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CNN This Morning

House Fails to Impeach Mayorkas in Stunning Defeat; RNC Chairwoman Offers to Step Down to Placate Trump Wishes; Nikki Haley Loses in GOP Primary to 'None of These Candidates'; Hamas Proposes 3- Phase Plan Lasting Several Months; Court Rules Trump Does Not Have Immunity in Federal Election Case. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 06:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow with Phil Mattingly in New York.


Donald Trump's team is trying not to be 2 for 2 in legal losses. A federal appeals court unanimously ruling he is not immune from prosecution for alleged crimes he committed during his presidency. And soon, the Supreme Court will decide if the states can remove Trump from their primary ballots.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And stunning defeats for House and Senate Republicans. The House vote to impeach homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas has failed. On the Senate side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting defeat on that bipartisan border deal.

Also, breaking overnight, Hamas proposes 135-day plan that includes an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages. What's ahead in a crucial day of meetings as the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, meets with the Israeli prime minister.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: And here is where we begin. It has been a head-spinning -- fair word?


HARLOW: -- 24 hours for Republicans. In a hugely embarrassing defeat, the House GOP failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after three Republicans broke ranks. Listen to the reaction on the House floor.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): On this vote, the yeas are 214, and the nays are 216. The resolution is not adopted.




HARLOW: Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Republican infighting and intense pressure from Donald Trump has effectively killed the only bipartisan bill to address the unprecedented surge of migrants at the Southern border.

MATTINGLY: Now, back in the House, Republicans also failed to pass their own stand-alone aid package for Israel.

On top of all this dysfunction on Capitol Hill, we're now learning RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniels is offering to step down as Trump pushes to install his own choice for party chair.

And in Nevada, that GOP primary, Nikki Haley lost by double digits, not to Trump but to the well-known option of "none of these candidates." Seriously.

Let's bring in CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox.

Lauren, let's go back to this impeachment vote. We were talking yesterday, and I said, look, they're not going to put this on the floor if they don't have the votes. Apparently, they didn't have the votes.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's pretty remarkable, Phil, this moment yesterday.

Look, if you're going to put something this monumental, this historic on the floor of the House of Representatives, you better know where your votes are. And you better know what the attendance is on the other side.

And that is the issue that Republicans ran into yesterday. They knew that they were likely going to have three no votes. That's certainly what happened on their side.

Mike Gallagher had some specific concerns about setting a new precedent for impeachment. And he made that pretty clear in the Republican conference meeting hours before the vote.

But what Republicans hadn't anticipated is that Al Green, a Democrat, would come from the hospital and actually vote on the floor.

And what's really interesting -- let me set the table for you -- is there had been a vote right before this one, in which Al Green didn't cast a vote. And that had sort of made Republicans think, OK, we know where the attendance is.

Then this vote begins and at the end here, Al Green comes -- he's wheeled into the House chamber. He votes. Our reporting is he was voting without shoes on. And that certainly set the tone last night that Mayorkas vote was not going to actually pass, and he wouldn't be impeached.

Now, the attendance in the House of Representatives is really fluid right now, which means that when Scalise returns back to the House of Representatives after getting cancer treatment, this is going to pass.

But it just shows you how tenuous this majority is right now. You have to know where every single vote is, and you have to know where the other side stands, too. You know, Andy Biggs, who's a conservative, he told our colleague, Andy Greer (Ph), off the floor last night, You know, I like a good game. The Democrats played a good game. I just don't like we lost.


HARLOW: The Senate will be taking a procedural vote on the immigration package today. What do you expect from that? We all know where Trump stands.

FOX: Yes. And we all know know where the Senate Republican conference is headed, right? They are not going to be voting to advance this bill.

I think one question mark I still have is James Lankford and what he does. He's someone who created and authored this legislation. He told our colleague Dana Bash he was still looking at whether or not he was going to be voting to advance it, saying that if he felt like members just needed a little more time, perhaps he would be willing to vote against it to give them that time.

But look, time is not going to make this situation any better.

And you saw yesterday McConnell making clear that they are going to need to turn to a Plan B. Democrats, meanwhile, very frustrated. Here's Chris Murphy.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): You want to fix the border, or do you want the keep the border a mess in order to help Donald Trump?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There are other parts of this supplemental that are extremely important, as well. Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan. We still, in my view, ought to tackle the rest of it, because it's important. Not that the border isn't important, but we can't get an outcome.


HARLOW: And the border, of course, is attached to that $60 billion in Ukraine aid, that $14 billion in Israel aid. Those are still top priorities right now for Senate Republicans.

So it looks like they're going back to the drawing board that existed for them four months ago which is perhaps Republicans would be willing in the Senate to just move forward with a supplemental package that doesn't include the border.

