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CNN Tonight

House About To Reconvene As Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Moves Closer To A Win; 4th Vote For House Speaker Underway; Ongoing 14th Voting For Kevin McCarthy's Speakership; Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) Is Interviewed About The Ongoing Voting On The Speakership On The House Floor; Matt Gaetz's Crucial Vote For Kevin McCarthy's Speakership. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 06, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they're jamming it through for a reason because this is a very tenuous political moment for Kevin McCarthy.

And if, in fact, they were to delay this, I mean, he's got momentum on the one side, the ball is rolling with those on the right, he knows that perhaps some of these things are going to be frustrating for members who are more to the center of his conference as time wears on, but, frankly, you know, they've stood with him so far. They're angry as all hell, frankly, at these more conservative or chaotic members of their conference who have put us in this position, but they honestly can't afford to wait around, let this come out and potentially risk not being able to get a set of rules to govern the conference going forward.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of transparency, Jamie Gangel, what about the fact that we've had so much transparency because we haven't been in legislative business so the C-Span cameramen and women have been able to shoot anything they want as supposed to the government seizing control and controlling what we get to see in the name transparency, which is this new Congress stands for. Are they going to allow the C-Span cameramen and women to continue to show what's going on the floor of the people's House?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, you've had too much coffee.

HUNT: I know. Where does your energy come from? Can I have a little, right?

TAPPER: I'm just taking these people at their word. That's clearly what I am doing.

GANGEL: Big finish, Jake. Look, I just want to say one thing that I would like in the rules package, not that I get a vote. I want the C- Span cameras to stay --


HUNT: I think we all do. America does.

GANGEL: -- just this way. I salute C-Span this week. It's been spectacular. But to your point about transparency, are we shocked, shocked, shocked that we don't know what the concessions are or what it's going to be? That is the epitome of what's been going on all this week. And it's -- it's not just that this group of 20 plus 1 present, the chaos caucus, has held everybody hostage and Kevin McCarthy hostage but it's going to go on. The legacy will endure.

TAPPER: So, the clerk just called the House to be in order and there's going to be a prayer. John King, apparently, CNN reporters say that Congressman Scott Perry, who's one of these rebels, although he's one of the 15 who flipped earlier today, just walked into Speaker Designate McCarthy's office, as Matt Gaetz now calls him, and said, nothing is over until it's over, nothing is done until it's done, something along those lines.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The hardliners are -- some of them, Matt Gaetz, has suddenly become a comic and arguing with himself, I guess, now or debating himself. Now, Scott Perry, who changed his vote earlier, is saying it's not done until it's done. They want to see it. They changed their votes early because they said McCarthy was negotiating in good faith and they said this is a reward for the good faith, now we want to see it in writing.

As we wait to watch this play out, I'm just incredibly struck and I can't find the word for it, so please help me. Is it irony, is it karma? It's just eerie to me, two years ago tonight in this very hour, in this very hour, Kevin McCarthy was fighting after the insurrection in a House chamber where the damage was still visible.

He and both of his deputies, Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise, and a 100-plus more of the House Republicans in that chamber, who tonight apparently are going to make him speaker, were fighting to overturn the election even after the insurrection. Even after the insurrection, they were in that very chamber two years ago tonight in this hour trying to help Donald Trump steal an election.

TAPPER: Scott Perry was (INAUDIBLE) to undermine the voters of his own commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

KING: And if Kevin McCarthy finally gets there tonight after 14 ballots, he gets something he's been fighting for for two decades, then next month or in March, one of the things they have to -- first, they have to have a House before they can invite the president for a State of the Union speech. In a few weeks we're going to see Kevin McCarthy sitting behind President Biden in the very chamber where he again tried to steal the election for Donald Trump and denied Joe Biden's inauguration.

So, this is historic, this is a career achievement for Kevin McCarthy if he finally gets to the finish line here. But, man, this onion has a lot of layers.

TAPPER: What an ugly -- HUNT: You know what? He enabled this too. I just don't think we should lose sight of that. He enabled this group of members of Congress who have stood in his way by then, two or so weeks later, going down to Mar-a-Lago and standing with the former president, Donald Trump, and taking that photo. I mean, that sent the message to this group of people and others like them that there are no consequences for doing things like what happened on January 6th.

And, you know, the moderate members of the conference have been saying, you know, it's time to stand up to these people. It's look like what's happened is that McCarthy has folded again to get the votes.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think that Kevin McCarthy, when he went down to Mar-a-Lago after January 6th, was rehabilitating Trump, as a lot of people have described it. I think he was rehabilitating himself. He was -- remember, he had condemned Trump by saying that he had responsibility for what happened January 6th.


