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Chaos In GOP After Kevin McCarthy Loses Third Speaker Vote; Cameron Culliver Discusses Damar Hamlin's Impact On His Hometown Community; Suspect Bryan Kohberger Waives Extradition From Pennsylvania. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 03, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Look, we are only a matter of hours away now from when the House is going to be back in session tomorrow at noon, and will do what they did today all over again, after they failed to elect a speaker on three consecutive ballots today, leaving Kevin McCarthy fighting for his political life.

But there is a lot going on behind the scenes as we speak, including an effort by the so-called "never Kevin" Republicans to turn things in their direction. That as Kevin McCarthy tells CNN he spoke to former President Trump tonight and he -- quote -- "reiterated support."


UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) Trump to come out and reiterate his support for you?


UNKNOWN (voice-over): How was the call with Trump? What did you guys discuss? What was the nature of it?

MCCARTHY: I mean, look, from my perspective, he thinks it is better that all the Republicans get together itself. It does not look good for Republicans (INAUDIBLE) stronger in the long run. What we went through today, in the end becomes positive, and we're actually focused to unite --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did he say -- does he want you to stay in the race?

MCCARTHY: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.


COATES: Meanwhile, the republican war of words continues. There is this letter from Matt Gaetz, the architect of the Capitol, questioning why Kevin McCarthy has been allowed to even occupy the speaker's office in the Capitol Building. He writes -- quote -- "After three undeciding votes, no member can lay claim to this office. How long will he remain there before he is considered a squatter? -- unquote.

Now, Congresswoman Nancy Mace tearing in to Gaetz tonight, tweeting at Matt Gaetz, "Full ego was on display today. He's going to screw around and get another Pelosi elected speaker. I'll have a lot more to say about this political D-lister tomorrow." -- end quote.

So, look, if you thought today was crazy, Melanie Zanona is here today and wondering how is something and everything shaping up tomorrow. Are we seeing a bit of a Groundhog Day happening again tomorrow?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah. Well, Laura, unfortunately, I do think it might be a bit of a Groundhog Day tomorrow because we are seeing no resolution at this point. After that third ballot where McCarthy failed to get the votes, they adjourned, the sort of camps went into their separate corners to try to work things out, but we have not seen things move in Kevin McCarthy's direction.

In fact, I am being told that the "never Kevin" Republicans are trying to grow their ranks and to grow their opposition. I talked to a GOP lawmaker who supported McCarthy and they said they received a phone call from one of the "never Kevin" Republicans trying to get them to change their vote.

So, it is a sign that the opposition is just completely entrenched and dug in, and that at least some of them have no incentive right now to cooperate with Kevin McCarthy and to negotiate with him.

And meanwhile, you have Kevin McCarthy who is in his office. He was making calls. He is still hoping to negotiate and hoping to lock down 218 votes. But it's really unclear what the path forward is for Kevin McCarthy right now.

COATES: I mean, it is really unclear, especially even for Democrats right now who are being a little bit, you know, very obvious, shall we say, in their joy about all that is unfolding. We are seeing, you know, tweets about getting the popcorn ready and everything else, about watching what is happening.

We heard from Hakeem Jeffries earlier today, talking about the idea of not wanting to be helpful, to try to get Republicans out of the mess they have created. Of course, I am paraphrasing him.

But what about Democrats? Is there some moment in time where there is an appetite for, say, moderate Republicans who try to work with Democrats, to figure out who is an alternative to McCarthy?

ZANONA: I think it is still early. But yes, we are hearing from some moderate Republicans who say if this drags on and there is no end in sight, that they are willing to start conversations with Democrats about either teaming up to elect a more moderate speaker or teaming up with Democrats to try to get them to vote present or not show up because that would essentially lower the threshold that Kevin McCarthy needs to become speaker.

But, of course, Democrats, they will not do that for nothing. They would want something in return. So, there would have to be some negotiations there. And Kevin McCarthy himself has said he doesn't want a -- quote -- "democratic support" because then we could start losing even more conservatives.