MATTINGLY: All right. Lauren Fox. Man, your job is fun. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp; CNN senior political analyst and anchor, John Avlon.

Look, this was clearly another day of a full-on pursuit of the Republican agenda of sequentially finding rakes and stepping on them. I think what I'm trying to figure out, longer term here, is there are real-world consequences to what's happening right now with legislative inaction.

And you look at the scale of the national security package generally; also, what's going on at the border. Is there a near-term resolution for this?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I mean, I don't have much optimism on that. I mean, this is -- Congress isn't -- isn't solving most problems.

And Republicans are playing politics with policy. They've decided that politics, i.e. trying to impeach Mayorkas -- that's a political project -- is more important than a policy win. Which they asked for and got and then are now refusing.

So there's -- there's now an effort on the left to say, OK, maybe we had a hand in breaking this, but you're refusing to fix it. And so now you own it. We'll see if voters buy that. But it's a good messaging trick.

HARLOW: John, you want to look big picture at sort of the big story here of House Speaker Mike Johnson so far.

AVLON: So much losing. House Republicans have shown themselves to be unwilling and unable to govern in the national interest.

CUPP: Uninterested in it. Yes.

AVLON: This is -- this is so many levels of failure. Yesterday in particular, right? Couldn't get a stand-alone Israel bill. Couldn't get the Mayorkas vote. Have gutted provisions that were bipartisan that Republicans requested to strengthen the border. "The Wall Street Journal" and others saying this is the best border bill you could -- Donald Trump couldn't get this.

And -- and now they're holding -- what's really revealed is they're holding Ukraine hostage. That was always the objection. Because if you put Ukraine supplemental funding up for a vote, it would pass. It would pass.

So they are playing politics with the border, and they are putting lives at risk in Ukraine. And in the fullness of history, this is going to look like a Neville Chamberlain moment.

MATTINGLY: I think that, when I kind of look at the landscape, and to your point on the bigger picture, what I'm trying to figure out is, what is the pathway out? Not in the -- you're always very good at identifying, with significant idealism that I respect and wish I could share.

CUPP: We call it Sorkinian (Ph). AVLON: Thank you very much. I take that as a compliment.

MATTINGLY: But I think it's one, as well, when we look around, look, the Israel aid package was a messaging bill, right? The Biden administration had already offered to veto. They knew it had no pathway in the Democratic-led Senate. They were trying to foreclose pathways and jam people.

The Mayorkas, as you noted, would do nothing for the border. It was purely political. They were trying to cool off the base so they could move other things.

They can't do the stuff that's not supposed to do anything. How are they going to do the stuff that does something?

CUPP: You make the mistake of assuming they want to do stuff. And the point for Republicans now is condensing the party, making it as pure as it possibly can be. And fomenting grievances. It has nothing to do with governing.

It doesn't even have anything to do with winning, putting up electoral wins or governing wins. I mean, the RNC has been gutted of most of its effectiveness and -- you know, problem solving. It's not interested, as a party, in doing any of those things.


So, no surprise, it's getting none of those things done. It doesn't care.

AVLON: That is such a dereliction of duty. Do your job.

CUPP: Sure.

AVLON: Being an incompetent cult is not a substitute for being a functioning political party where you actually solve problems, which is what the American people elect members of Congress to do.

HARLOW: And pay them to do.

Stay with us. We've got a whole lot ahead, guys.

And in a highly unusual move, the National Republican Party chair offering to step down for former President Trump, even though he hasn't won the nomination yet. This is very rare.

Ronna McDaniel was elected to her post with Trump's full support after serving as GOP chairwoman in Michigan.

Recently, though, Trump's view of McDaniel has soured due to the RNC's poor finances, his feelings that the RNC could have supported him more in 2020. And now Trump says he'll make recommendations for her replacement after the South Carolina primary.

CNN's Alayna Treene joins us now. Not only is it striking, because Trump's tune on her has changed so much, but she's held this position for so long, and it's rare to ever see something like this, is it not?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's very rare. It was -- it's a stunning development.

But look, I mean, Ronna McDaniel was facing pressures on a lot of fronts. And that's part of what led to this decision. But there's no doubt that Donald Trump was the driving force behind her offering to leave the RNC after South Carolina.

There's a couple reasons for that. I mean, Donald Trump and Ronna McDaniel, the relationship between the two has really deteriorated in recent -- in recent years and even more so over the past week.

As you mentioned, Poppy, Donald Trump still harbors a lot of resentment toward the RNC for what he believes is them not doing enough to challenge the 2020 election results. And that's something I hear time and time again in my conversations with Trump's advisers.