But he wanted to be in that speaker's chair so badly that he needed to get good with this part of --

TAPPER: I'm sorry to interrupt but we're going to be hearing the nominating for Kevin McCarthy.

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): I come to rise tonight to nominate my good friend, the gentleman from California Kevin McCarthy, to serve as speaker of the House.

CHERYL JOHNSON, CLERK OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE: The gentleman will suspend. The gentleman will suspend.

The gentleman will suspend. The question recurs upon the election of a speaker and the tellers will please come forward and take their and take their seats.

TAPPER: I'm not sure why there's a pause in the room right now. I think they're waiting for a quorum.

KING: He skipped a step. She needed to get the tellers --

TAPPER: Oh, they needed to get the tellers up to the room. Abby, I'm sorry. Can you finish the point you were making about Kevin McCarthy rehabilitating himself?

PHILLIP: McCarthy really wanted this job so badly that he really needed to get in with the Trump crowd. And he did so by going down there, proverbially kissing the ring and trying again to kind of re- establish himself with this wing. I think this is culmination of that.

TAPPER: All right, let's listen.

MCHENRY: I'm honored to rise tonight to nominate my good friend, the gentleman from California, Kevin McCarthy, to serve as speaker of this House.

Madam Clerk, it's been a long week and a lot of attention has been placed upon us here in the House. But then again I state that to the most famous woman in Washington this week. It was a better joke as written actually than delivered.

But I want to start by thanking the men and women who make this House run from the janitorial staff to the parliamentarians, to the door keepers, to the sergeant of arms, to the Capitol police officers, to the men and women that make this institution run, we thank you.

And on this day and a source of charity, we unite the Capitol press corps for sitting on floors. That too is actually funnier on the paper than how it's delivered. I don't know why you asked me to do this, Kevin.

Look, the president has called this process an embarrassment. Talking heads have labeled this chaos and a mess and some would call it shambolic even. But it's called democracy, and this is a hallmark of a free society where every voice and every vote counts.

We know it's messy -- we know it's messy but open and transparent debate is what sets us apart from authoritarian regimes. And in order to outcompete our adversaries, we must adhere to the principles that make our nation, this nation, our constitutional republic, great. And that starts with a free and open exchange of ideas. And that's exactly what we've done this week.

To some, it may have felt like Congress was on hold, but the alternative, a government that assembles with no input from the representatives elected by the people is a far worse alternative. In these constitutional principles we're adhering to in this complicated process of setting up the House.

Over these last few days Kevin McCarthy has allowed this process to work among House Republicans.


And he's empowered members to come together to find consensus on behalf of conservative policy and a greater involvement of all voices throughout our conference. We've all played a part. We have all played a part, whether it's the dean or members who have just been waiting for four days and voting loyally.

It's Kevin's leadership style, a leadership style that's been lacking in the institution for too long. It's the same style Kevin employed with each of us as we developed our policy proposal, a commitment to America, a plan that works to secure our border and stop the flow of fentanyl into our communities, to give Chairman Comer and Chairman Jordan the tools they need to hold the Biden administration accountable for their failures and to take China on and end the president's COVID emergency powers that have been abused far too many times, to finally reopen the people's House, empower outstanding committees and get people back to regular order here on the House floor, and countless other conservative solutions that are very powerful and good for constituents in Bakersville or Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Madam clerk, I am one of the few members left on the Republican side who had the pleasure of serving with Kevin for the entirety of the same year in the House. In those years, I've worked closely with Kevin in a variety of different capacities. And, well, he's a good friend. But serving with him in these capacities has meant that I've heard every one of his stories. And the stories of Kevin knows daily I've heard way too many times.

I don't know if you've heard that he won the lottery as well. Those stories I can recount them chapter and verse. He's a dear friend. But all of you have heard these stories, too. And it's also by my seat able to watch him on a front row seat as he's grown as a leader and especially this week how he's grown as a leader.

He knows more about members than they know about themselves. If your spouse is sick, he may send flowers or fruit before you're -- actually I did, actually in that story, but he cares so much about members not for politics but because he cares about people. He's unflinchingly optimistic. The glass is always half full. That's been a hell of a trait especially this week. He's relentless. The man does not quit.

And it was Kevin that led Republicans back to the majority in this House, the only Republican institution in Washington this day. And Kevin has led us through these challenges the last few days. And Kevin is the right person to lead us over the coming two years. And that's why at the direction of the Republican conference, I advance the name of Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

JOHNSON: For what purpose does the gentleman from California rise?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Madam Clerk, I rise to nominate Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the House.