ZANONA: That could backfire for him. So, it's a really delicate situation here for Kevin McCarthy. Democrats have said they have no intentions of bailing Kevin McCarthy out. But they have also not necessarily ruled out, again, that idea of working with -- working with Republicans to elect someone who is much more moderate than Kevin McCarthy further down the line, anyway.

COATES: Well, we'll see where things go. Melanie, I hope you have comfy shoes on tomorrow. It's going to be a long --

ZANONA: I changed into my flops. I was wearing heels earlier today and I've already switched over. I'm just going to wear the flops all day tomorrow.

COATES: Look, we all knew you were smart. Now, we know you are even smarter.


COATES: Thank you so much, Melanie Zanona, everyone. Listen, Democrats are watching all the republican speaker drama. Well, we've got some great interest, shall we say.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Rho Khanna of California. Congressman, thank you for joining me this evening. It is nice to see you. Look, I just have to know about what the atmosphere was like today. We are watching, obviously, the vote tallies. We are also seeing on camera different pockets of your own members of your caucus and Democrats who were huddled together, conversing and watching this all unfold.

What is the atmosphere like as you saw three failed votes to secure a Republican speaker of the House?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I think there was a lot of surprise. I mean, look, Kevin McCarthy has had two months to put the votes together, and many on our side, the speaker, Steny Hoyer, were actually hoping for the sake of the institution that the Republicans would figure it out.

We came in thinking maybe six vote-short, seven-vote short. But 20 votes? No one counted on that. It is just mind-boggling that they have not done anything for two months to put together a governing coalition.

COATES: Well, you know, shortly after the midterm elections, Democrats were able to get their leadership lined up. So, clearly, there has been preparation on the democratic side. I'm wondering, is there some sort of plan now on the democratic side to figure out how best to go forward on your side?

KHANNA: We are going forward. There was not a single defection in the vote for Hakeem Jeffries. Of course, it's a historic vote, the first African American to lead a party in the House of Representatives, and we are very optimistic about our leadership.

Here is the sense, if there are five or six Republicans who want to come across the vote Hakeem speaker would be thrilled. People have floated this idea of, well, what about a moderate Republican?

There have to be, in my view, at least two conditions that are met. First, they can't hold this country hostage with a debt ceiling or government shutdown. And second, they can't have subpoena power to do frivolous investigations against the president. Unless they agree to those two terms, I don't think a single Democrat is going to vote for any Republican.

COATES: If those, you know, goals have not been met or those conditions not met, is there a person who could embodies some of those qualities that you, as Democrat, might be leaning to support?

KHANNA: I think it is premature to talk about specific names. I will say, there are people across the aisle who we have worked with and we would work with, people like Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Gallagher, but the important is not the personality. The important thing is, are they willing, as Hakeem Jeffries has said, to actually govern?

Are they willing to help work to bring manufacturing back, do not have government shutdown, to legislate and compromise on immigration reform, or is they're only interest to launch frivolous investigation against this president?

We will not give a single vote to a Republican speaker who just wants to use the subpoena power to harass the president and not to get things done for the American people.

COATES: There was an interesting moment today, Congressman, between Congressman Paul Gosar, who voted against McCarthy three times, we've seen chatting with one of your colleagues, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and given, of course, the fact that he was removed from a committee based on a tweet that he sent out that depicted some violence against her, it's an interesting -- to have this conversation.

However, he was asking her today if Democrats were planning to help lower the threshold for McCarthy. And this is according to her spokesperson, there was no plan for that, to try to lower the threshold. Remember, I k now we are talking about the magic number being 218, but really, it is the majority of those present and voting, whoever can secure that.

Is there some plan that is afoot or a plan that might change tomorrow to lower a threshold to give an advantage to somebody else?

KHANNA: No, and I think it showed incredible, frankly, graciousness and class from Representative Ocasio-Cortez to engage with someone who had used violent images against her. But, look, maybe this shows that anything is possible in 2023. And the fact that she had the grace to talk to Representative Gosar shows that we may be able to have conversations.


