter, procedural nerd, to go the, take down the rule route tactical surprise, as you note. However, is this a move up a continuous escalatory ladder? As in, is the next step moving towards going after the Speaker himself, or is this a warning shot then people pull back?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, we'll see. It's not clear that it was tied to a clear strategy that, hey, this is exactly what we want. But it was a reminder that, you know, at the end of the day, we need to work together. And clearly, these folks felt like there was a break from that resolve to work together.

HARLOW: If it does escalate, even beyond a potential motion to vacate, you know, when it comes to McCarthy, what about getting spending bills passed and averting a government shutdown? I mean, the way that Matt Gaetz put it, he said House leadership couldn't hold the line, and then he tweeted, now we hold the floor. Doesn't sound exactly temporary from his perspective.

DAVIDSON: Well, Matt's never really been on board from the beginning of the year. I hope that we can continue to work together. The reality is, if there was an effort to undermine Speaker McCarthy, that would leave Senator McConnell as the only power broker amongst Republicans in D.C.

And frankly, his record on spending is not very good. The Senate was already clamoring to spend more. So for those folks that had a hard time getting to yes on the debt limit, look, I wanted to vote no on the debt limit until we had a balanced budget attached to the debt limit, that's the rational position we should all be behind. But there aren't votes for that. So it's like, well, what's the most conservative position that can actually become law? And we got the largest cuts that we've ever had as a body, and we got caps on spending. People said those aren't real. Well, the senators, when they were debating it, certainly felt like they were real. We got work requirements. We got the reforms to permitting for NEPA and more.

So were there things that were left away? Yeah, I think absolutely. But inherently, in a compromise, there were going to be conservatives that couldn't get the yes on the bill, and there were going to be progressives that couldn't get the yes on the bill. And that's kind of the mean of the bill curve, and I think that's what passed.

MATTINGLY: You know, you mentioned Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans being frustrated one with the cast, particularly on defense spending, but also with the concern that there will not be the support for additional Ukraine funding. Your position on this has been very clear. Would you say that the possibility of Ukraine funding, with your Republican majority, with members like yourself who have your concerns that there is not going to be any more Ukraine funding. You guys could control that depending on what the Speaker does and where your side of things ends up.


DAVIDSON: Well, I haven't voted for any funding for Ukraine yet because we haven't created a mission for Ukraine other than help Ukraine. I mean, that won't get you out of infantry off your basic course, for sure. You have to define a mission, and this is incredibly important that the nation does that. We're still kind of engaged in this endless war mindset, more wars in more places. And we need to get back to the principles that we had kind of post-Vietnam era for a long-time, is let's decide the mission and decide the exit strategy before we commit ourselves to a war. In the case of Ukraine, it really is a proxy war. And so I think that's important. But as for funding, we set caps and whatever spending we do need to stay within those caps.

MATTINGLY: So what you're saying right now is, in your view, there should and will not be any more Ukraine funding based on the agreement that was just reached?

DAVIDSON: Well, there should be no funding outside of those caps if the biggest priority for national security is somehow Ukraine. I look forward to hearing that debate and seeing that intelligence, and we set a cap for defense funding. It's hard for me to see how that would be, you know, the resolution. And clearly that's not what Lindsey Graham's talking about. He's talking about spending outside the caps. And there was a period like that for a long time called OCO, Overseas Contingency Operations. And they would pretend that they weren't spending this. They would exclude it from Congressional Budget Office scores and everything else. It was complete path to bankrupting our country and more wars in more places with no definition of victory is a big part of the debt that's been racked up.

MATTINGLY: It's going to be an intense debate going forward. Congressman, I know you'll be in the middle of it. Warren Davidson, thanks so much.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you.

A live look at Philadelphia, where the FAA has just issued a ground stop there. Remember, there was grounds up here in New York, now one in Philly. Because of the low visibility from this wildfire smoke, the air quality in Philadelphia now deemed hazardous. We have the latest on that.

MATTINGLY: Plus, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to live underwater, our next guest has done it for nearly 100 days straight. Dr. Joseph Dituri joins us live from under the sea, you see right there, coming up next.

HARLOW: Do you know what song we should play guys, bumping in?



HARLOW: A morning moment for you 100 days, that is how long our next guest will have lived 22 feet under the sea when he resurfaces tomorrow. We're talking about Dr. Joseph Dituri. He set a new world record last month all in the name of science. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH DITURI, DIVING EXPLORER & MEDICAL RESEARCHER: Hey, it's May 13, that's day 73, which means that I just broke the world record for the longest time spent living in an undersea habitat. It feels like time has flown by because I've been doing scientific experiments. We have also exceeded every one of our outreach goals by reaching over 2500 kids in 90 outreach sessions from ten different countries.


HARLOW: This mission is his latest adventure on a quest to find out how well can humans survive in isolated, confined environments. And we are joined by the man himself, literally under the sea. Dr. Joseph Dituri joins us. He is a diving explorer and a medical researcher.


HARLOW: Hi. Underwater in the water --

DITURI: Thank you for having me, I really appreciate it. Happy World Oceans Day.

HARLOW: Oh, is it? Happy world -- did you know that?

MATTINGLY: Yeah, obviously, that's why we put the thing behind this.

DITURI: No coincidence that the last pay, me being down here is World Oceans Day.

HARLOW: Oh my -- so you made it. How does it feel?

DITURI: It feels wonderful. It's like the culmination of the entirety of what we've been trying to accomplish. And we've upped those numbers from the earlier statement of 2500, we've reached almost 5000 kids in science, technology, engineering and math. We are just thanks to you guys, we're crushing it.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask, you broke the record days ago.

HARLOW: Why are you still there?

MATTINGLY: Why are you still there?

DITURI: Well, because we set out with the goal in mind, the singular goal in mind to see what human duration is, right? To extend to 100 days to put a line in the sand of 100 days. It was never about the world record. Not for me at least. It was about seeing what happens to the body when you leave it in this place. So we took blood, urine, saliva, all kinds of electrocardiograms. Electroencephalograms. We did a lot of scientific research down here that's going to be practically applicable to us doing any kind of stay duration anywhere, like going to Mars or like living in the ocean, if you will.

HARLOW: What about the loneliness, impact? I know that's scientifically hard to measure, but anecdotally what's it been like for you?

DITURI: It has been tough. I mean, I'm not going to lie that what we miss as humans is what we learned during COVID that humans need tactile interaction, humans need that handshake, that hug, that high five something, right? And we learned that during COVID and I personally relearned it again down here and hopefully we can pass it on to the next generation of kids to not be here, to be more here. And that's certainly something we need. So it's something we got to deal with as a society.

MATTINGLY: That's -- it's a great message, particularly for kids. Got to ask before we go, what's the first thing you're doing? What are you craving or looking forward to most when you step out back on the land tomorrow?

DITURI: I am a creature of the sun. I'm so looking forward to the warmth of the sun and a great sunset.


HARLOW: Oh, we'll give you that. You're going to get one. I just feel it. Dr. Joseph Dituri, this is so fascinating. I can't wait to show my kids what you've done and your book. We see behind you Secrets in Depth. Thank you, thank you. And we'll see you when you rise up.

HALEY: Congratulations. This is super cool.

DITURI: Have them tune into Dr. Deep Sea, there's some good stuff out there, too.

HARLOW: I will.

DITURI: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: OK, thank you very much. Thanks, all of you for joining us on a very busy news day when I think it's going to get busier as the day progresses.

MATTINGLY: Question, maybe we should talk about tomorrow morning.

HARLOW: Yeah, come back. It's Friday. Thanks for joining us. See you tomorrow morning. CNN News Central starts after this.