JOHNSON: The gentleman is recognized.

AGUILAR: House Democrats are united behind the son of a social worker and substance abuse counselor, a leader who is deeply involved in his community and a tireless advocate for the least, the lost, and the left behind. He is a voice for the people. And, Madam Clerk, this is the people's House.

Two years ago today, duly elected members of this body gathered here to certify the results of a free and fair election. And in doing so, we participated in a tradition that makes our democracy a marvel and the envy of the world, a peaceful transfer of power.

But this body is more than a ceremonial chamber, Madam Clerk. This is a workplace where hundreds of men and women endure long, difficult hours before they punch out and go home to their families, where good people come to work each day and maybe steal a quiet moment to themselves to look up at the ceiling or to look at the paintings, the statue of Abraham Lincoln and to thank God for the blessings of liberty because this place is so much more than a chamber or even a workplace. It is in Lincoln's words a sign we intend the union shall go on.

And I'm not just talking about the members either, Madam Clerk. I'm talking about you and your staff, the custodial staff, the floor staff, the institutional staff, our congressional staff, the sergeant at arms, our beloved chaplain, and the Capitol police. I'm talking about the people who make this House work, the people who Hakeem Jeffries will never take for granted.

Two years ago, Madam Clerk, we witnessed this place under siege by a violent mob who desecrated this building and the other chamber, but this feels a little familiar. Today, we adjourned amidst utter confusion. Only this time we're returning in the dark of night not to cast a vote to bring this country together and to do our jobs but one that will set the path toward division and default.

So, if we are forced to be here this evening because of the chaos and crisis on the other side, it's only fair to point out, Madam Clerk, that the same individuals who fanned the flames of January 6th, who told their followers and their followers' followers that they needed to fight back and who challenged the swearing in of members based on a bogus claim of fake electors may well be in charge of the people's House if they can ever agree on who can lead them.

JOHNSON: Will the House be in order?

AGUILAR: That's why House Democrats stand united behind Hakeem Jeffries. Hakeem is the only candidate in this race for speaker who will defend this democracy. He's the only candidate in this race willing to call out the lie that the election was stolen and he's the only candidate in this race who thinks that everyone involved on January 6th ought to be held accountable regardless of the positions they hold in power.

For justice and truth and in memory of the lives lost on January 6th, I nominate Hakeem Jeffries for speaker of the House.


JOHNSON: The reading clerk will call the roll.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The voting is beginning. This is the 14th round. And here we are, David.


BURNETT: We're going to be listening, of course, to every single name and we're going to specifically Biggs, Boebert, Crane, Gaetz, Good, Rosendale. These are the crucial six that we are listening for.

URBAN: Yes. I said this earlier. I think they're going to all, six, vote for Kevin McCarthy. That's my call. We'll see if I'm right or wrong here shortly.

BURNETT: You're not going for a present? URBAN: I'm not going for present. I think they're going to vote for him. I think that you heard Jake's earlier commentary about Gaetz. And I think if Gaetz jumps, they all jump.

And, by the way, of the 14 nominating speeches, I just want to say that John James did the best.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was great. I'm partial to Comer, as you know.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we will wait until the end to vote on our favorite nominee.

URBAN: We vote present.

BURNETT: Because you don't know that that has been flying around.

JENNINGS: While we wait for some of these key people to come up, a word of praise for Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. If you're Kevin McCarthy, I think his work behind the scenes this week, his steadfast loyalty, it's been -- you know, he's been right there in a rock for McCarthy.

So, the fact that he delivered the nominating speech winning speech that's going to be on probably the winning ballot here is not insignificant. And as this Congress rolls on, I think you'll see McHenry in the background there as one of McCarthy's tee guys.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean, certainly, that was a pivotal position for the person who got this 14th round nomination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And he did soldier on through a couple of jokes, as he admitted, that just did not play so well in the room as many --

BURNETT: He had the self-awareness to realize that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I've got to give that to him. I mean, look, we'll see if this is indeed the final round of voting. And we will see --

BURNETT: All right, so we're about to come up here to Mr. Biggs. Let's listen.


Biggs. Biggs, Jordan.

URBAN: Well, there goes my theory.


BURNETT: Okay, hold on. Let's just listen. Boebert is going to come up here. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bishop of Georgia, Jeffries. Bishop of North Carolina, McCarthy.

Blumenauer, Jeffries.