KHANNA: But at the end of the day, this is the republican mess. This is a failure of them to govern. This is their problem to fix. Democrats stand ready if they want to vote for Hakeem Jeffries or they -- or serious partners in actually governing and helping work with the president to get things done.

COATES: And finally, really quick, I was speaking to Congressman Sessions from Texas earlier in the show today. He says there does not seem to be a thought that this could go on for round after round after round tomorrow. There wouldn't have been the appetite for a sustained -- really Groundhog Day experience of today. Are you getting a sense that there is waning patience among even Republicans to continue in the quest to have McCarthy as the speaker?

KHANNA: Laura, honestly, no. I mean, I think both sides are digging in. The people I have talked to on the republican side, they are saying they are prepared to fight. This is going to go on. I don't think -- I hope it is resolve tomorrow. I don't think so. I think we are going to be at this for a while and there are going to be several long nights this week.

COATES: Congressman Khanna, I know long nights will be here tomorrow as well. Nice talking to you.

KHANNA: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: I want to bring in CNN political commentator Van Jones, also Mark McKinnon, former adviser to George w. Bush and also the late John McCain.

Gentlemen, it was a long day for a person by the name of Kevin McCarthy and promises perhaps, Van, to be even longer one tomorrow. I am wondering what you make of this. It has been talked about as a humiliating defeat as of now for Kevin McCarthy. But is it a humiliation more broadly for the Republican Party in the House?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I'm starting to get the impression that maybe Republicans aren't good at governing stuff. I'm just getting a sneaking suspicion because--

COATES: Well, Mark McKinnon is smiling at that. So, I don't know. Maybe he is joyous. I don't know. I see the smile.

JONES: That -- this was just a humiliating circus. I think Axelrod referred to it as a goat rodeo. This is supposed to be one of the most majestic moments in the American process where the people have voted all these representatives.

You go, you pick a speaker, and everyone gets sworn in. Your mom is there, your dad is there, your cousins are there. It's a beautiful day. And it turned into a complete and disaster because, unlike the Democratic Party, the Republicans cannot find a way to come together and lead.

It turns out, having Trump is no longer enough. Trump is not enough because there is a movement beyond Trump now that does not listen to even Donald Trump, let alone Kevin McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Hakeem Jeffries has been able to unite the Democratic Party. We have as many factions as the Republicans. We've got radicals. We've got moderates. But the Democrats are cohesive, they are strong, and the Republican Party is falling apart as Kevin McCarthy falls in his face.

COATES: Mark, how do you see it? Is it the goat rodeo? I will tell you, it's a new phrase for me. How do you see it?


MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "THE CIRCUS": Well, the actual circus is coordinated, so this is way beyond the function of an (INAUDIBLE). But to Van's point, the thing that really strikes me is, you know, since the election, McCarthy has had time to put together (INAUDIBLE). It is really known for more than a year that Republicans will likely to take the House.

And so, it really confirms the point that Van made, which is that at the end of the day, it leads you to believe that maybe Republicans really are not really interested in governing. That is more about disruption. It's more about chaos. And you look at those 19 members, people, especially like Matt Gaetz, and I spent a lot of time covering for our show, "The Circus," and it's clear that it is all about performance, it's all about getting on television.

There is no real -- I've never had any sense from him or others of that caucus that they want to govern. They had no interest in making things better. They want this to be a disaster for the next two years for President Biden.

And again, just echoing Van's point, which I think is ironic, Democrats who are usually seen as disorganized, look at the transition of power from the party that did not have the speakership or the majority, a complete smooth transition from an older generation to a new generation of leadership, and the Republicans who have all the (INAUDIBLE) cannot shoot straight.

COATES: Just in the list of people who you put that graphic back up, of those who voted against McCarthy, it's now 20. And some of those include people who have just been recently elected, not even yet sworn in, because the rule, I believe, you can't be officially sworn in under oath until you have a speaker. That's another hurdle, ceremonial or otherwise, that has not been met, why you saw kids on the floor and family members, to your point, Van.