They also grew increasingly frustrated with her and how the RNC handled the Republican primary debates. Obviously, Donald Trump did not participate in those. And Trump himself has privately griped about why can't the RNC not remain neutral? Why can't they come out and endorse me? That's something he had said in the past, over the -- over the past year now.

But look, this all really hit a tipping point last week, I'm told. And that's partly because the RNC reported just having 8 million in the bank last year. That's the lowest fundraising haul they've had in more than about a decade. And that's really when Donald Trump and his advisers started to make plans to send a clear message that something needed to change at the RNC.

And that's why you're seeing Ronna make this decision, and it all kind of culminated after a meeting on Monday, where they met at Mar-a-Lago for more than two hours with -- between her and Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: Alayna, while we have you, there was a primary last night in the Republican Party.

HARLOW: In case you missed it.

MATTINGLY: And it's very confusing and convoluted, and Donald Trump is not on the ballot. And this was all kind of jury-rigged to ease his pathway here.

But Nikki Haley lost to the well-known candidate of "none of these candidates." We've reached out to their campaign manager for comment.

I guess the question is, They weren't playing here. They knew this was a done deal. They're focused on South Carolina. But how bad is that headline right now for the only Trump challenger left?

TREENE: It is bad. I mean, there's no doubt that this is embarrassing for her. Especially because, look, Haley is trying to make the point that she's still a viable candidate in this primary, especially as they head into South Carolina, where her chances there are not looking that great, even though it's her home state.

And even though this was a state where Haley really spent no time. She didn't spend a dime in Nevada. And that's partly because her campaign has argued that it's rigged for Donald Trump. It's still an embarrassing defeat.

Now, I do want to just quickly read to you a statement from her campaign. Her campaign spokesman told CNN, quote, "Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots. the house wins. We didn't bother to play a game rigged for Trump. We're full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond."

And again, even though there was no effort behind this, I mean, they chose to play in the primary, not the caucus, which is really, for all intents and purposes, far more important for the Republican candidates, because that's where the delegates are decided. It's still an embarrassing defeat. And it is not a good sign for her as, you know, she heads into South Carolina in a couple weeks.

MATTINGLY: A couple weeks left. Alayna Treene, thank you.

I want to bring back John Avlon, S.E. Cupp. You mentioned the RNC when we were talking a few moments ago. What do you think about all this?

CUPP: Well, we sort of got to this. It is remarkable. Not only that there's this leadership change, because she's been there for so long, and her institutional knowledge is so great -- she's actually well- liked inside the RNC -- it is an election year. And they're making a leadership change in the middle of an election year. That's wild.

But apparently, she was not compliant enough for Trump, right? Not refusing -- you know, refusing to cancel all the primary debates. That really bothered him. This is a woman who dropped her maiden name, reportedly, for Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: What was it again?

CUPP: Romney. And that wasn't compliant enough. So I think we should not be surprised if Donald Trump names Donald Trump interim head of the RNC.

AVLON: I want to lean into that point. You can change your name to try to please Donald Trump. And that's not loyalty enough.


If you have any question about not parroting his lies loudly, and doing whatever he wants -- and she did a lot for him. Right? I mean, the whole --

CUPP: Paid his legal bills.

AVLON: Paid his legal bills. The RNC is a shell of itself, because they've been funding his -- none of it's enough. They will -- loyalty is a one-way street, and he will still stick you with the shiv.

CUPP: Let's end there.

MATTINGLY: I'm just trying to think is there's a counter to it, and I'm having a difficult time finding one.

All right, guys. Stick around. We've got a lot more to get to with all of you.

Breaking this morning, Hamas responded to the latest hostage deal. We're live in Tel Aviv with what the group is now saying.

HARLOW: Also, landmark verdict. For the first time, the parent of a school shooter is found criminally responsible. How much time she is facing in prison.


HARLOW: Well, breaking news this morning, we are getting new details about a counterproposal from Hamas for a potential hostage deal. Hamas is proposing a three-phased plan that would last several months.

It pushes a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza.

But an Israeli official familiar with these negotiations tells CNN there is, quote, "no way" that Israel will agree to all of that.


MATTINGLY: That proposal comes as, happening right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials behind closed doors.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us live from Tel Aviv. Jeremy, let's start with the proposal. Where exactly are -- is Hamas proposing? Where do we think this is going to go?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the bottom line here is that Hamas is sticking to its demand that these negotiations, these releases of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, ultimately needs to end with a permanent ceasefire to this war, the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip. And that is obviously something that the Israeli prime minister himself has been repeatedly saying in recent days that he will not agree to.