BURNETT: It's going to be Lisa Blunt and then it's going to come to Lauren Boebert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blunt Rochester, Jeffries.

Boebert, present.

BURNETT: Present, there you go. That's your first --

URBAN: I'm 0 for 2.

BURNETT: And you hear the round of applause.

AXELROD: This was going to be the play -- this was the play that was established when Nancy Pelosi ran under similar circumstances, not this kind of thing but she had a very small margin in the House and there were people who ran in tough districts who said they wouldn't vote for her for speak. Two of them voted present. That allowed her to reduce the threshold and she won with 216 votes. So, this is a playbook that's been worked before and, obviously, once they got close, this is where they were going.

BURNETT: Now, there're still a couple paths, John, that you could go from here. Obviously, watching Elijah Crane, Rosendale, Matt Gaetz, you know, JAKE pointing out, already referring to him as speaker designate. So, we don't know what's going to happen from here, but that was a crucial vote.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was. Look, I mean, I think Boebert voting present is a concession. A little surprising that Biggs, however, he went out of the gate as his chief opponent voting Jordan. But that's why you've got to really pay attention to Gaetz in particular and Crane. We're going to know a lot when those two names come up.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think we've seen a note that Boebert maybe was going to potentially go present. We've also seen Gaetz tip his hat. Maybe he will go present as well, as Boebert did, and so that not really puts the focus on Good, Rosendale and Crane. Crane is coming up.

JENNINGS: Crane was one that we hadn't been talking about all at the beginning of the week. He is the new member from Arizona, a Navy SEAL.


No one, he wasn't on anyone's radar, and then throughout the week had emerged as one of these problem children for McCarthy.

BURNETT: It is interesting in this conversation that we're kind getting to a point and we'll see what Gaetz does. But when Boebert and Gaetz who were the never, never, maybe the two who actually seen to be moving more --

URBAN: And Crane had some interviews recently where he said, I don't think I'm against McCarthy. This isn't a personal thing. This is -- I made a pledge to my constituents before I got elected. So, he does not have the animus that Biggs or some of these other folks did it personally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a hard thing to say because is there anybody really believe that anybody in his district actually knows who Kevin McCarthy is? Maybe ten but not enough to actually swing his own election.

AXELROD: Let me say one thing about Boebert. I don't know what transpired over the last few hours, but I do know this. She had a very, very close race for Congress, barely got re-elected. She's going to need help in 2024.

And one thing Kevin McCarthy can provide is financial help for her campaign. And he didn't do it in his last campaign through his super PAC. Perhaps that was an understanding.

JENNINGS: Interesting question is on some of these folks who voted Jordan or present or whatever the main holdouts, do they then turn around and vote yes on the rules pack later tonight after McCarthy gets the speakership? We'll see -- I assume they will because they're out touting how good it is.

BURNETT: And already clear there's a real opposition to that. As we're getting ready for Elijah Crane, he's going to be the next of this crucial group to listen. Jake, we're waiting for Crane and then it will be Gaetz.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, that's why I'm here.

BURNETT: I'm glad to hear that. Jake.

URBAN: One of the things --


TAPPER: Oh, I'm sorry. Okay, I didn't know you were throwing it to us. We're doing the same thing you are. We're just watching to see if the people who flipped are sticking with him and if the people who have been holdouts are showing any give.

And as you note, Lauren Boebert voted present, which means that the threshold goes down from 218 votes that Kevin McCarthy needs to win down to 217, which means all he needs to do is flip one more person or get two of the holdouts to go present. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Can I make a short observation? What strikes me is how we started this week with Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday that closed-door meeting kind of full-blown aggressive, talking about how he deserved this job, he had earned it, Mike Rogers now threatening to remove people who voted against him their committees. We ended it with him negotiating and giving people what they wanted. I'm sure Lauren Boebert got something for that present vote that she just had there. The change in tactic of where he was on Tuesday to where he is now stands out to me.

TAPPER: Well, I have to say he'd been giving up a lot before that, too. I mean, it wasn't like he hadn't acquiesce of giving everybody --

COLLINS: But Tuesday was this really aggressive approach, it kind of cemented people like Lauren Boebert against him. Things have really changed.

TAPPER: Hold on one second.

HUNT: I think it was a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courtney, Jeffries.

TAPPER: We're waiting for Eli Crane after this one.


TAPPER: Biggs. So, Andy, Eli Crane still a holdout. So, that's not a present and it's not a flip. So, that's two of the seven -- two of the six rather who are not playing ball.

HUNT: So, now were back to this math of McCarthy to lose four, right?