They are just thinking about the idea of, it seems to be, illusory negotiating. If what the concession that McCarthy has offered -- if they don't include, not you, McCarthy, it seems that the whole negotiation is fraught. [23:15:02]

COATES: But you have the experience in terms of trying to bridge this gap and bridge what seems to be two parties estranged fellows, getting something done. Is there a possibility that there is a course correction that actually would help the American electorate here?

JONES: You know, it's just hard to see. I mean, this is so unexpected. You know, as Ro Khanna was saying before, you know, people were thinking five votes, six votes, seven, you might be able to do something. When you have 19 and growing to 20, that is a different scenario.

And so, I think what you are going to see tomorrow, they are probably going to try this one more time. And then you got to start thinking about what are your alternatives.

Part of the problem here is that Kevin McCarthy has been so transparent that he just wants to be speaker at any cost. And when you are an empty suit in a hurricane, you get blown around. He (INAUDIBLE) himself before Donald Trump. He had no principles there. He looks like -- he spent the past year just looking like, I just want to be speaker no matter what.

That is not a strong position to lead. This country needs leadership. Both parties need leadership. He is not showing leadership. He has actually just shown that he just wants this job. It is not enough.

And so, I think what you are going to see going forward is that there may be some creative ideas. People have forgotten, you don't have to be a member of the House of Representatives to be the speaker of the House. So, they could go outside -- they could go get Newt Gingrich. They could go get whoever they wanted to, to come and solve this thing if they wanted to.

But I think that Kevin McCarthy's moment is passing. I think he is paying a price for being unprincipled, empty suit for the past year that he's been blown around in a hurricane.

COATES: Well, we are out of time. But you know what? The question is whether it is out of time for Kevin McCarthy. I was enjoying all the analogies, gentlemen. Circus to goat rodeo to now empty suit in a hurricane. I'm here for all of it. The question is, who will be here to actually hold the gavel? Thank you so much.

MCKINNON: Thank you.

JONES: We will see.

COATES: Now, whoever become speaker, and somebody will eventually become speaker, but whoever that new speaker is, he or she has just seen a clear demonstration of how difficult the job will be. We will talk about it next.




COATES: A chaotic day for Republicans on the Hill where, as you saw, Kevin McCarthy could not wrangle enough members of his own party to clinch the speakership. Multiply that times three, of course. It made Democrats all too happy to watch the dysfunction of the incoming GOP leadership. But with crucial votes looming, will they need someone they can work with across the aisle?

Joining me now, Kevin Madden, former top aide to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, also former Obama White House senior director Nayyera Haq, and Margaret Talev, director of the Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute at Syracuse University.

Well, listen, I'm sure you're all watching today and seeing what --


COATES: It was must-see TV and even some Democrats brought popcorn. You see this--

MADDEN: I saw it, yeah.

COATES: They were chewing it. I don't know if you want to --

MADDEN: You need a lot of popcorn tomorrow.

COATES: On that point -- I will start with you, Kevin, on this point, because I am wondering, how long does this really continue? I mean, Kevin McCarthy could make decision, right? But I was actually surprised that Democrats agreed to even adjourn as oppose to sit back and say, hey, why don't you keep going? What happens next?

MADDEN: I don't think they want their families to sit through that any longer than they had to. But, you know, the thing is that there is an air of inevitability here, I think, and what is going to happen, which is inevitable, is that McCarthy could start to believe votes.

The thing that never gets better with these, the trendline always starts to move away from the person who is trying to count the votes versus towards them.

So, when McCarthy tomorrow starts to possibly lose, go from 20 to 23, to maybe 30, somebody is going to come to him, whether it is, you know, Pete Sessions or somebody else who is supportive of him and say, we've got to go with another candidate, we've got to have a default option here. And so, that is where you will start to see, you know, real conversation starts to take place about -- so, next person up.

COATES: Who is that?

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: It's really interesting to hear Congressman Pete Sessions, not have that name, talk about the other side. You know, we need to get together and figure out who we are here for and not who we are against, and talk about his own party, right?