But if you dig into the details of this proposal, let's look at phase 1, for example, here. You have the release -- excuse me -- of women, children, the sick, the elderly in exchange for Palestinian prisoners; intensification of humanitarian aid; a temporary ceasefire; and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from population centers. And beginning to have talks about a complete ceasefire.

Phase 2 would see the completion of those talks for a ceasefire; the release of all male hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners; and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, whereas phase 3 would ultimately see the exchange of bodies and remains of the deceased, including those some 31 Israeli hostages who are believed to be dead inside of Gaza.

But it's important to look at phase 1. Because if you look at phase 1, it is not all that different from what Israel has agreed to as part of a broad framework proposal with Egypt, Qatar and the United States: in terms of the types of hostages who would be released, the length of the pause, 45 days versus six weeks; about the same there.

The real question is whether or not they can agree to something on phase 1 here, and then move forward and continue negotiating over phases 2 and 3, where clearly, the major stumbling blocks will appear.

Now, that's not to say that phase 1 here is identical to what was proposed in that broad framework. There are still some significant differences, including over the types of Palestinian prisoners who would be released here.

But the bottom line is that they are not all that far apart as it relates to phase 1. But will they need an agreement on all three phases before they start to move towards this? Or will they agree to some kind of phase 1 agreement and then continue negotiating as that phase 1 is implemented?

President Biden, for his part, said yesterday that he found Hamas's proposal a little over the top, and Secretary of State Tony Blinken has made very clear there is still work to be done. He is doing that work as we speak, meeting with the Israeli prime minister and his team in -- in Tel Aviv today. Those negotiations will very much continue -- Poppy, Phil.

HARLOW: Jeremy Diamond, potentially really significant development. We'll see where it goes. Thanks very much.

Also, in an historic decision, an appeals court here in the United States resoundingly, unanimously rejecting Donald Trump's immunity claim. We'll explain it all to you and the broader implications in Trump's next legal battles.

MATTINGLY: Plus, a stunning new report finds that key bolts were missing on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane that lost a door plug mid- flight. What else investigators discovered. We'll have it for you next.



MATTINGLY: The Supreme Court justices set to hear arguments today about whether former President Trump should be removed from the ballot in Colorado under the 14th Amendment's ban on insurrectionists holding public office.

Trump lawyers -- Trump's lawyers will be there. But this time, Trump will not be. A source telling CNN that after treating court appearances like campaign stops up to now, Trump realized just how, quote, "serious this case is." Meanwhile, Trump suffered a major blow on Tuesday after an appeals

court ruled he does not have immunity in his federal election subversion case. The court says "former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three branches. We cannot accept that the office of the presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter."

CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us now. Just to clarify, the Supreme Court arguments are tomorrow.

HARLOW: He's just very excited for that.

MATTINGLY: I'm so excited. There's a lot of legal --


MATTINGLY: This is why I talk to you before I talk because you kind of separate everything out for me in the calendar.

Hey, can we talk about those arguments, though? Do we have any sense of what the Trump legal kind of strategy or plan is, at least as he waits for this 14th Amendment decision to come?

POLANTZ: Yes. So everybody has put in their arguments already on whether Trump should be on the ballot. The Trump team says the states shouldn't be able to make this decision. And the voters, who are challenging him out of Colorado, say the states can absolutely make this decision, that he's ineligible.

But our understanding through our course reporting over this past week is Trump is not going to be there for these oral arguments. He did attend a recent argument in another appeals case. Not before the Supreme Court; in front of a court in D.C.

But with this, this is a big case. He's been using these court hearings, proceedings in his various cases, as campaign stops, but not tomorrow. That's because there's really no upside to this, one source told us, in this case related to the 14th Amendment.

His team is going to be arguing something where they're winning in a lot of states. He's only off of the ballot, or he's been told that he's ineligible to be on the ballot in only two states, Colorado and Maine. A ton of states have said -- and they've looked at this issue-- that they're not going to be removing him from primary ballots for the 2024 election. So, they're winning in this.

And Trump also has other things to do. He's going to the Nevada caucus on Thursday for a party there. And so, this is one of those situations where, you know, don't mess it up while you're ahead, especially in a place like the Supreme Court with so much decor rum.

HARLOW: A super significant appellate decision came out yesterday. Not only that it was unanimous. The way that this was written and the language that was used, what it says about this claim that a president should have absolute immunity in some circumstances. POLANTZ: Right. So Poppy and Phil, this is the case related to Donald

Trump in federal court facing January 6th, 2020, election charges.

And the appeals court in D.C. made a decision that now is going to go to the Supreme Court. So we're talking about 14th Amendment where his team is ahead.

This is a case where Donald Trump has been losing. And this is the much bigger legal risk before him right now.