KING: So, that means two presents or get a positive vote for one of the holdouts.

TAPPER: Yes. There are three left, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good and Matt Rosendale. Kevin McCarthy needs one of them to vote for him or two of them to vote present.

PHILLIP: And given that Lauren -- I mean, not that Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz are interchangeable, but they did make their joint appearance tonight to kind of raise the deal that was made. So, we'll be watching, I think, of all people, Matt Gaetz to see what he does with that, whether he votes present or votes for McCarthy as their way of taking a victory lap.

Because I think what they're trying to do especially the ring leaders of this, of which Matt Gaetz has won, is to turn this around as a victory. But I think we should be clear, their objective was to prevent McCarthy from becoming speaker at all costs. They have lost on that front. And so I think they're trying to take the concessions and say, well, we got something but that's not what they wanted. They were very clear about that. What they wanted is not -- Matt Gaetz said pretty much pointblank there is nothing that McCarthy can do. He has to step aside. Lauren Boebert said the same thing. McCarthy is likely to become speaker, and I think that they are in this moment trying to turn that around.

TAPPER: But other people said it, too, that flipped earlier in a day. Bishop said it. He said, you know, he would never vote for Kevin McCarthy. I mean, others of them have said that and flipped. [22:30:03]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But you know, as you guys are talking about that, especially what you just said, I was just thinking about the fact that when that meeting happened that you were referring to, Kaitlan, so many of the Republicans which make up the vast majority of the House Republican Conference, were cheering McCarthy because they like the idea that finally he was standing up to this small squad of people.

And yet here we are at the end and I just wonder how many of them still feel as emboldened as they thought that they would if they got to this final point, meaning how much -- how much blood did they have to lose of their sort of moral ideal of pushing back against this group in order to get (inaudible)

TAPPER: One of the things we -- but one of the things -- one of the things we've learned about this era and this brand of politics, though, is that frequently it's just about the next 10 minutes. It's not about the long-term. It's not about the game for what's going to happen in an hour -- I'm sorry, in a year. It is about the hour. It's not about the year.

So right now, as a former Republican leader said to me right now, it's all about Rosendale unless Gaetz steals the moment. In other words --


TAPPER: In other words -- in other words, there is a moment now for a hero to emerge among republicans. Will it be Rosendale or might Matt Gaetz actually stand out and vote for Kevin McCarthy and get a huge ovation and that puts him over the top and that's the end of that. And a lot of these guys they like attention.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: All of it -- yes, Matt Gaetz most of all, quite frankly.


HUNT: And then he gets to go on all of the shows and say he was the person who handed Kevin McCarthy the gavel, which I'm sure Kevin McCarthy would just love.

TAPPER: Because he got everything he wanted.

UNKNOWN: After putting him in a straitjacket.

TAPPER: Because they're saying, yes. Because after all this (inaudible) and now I'm as powerful as the speaker.

HUNT: As the speaker, which will not be true, just for the record.


TAPPER: All right, guys, let's listen in because Gaetz is coming in up here. We've got one, two, three until Gaetz. (LIVE VIDEO)


UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).

UNKNOWN: McCarthy.

UNKNOWN: Fulcher?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

UNKNOWN: McCarthy.

UNKNOWN: Gaetz? Gaetz? Gallagher?

UNKNOWN: McCarthy. Gallego?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).

UNKNOWN: Jeffries. Garamendi?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).

UNKNOWN: Jeffries.


BASH: -- he was making about the meeting that happened earlier this week.

It seems very clear to me McCarthy's significant strategic mistake on the part of the McCarthy camp to have gone into that conference meeting and handled it the way they did because they, I think, suspected or perhaps even knew they were likely to lose the first ballot for the speaker's election when it started.

I did not -- I never got the sense they felt like it would be this prolonged. And what that seemed to have done was agitate Chip Roy and all these others who then held out to now this 14th ballot, and yes, they were the ones we were talking about this all week, that were willing to actually get in a room and talk because they did have things that they really wanted.

But that moment where McCarthy was confrontational, his team was confrontational really seemed to have animated them in a way that was unexpected. And so, right, it's interesting to me or I would be interested to see how much that hangover --

TAPPER: Let's listen in because we got Bob Good coming on.


UNKNOWN: Jordan?

TAPPER: (Inaudible) for Jordan. So that's it. We're waiting for Matt Gaetz to weigh in for the --

UNKNOWN: Gaetz and Rosendale, either --

TAPPER: Gaetz and Rosendale. I'm waiting for Rosendale who's in a -- who's going to be several minutes away.