The other side was not Democrats in this case. Democrats are sitting around and thinking, not my circus, not my monkeys. They are going to watch. And as this goes on, this continues to play into Biden's hands and, frankly, into Democrats' narrative that the Republican Party is in chaos.

COATES: And on that point, I want to play for you and it goes to your point about not my circus. It was congressman who, of course, is the minority leader, Jeffries, talking about how they are looking for a willing partner. They are not bailing anybody out.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction. We have not had any outreach from republican leadership or individuals on the other side of the aisle with respect to the chaos crisis and confusion that we saw unfold before the American people today.


COATES: So, what do you think about that? I mean, the idea that not being a circus -- are they even approaching this in the right way? Yeah, they could extend an olive branch or throw out a life preserver, but why?

HAQ: They've also had years and years of Pelosi, who never let a vote go to the floor until they knew they had the votes. It's -- that's also about the other side of the aisle making sure you are not wasting anyone's time with parliamentary procedure when you should know better.

What is the rest of the republican leadership doing right now? Are they effectively helping McCarthy with his ego? Are they -- how is this going to actually lead to something that is a governable caucus? The challenge being, these insurgents in the Republican Party are not interested in governing.


HAQ: They come from a tradition that is antiestablishment, burn the house down, and that is what they are doing to their own party.

COATES: By the way, Congressman (INAUDIBLE) is referring it now as Taliban 20. That's the phrasing that is now happening.

MADDEN: That's not going to help change any minds.

COATES: Yeah. Go ahead.

MARGARET TALEV, DIRECTOR OF DEMOCRACY, JOURNALISM AND CITIZENSHIP INSTITUTE AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: I just want to say, I think for Democrats, the calculation is twofold. On the one hand, the golden rule in politics is, when the other side is messing up, just get out of the way.

MADDEN: A Boehner quote.

TALEV: Right.

MADDEN: Boehner had a quote. He said, when your opponents are -- is going to jump off of a bridge, whatever you do, don't push him.


MADDEM: Let him jump.

TALEV: So, for Democrats, you know, number one is to get out of the way and let them self-destruct. But the second one is that Kevin McCarthy is not someone they see as a governing partner. Kevin McCarthy for split-second on January 6th or after January 6th was ready to hold Donald Trump accountable until he realized it could cost him the speakership where he did not have enough of his caucus with him, and then he stepped back.

So, would Democrats rather have Kevin McCarthy as speaker than Jim Jordan as speaker? I don't know. I guess so. But --

COATES: Jordan don't want to be speaker, though. He wants to be the head of the House Judiciary Committee.

TALEV: Everybody wants to have the votes to be speaker. Nobody actually wants to be speaker. I'm not even sure that Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker at this point. But I think whether he emerges or -- you are asking, if not Kevin McCarthy, then who? I think we have all day to watch this play out.

Steve Scalise still seems like the most obvious kind of fallback position. The question from McCarthy is, at what point does the tipping point come? And is he then in a power sharing agreement or is he is just out? And how fast can Republicans land the plane? In the Civil War era, we know that there was actually too much protracted fight for the next speaker to ascend, two months.

But you cannot imagine 2023 in the modern era. That happening in the middle of inflation, Russia's war on Ukraine, concerns about China, plus Republicans agenda. They want to start their investigation on Hunter Biden. Two months is unimaginable. Two weeks is unimaginable.

COATES: And two months from now, we might have more contenders hoping to be the GOP nominee for their 2024 race coming up, which I know is always the enticing carrot at the end of any of these sticks.

Everyone, stick around. The GOP is certainly a House divided right now but it's not even a divide of just two camps. There are actually five. I'm going to explain, next.




COATES: The House is adjourned until noon tomorrow. This after Republican members went to three ballots without electing a speaker. It marks the first time that voting has gone multiple rounds in 100 years, people. What does it say about the future of the GOP?

Back with me now, Kevin Madden, Nayyera Haq, and Margaret Talev. I mean, first of all, just think about where we are right now. It is not an enticing job. We'll say that for any (INAUDIBLE) in the House. It's a lot of work. It is probably not particularly gratifying although the speaker title adds (INAUDIBLE).