HUNT: If they both vote present or if one of them votes for McCarthy, then McCarthy has this.

TAPPER: Adam Kinzinger, former Illinois Republican congressman, now CNN senior political commentator who served on the January 6th committee, do you hear from your colleagues as to what's going to happen tonight?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yeah, I mean, I think everybody's kind of up in the air on this. You guys have both mentioned it's down to two names and I think the irony of it, so if you think about your kind of rank-and-file Republican right now that's been bearing through this kind of consistently voting for McCarthy.

Every time one of these members stands up and says McCarthy or says present and you have the cheer in the Republic -- those kinds of builds a little animosity because it's like, hey, I've been here on the team kind of pulling my weight and all of a sudden, we're praising and patting and smiling with these people that have caused us to be here in the first place.


There's a lot of division and animosity right now, and I expect that to play out even further in the future here.

TAPPER: Do you -- I'm actually kind of surprised that Matt Gaetz didn't vote (inaudible). And a former House Republican --

KINZINGER: He very well -- he very well may be waiting to be the very last person who gets all the attention as you guys said. So, that -- he knows how to play this game. It's one thing he's good at, is knowing how to get attention.

TAPPER: I mean, it's interesting, though, because earlier on Fox he was calling Kevin McCarthy speaker designate. He was saying that he was excited. He was saying that he got everything he wanted, there's nothing else to ask for. He was referring to the painful process as the process of going through writing a prenup, not a process I know anything about, but perhaps he does.

And the idea that you have to go through this painful thing but at the end there is this wedding. I guess that was the metaphor. So, it sounded like he might even vote for Kevin McCarthy. What do you think?

KINZINGER: So, I don't know how this is going to play out. I imagine you guys have the numbers better than I do, but I imagine whatever Rosendale does that somehow it still leaves it in the balance and they go through the roll call again for those that didn't vote. And you very well may see Matt Gaetz stand up and say Kevin McCarthy and the cheers breaks out or maybe he doesn't vote. I don't know.

But whatever it is, by him not voting, whatever the reason is, in his mind, he thinks it's going to get him the most attention. I don't say that just to be mean. It's just how he is. It's what his -- it's what his thinking is at this moment.

TAPPER: No, no. Absolutely, we're all zoologists as well, watching the animals of Congress. And so, what happens is there's only two votes left of these -- of these outstanding votes. And of them, Gaetz has not voted. He somehow wasn't there for this vote, this incredibly important vote. And Matt Rosendale has not yet voted. They haven't gotten up to the hours.

The options are Rosendale votes for Jim Jordan or something, in which case it's all up to Matt Gaetz to save the day and to vote for Kevin McCarthy in delivering the speakership. Or Rosendale votes present in which case it's all up to Matt Gaetz to either also vote present or to vote for McCarthy. And then lastly the only option that takes away any attention from Matt Gaetz is if Rosendale is the one who votes McCarthy.

KINZINGER: Yeah, that sound about right. And I wouldn't be surprised if they have something planned out. I don't know that, but I think -- I mean, it's tight. If McCarthy wins this, he certainly has worked hard to get it. What I'm going to be interested in, you know, I can say as a guy just out of a job if I'm sitting there and I'm still voting for McCarthy, I would be very concerned about the rules package because what has he given up?

And I think that's where -- I don't know. I know at least Representative Gonzalez said he's voting no. I don't feel there's a broader movement on that, but I would certainly be considering tanking the rules package at that point, and then we'd be in another standoff here. I don't think that's going to happen, I don't know. But that's what I'd be thinking and it might be interesting to watch the mind-set of where this goes.

TAPPER: All right. Standby, congressman. I want to bring in Manu Raju on Capitol Hill who has some new reporting. Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Matt Gaetz actually left when his name was called. He was not in the chamber, but he is back in the chamber, Jake. He is seated next to -- he's speaking to Tom Emmer, who is one of the chief deputies of Kevin McCarthy. He's been negotiating all these concessions that we're having discussions. And now he's seated next to Lauren Boebert.

So, he will have a chance to vote at the end of this, after this is all done. Let's see how he decides to vote. If he decides not to vote at all, that's as good as a present vote. That's enough to bring down the number that Kevin McCarthy ultimately needs. So, Gaetz is still a question, but he is in the chamber. We'll see how he decides to vote.

TAPPER: Okay, Congressman Kinzinger, you were talking about your concerns about the rules. I've heard a lot of McCarthy supporters express real concern about the changes, ones that are going to be officially made in the rules package if they vote on today that will democratize and give much more power to the average member of congress as opposed to the speaker.

And then beyond that, there are, as Melanie Zanona, one of our reporters says, a lot of promises he made with a handshake that are not on paper and a lot of people are worried about that.

KINZINGER: Yeah, that's what -- I mean, I'd be asking those questions before I would commit to vote for anything. I know there's a lot of consternation about that. I've heard from people the question is what has he promised? They might just be tired enough to like let's just get it done and deal with it.


But I think the lesson and why I actually think -- I kind of take a counter narrative here. I actually think this being played out in the public isn't really a bad thing in the long run because first off it takes some governments, not ours necessarily, but some governments time to form a government, parliaments, if you think about that.

But this is, again, a guy that has lived this dynamic. This is the dynamic we have lived with for about 12 years I've been in Congress, and now it's out in front of the American people. And I think it's given Republicans, you know, simply turn on their favorite talk show and they hear everybody's RINO's except for, you know, Matt Gaetz who's a hero.

They now get to see maybe a different side of that and I actually, I don't know, it'd be interesting to see if this has an impact on the future of the freedom caucus. It'd be interesting to see, you know, how many times they're going to put up to vacate Kevin McCarthy if he simply raises the debt limit. And the open rule thing is going to be interesting, too. It's been a lot of late nights with that.

TAPPER: All right, stick around, Congressman Kinzinger. We're going to sneak in a quick break. We'll be right back with more of this riveting action on the floor of the House. We do not know what's going to happen. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back. For those (inaudible) at home this is the 14th ballot for would be speaker Kevin McCarthy. Right now, he has -- he is waiting in earnest to find out what two members of Congress who have been opponents of his throughout this entire process are going to do, Congressman Rosendale and Congressman Gaetz.


He needs either both of them to vote present or one of them to vote for him. And if that happens, either both present or one for him, then he becomes the next speaker of the house. Seems like a complicated and arcane process, but this is how it's going. And Abbey Philip, I have to say this is historic. We've only had, I think, four House races in history that have gone longer than this one. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Historic in the

worst possible way. I don't think anybody really wanted it to be like this. But honestly just given as you called us zoologist, we're zoologist watching this fiasco unfold, kind of don't know it could have been any other way. I think some of these members really had to get this out of their system.

They had to make a point. They had to get some concessions. They had to go through this process in some ways, and Kevin McCarthy had to go through this process. I mean, I think he -- we were talking earlier about how he was saying, well, we learned how to govern. I mean, he may literally have learned the contours of his conference and how to actually wrangle these folks.

And I think the answer is that it's going to be really freaking hard. That rules package that I'm sure we'll talk about later in the many hours we'll be on-air is basically just as Matt Gaetz called it, a straitjacket. That's a real thing for Kevin McCarthy. And I think that the fact he had to go there is something that he probably needed to figure out about what it would take to wrangle, you know, with a four- seat majority.

And he needed to go through this process, too, and now he'll see whether the speakership if he gets it, is worth all the effort that he put into it.

TAPPER: Dana Bash, another thing Matt Gaetz said -- I've never quoted Matt Gaetz so many times in my life.

BASH: Seriously, he's getting a lot of airtime. Exactly what he wanted.

TAPPER: Sure, of course. But another thing he said is that the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, this group of conservatives some of whom have been with McCarthy, but a lot of them haven't as well, will now have power than the speaker of the house. And he's right in some ways.

BASH: Yeah, but you know what, they kind of did during Paul Ryan. They kind of did during John Boehner which is why John Boehner said I'm out of here, which is why Paul Ryan said I'm out of here. And, you know, we talk about the Freedom Caucus, that is sort of the bigger caucus of the harder line conservatives.

They tend to be for the most part, like real conservatives when you think about the fiscal situation and that ideology. The people we're talking about that we're looking at that went from 20 on down, not all of them but a lot of them it's not about that. It's about getting their name out there. It's about just being provocative. It's about being in some ways an anarchist, in some ways an insurrectionist.

TAPPER: Certainly, these last seven holdouts absolutely.

BASH: Yeah.

HUNT: No. I mean, so, I'm struck by a couple of things. First of all, Kevin McCarthy is incredibly stubborn to be here tonight. I mean, the number of times this process where we he could have folded and said, well, maybe Steve Scalise is the person he should talk to instead, I mean, this obviously has been years in the making but he has carried that through here.

But I'm also struck by in that stubbornness, why did John Boehner resign as speaker of the house? Why did Paul Ryan decide to throw in the towel? Both of them thought that letting this group of people hold them hostage, hold the U.S. government hostage in critical important situations was too much. They didn't want to deal with it anymore.