However, Kevin McCarthy is up against not just 19 people or 20 people at this point. It is a so-called five families happening right now. CNN's Melanie Zanona and Lauren Fox were actually reporting that there are -- quote -- "these five families in the GOP that McCarthy has had to (INAUDIBLE) with."

You got different ideologies. You got the Republican Study Committee, Main Street Caucus, Problem Solvers, Freedom Caucus, GOP Governance Group. There are probably some more. It is not as if the Democrats don't have their own spectrum within their party. But just look at that, Kevin, and think about what he is up against to try to placate, to give concessions to.


COATES: It is a losing battle.

MADDEN: Well, it's not new, you know, and that is one of the things about the House of Representatives, the minority -- managing minority factions within your conference or in your caucus is not a new thing. It is part of the job.

I think the real problem here is that since 2016, since the ascension of Trump and the MAGA element inside of the party, McCarthy and other Republican leaders I think across the country, even in state parties, have had to really try and placate this -- the folks that sort of represent the House Freedom Caucus element and placating them.

They've actually given them agency to -- and more leverage to dictate whether or not the party and what direction the party wants to go. So, a lot of that has basically now come back to -- he is reaping what he sowed. Many of these Republican leaders are reaping what they sowed.

And they have to have an energized caucus, an energized faction within their conference who feels empowered, and they aren't going to be dictated to buy leadership. And that same point, he needs their votes to become speaker. And they do not feel the need to sort of play ball with him. They feel empowered to do what they want to do. So, it is really sort of slingshot back on them.

COATES: By the way, it took all they have not to do a godfather voice right now. I almost put cotton balls in my mouth, had the whole effect, I'm not going to do it here. But I tell you what, there is a part that really sticks out. As you mentioned -- Nayyera, you mentioned this. One of the things talking about having more agency as the sort of rank-and-file members. That was one of the concessions that McCarthy wanted to make.

They say, look, it's not just leadership who gets to abuse amendments in the like. Everybody wants to have a piece of the pie.


COATES: These are not things -- if McCarthy is not the person to be speaker, they don't have to agree to any longer. It starts all over again.

HAQ: It used to be that we would say that Democrats, it is like herding cats. Democrats have to fall in love with an issue but Republicans always fall in line. And that has really flipped on its head now with this latest generation and crop of Republicans in Congress where that herding cat experience is not there.

Kevin McCarthy may have had a tangle of leader of the GOP, but he does follow Donald Trump. Constant (INAUDIBLE) chase, what that aspect on that, what that individual want. And it is sad to see him talking today about how he has the support of the former president, but the former president himself has not come up to say that or help rescue him. And many of the people he tried to appease along the time of Trump's presidency are also turning on him.

It is one of the lessons of history that applies to world war, applies to politics as well. Appeasement does not work. But I will also say, people want a leader. They want somebody who will bring them forward. And going back and forth, not being able to develop consensus over the years, to be -- have somebody else of the party as the leader has been a problem for Kevin McCarthy all along.

COATES: Margaret, can you give away the keys to the castle and still have the respect to be viewed as a leader?

TALEV: You need to be able to govern with some degree of fear for people to fall in line and with an authority. I think Nancy Pelosi managed to do it with a very, very slim democratic majority these last couple of years.

McCarthy is in a different position partly because of his own making. What you are talking about is right, the five families are all over the map. Try to take the Problem Solvers or the Main Street Caucus and find a place where they meet in the middle with the Freedom Caucus, and good luck, it is not there.

But beyond that, some of this is just baked into the cake. McCarthy, over a period of several years, as he has wanted to find the right path to the ascent to the speakership, had some choices (INAUDIBLE) did he primary Republicans in some of these really deep red districts to try to get people who wanted to make policy instead of just people who are provocateurs or people who want to, you know, drain the swamp except for their own negotiations to which they would like to be relevant.

And he chose to kind of go along, to get along, and now he is paying the price for it.

MADDEN: He has smaller margins. And the other thing, too, is that that element inside the party, they are just less -- they don't have the gravitational pull towards governing as much as they have a gravitational pull towards confronting the establishment. And so, that has created a very big problem for him.

And it just doesn't have the same sort of ability to really drop the hammer down, to use a nickname from my old boss, Tom DeLay (ph), and make things happen and move votes in big chunks because of the margins and because they just don't respond in the same sentence.

HAQ: Really quick, to make Republicans miss Pelosi, just for the fact that people could've been sworn in today. To that degree, the efficiency of being able to manage and move on with governing. But the challenge that he is going to continue to have or any Republican Party is going to have is that typically when you are in the -- you only have one chamber, it is the unified message that you can send against the white house that helps you break through. They are already starting off the new year without any --

MADDEN: And this is so important.

HAQ: This is going to be the blame game Olympics for the next year and it is wide open for the Democrats and Joe Biden to be running on a record of what they will call success for two years, and now seeing a party that does not have a coherent message heading into a presidential.

MADDEN: To your point, the real power the speakership is two things. First, the constitutionality of it, right? And then the second is that you basically speak for a majority body, right, inside the House of Representatives.

And when you have -- when you go into the negotiations with the White House or even against the senate, right, because the old saying in the House is that the Democrats are the opposition but the Senate is the enemy, you just do not have that leverage now. And so, whoever becomes speaker is going to be severely reduced.

COATES: We will see.

TALEV: When you see Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell tomorrow standing together while Kevin McCarthy is trying to buy chick-fil-a and bring his caucus together, it's -- that contrast will say it all.

COATES: I don't know why we have to bring chick-fil-a into it. But Margaret, okay, that's fine, I hear you. Thank you, everyone. Nice talking to you and hearing your insights particularly tonight. We'll start all over again shortly tomorrow.

Listen, everyone, there are people right now in Damar Hamlin's hometown who are waiting for any answers about the health of the Buffalo Bills player who is in critical condition after collapsing on the field last night. Next, someone who knows Hamlin's family well, and all that he has done to help his community in and out of that uniform.




COATES: Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is still sedated after having to be resuscitated twice on Monday after collapsing on the field during last night's game. That is according to his uncle.

Hamlin has become a community leader in the small town of McKees Rocks in Stowe Township just outside of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Sto-Rox. He has run Christmas toy drives for the community for the last three years, even starting a GoFundMe to help give back. His starting goal for the fundraise that established back in 2020, a mere $2,500. And fans from across the world have poured in donations. Tonight, that GoFundMe is nearly at $6 million.


COATES: Joining me now, Cameron Culliver, who is the Sto-Rox school board president and the president of the Sto-Rox Youth Football Organization. Cameron, thank you for being with us tonight.

You know, we've been talking about what happened to him, but tell me about him. You've known his family for years. Tell me about this young man.

CAMERON CULLIVER, STO-ROX SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT: Yes, that's correct. Thanks for having me. I've known Damar for a long time. You know, majority of my life. I grew up with his family. So, just knowing -- knowing Damar -- we used to call him Mar-Mar growing up. This resilient kid that runs around the neighborhood.

In the younger years and now to the older years, just seeing how he is and how he wants to give back to his communitym, constantly never forgetting where he come from, Damar Hamlin, he really embodies what Sto-Rox is in many ways. Again, just being resilient and not forgetting where he come from.

COATES: Tell me about the community of Sto-Rox because part of the reason it was so close to him and continues to be so close his heart is the community, is giving back to the young people in particular. I know his parents are also a part of the community. They were at the game last night. Tell me about the community of Sto-Rox as to where he does come from.

CULLIVER: Yes. So, thanks for asking. Sto-Rox School District, we are one of the most underfunded districts in western Pennsylvania. That being said, that should give you a perspective in general about how, you know, we try to make things work, try to provide opportunities for the youth and the community in general that kind of growing up and just going throughout.

So, Damar comes from that, you know, where it's not necessarily struggles, but at the same time, you know, everything is not given to you. So, you really have to work for what you get.

COATES: We even heard earlier from coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, obviously, and he was speaking about the fact that he is from Pittsburgh and what that meant, a community just outside of it, and resilience and the wherewithal. Talk to me about what the community has been dealing with and responding to what really at this point the world watched last night. How is the community reacting to what has happened to him?

CULLIVER: There is a lot of prayer, a lot a lot of love. You know, a lot of the unknown, what's going on, right? In respect for the family, they are patiently praying for Damar. Damar is one of those kids that we look to -- you know, most the people in our community, they look to Damar as a figure. He's someone they want to be when they grow up. Not just as an NFL player but just Damar. He had a dream, chase the dream. He's living the dream right now. He is showing these kids that there's no dream too big or too small.

And these kids, it's funny, because these kids, they want to be Damar Hamlin for Halloween. So, that's the kind of person that Damar is and what he means to the community.

COATES: That's unbelievable to think about. I will tell you, the power of what one person can do to really arrest us all and stop us in our tracks and pay attention to the person, the human being, the person who has been a community leader and continues to give back, we're all thinking about him. And now, I know more about Sto-Rox, the committee that you come from as well. We'll be looking for that. We'll be right back.




COATES: Bryan Kohberger will soon be moved from Pennsylvania and handed over to the custody of authorities in Idaho to face murder charges in the stabbing death of four University of Idaho students. Today, in court, he waived extradition. Here's CNN's Veronica Miracle.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bryan Kohberger cuffed, shackled, wearing a prirson jumpsuit, arriving at a Pennsylvania courthouse just days after being charged with murdering four University of Idaho students in mid-November.

Kohberger was escorted from a holding cell into the courtroom, confirming he's waving extradition, has no mental health issues that would affect the transfer, and agreeing to be transported to Idaho.

Kohberger's family in the courtroom crying as he turned several times and made eye contact with them. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary in the stabbing deaths of Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen, and Kaylee Goncalves. COL. ROBERT EVANCHICK, COMMISSIONER, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: Arrangements currently are being made to deliver Kohberger back to Idaho, where he can have continued due process and face these charges.

MIRACLE (voice-over): And where he can access information about the evidence against him. Idaho does not release the documents supporting an arrest warrant until the defendant returns to the state.

MIKE MANCUSO, FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MONROE COUNTY, PA: I definitely believe that one of the main reasons the defendant chose to waive extradition and hurry his return back to Idaho was the need to know what was in those documents.

JASON LABAR, PUBLIC DEFENDER, MONROE COUNTY, PA: He said this is not him. He believes he is going to be exonerated. That's what he believes. Those were his words.

MIRACLE (voice-over): University of Idaho assistant law professor Samuel Newton tells CNN there is still a long road to trial.

SAMUEL NEWTON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO: The government has to put on evidence to support its charge, to show there is enough -- there is probable cause to arrest and charge him of those crimes.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Kaylee's father says he plans to be in court at some point when Kohberger returns to Idaho.

STEVEN GONCALVES, FATHER OF VICTIM: We're going to definitely look this guy -- look him in his eyes. He's going to have to deal with this. He has been dealing with this for seven weeks. It is not about to end.

MIRACLE (voice-over): It will be up to the local prosecutor to decide whether Kohberger will face the death penalty.

NEWTON: The victims were blameless, sleeping in a vulnerable position. The crime is particularly brutal. Multiple victims.


NEWTON: So, I think there are many bases for a prosecutor to say, I can charge this as aggravated murder.

MIRACLE (voice-over): A death penalty case adds additional procedures to a murder prosecution that could take decades. For many living in the communities at both the University and Idaho and Washington State University, there is some relief a suspect is now in custody.

SHELLEY MCGUIRE, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO FACULTY: Imagine living and this has been like living in a murder mystery right in the middle of it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): A mystery that is far from over.

(On camera): Now that Kohberger is cleared for extradition, police say they have 10 days to get him back here. And once he is back in the state of Idaho, that's when the probable cause affidavit should be unsealed, which will tell us exactly why Kohberger was arrested. Laura?


COATES: Veronica, thank you so much. And thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.