Some of that was personal. They just didn't want to put up with it. They didn't like it. But some of it was also about what is the responsible thing to do when you have been given the power to govern the country in critical moments like raising the debt ceiling or dealing with a national security crisis among other things.

And McCarthy in his stubbornness has essentially said I will give them what they want so that I can stay in power. Now, I'm interested to see how long that continues for him, but I see a significant difference between how he's willing to handle this and how some of his predecessors have.

TAPPER: So, we are approaching in about minute Congressman Matt Rosendale of Montana who has been in this case been described to me by his colleagues as unpredictable and something of a wild card. Remember, he was the one that went on the floor and said he was running for Kevin Hern. And we're getting close to Rosendale.


If Congressman Rosendale who is reportedly has ambitions to run for Senate, has been convinced to work for McCarthy, that's it, McCarthy wins. Let's listen. It's coming up.


UNKNOWN: (Inaudible)

UNKNOWN: McCarthy. Rogers of Kentucky?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).

UNKNOWN: McCarthy. Rose?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).

UNKNOWN: McCarthy. Rosendale?

UNKNOWN: (Inaudible).



TAPPER: Matt Rosendale voting for Andy Biggs. That means that there is only one option left for Kevin McCarthy to win on this ballot and that is Matt Gaetz has to vote for him. There is no other math that works, John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so, there's the question of can you win? And if he gets Matt Gaetz's votes and the other votes he has slipped, then it will be the debate about how you won and who you needed to get to win and how much you gave them. I believe Matt Gaetz for all the other colorful things in his resume is among those who asked Donald Trump for a pardon after the events of two years ago today at the United States Capitol, and other efforts from election day through January 6th up to the Biden inauguration to try to overturn the American democracy.

TAPPER: Let's go to -- let's got to Erin Burnett who has an interview with a key member of Congress.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jake, and yes, obviously we are now in the hands of Matt Gaetz. Kevin McCarthy's future is in the hand of Matt Gaetz. I want to bring in Republican Congressman Ken Buck who came back today to cast his vote. And congressman, thank you very much for your time.

Mr. Rosendale has just voted for Biggs. So, this puts it as the only path in this round of voting for Kevin McCarthy to win the speakership is Matt Gaetz to vote for him, vote for Kevin McCarthy. Do you believe that's going to happen?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I don't know. I have not talked to Matt in a day and I don't know where he is on it.

BURNETT: Are you surprised by where we are right now? I mean, if there was complete confidence obviously from Kevin McCarthy and from others in his circle, there was incredible confidence. Are you surprised by where we are right now as this roll call continues?

BUCK: You know, I got off a plane about an hour ago. I'm not surprised by anything at this point. I'm just not up to speed. So, I am hopeful that Matt does the right thing, that we have a speaker tonight, that we get our rules package and we move forward.

BURNETT: And he did, of course, refer to him, as jake pointed out earlier in an interview today as the speaker designate, but we don't know. It's obviously earlier before that, so that he would never vote for him. Congressman, you rushed back to be here for this. As you say, you just got off a plane. You were back in Colorado for a preplanned nonemergency medical procedure, but you got right back in the plane and you came back and you just come straight in to vote. Did McCarthy ask you to come back tonight?

BUCK: No, I had planned to come back beforehand. I didn't know whether they would be over or whether we'd still be going. So, I had planned to come back, and honestly, I hope it gets done on this vote, and I'm really glad that I'm here. I think this is historic.

BURNETT: And obviously, I know you're glad you're there. Is it possible in your mind that, and I guess you're trying to digest this, too, that you could be looking at another round. This may not be over if Matt Gaetz does not vote for Kevin McCarthy.

BUCK: That's right. It may not be over and there will be another round in that situation and we will continue to push for Kevin McCarthy.

BURNETT: And you'll continue to push for Kevin McCarthy. And if this then -- and obviously I should note to you, congressman, I'm sure you realize this, but as you said, you just got off the plane and Matt Gaetz wasn't there when his name was called out. He's now back in on the floor sitting next to, I understand, Congresswoman Boebert. We understand Congressman McHenry sort of rushed over to see him as soon as he walked back in the room. So, we'll see how this plays out.

BUCK: I've got to leave and go vote.

BURNETT: You got to leave and go vote. Well, I don't want to hold you back from that. We know obviously you're going to be voting for Kevin McCarthy. All right, thank you very much, congressman. I appreciate your time.

BUCK: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: All right. So, I'll just let you guys jump in. Yes.

UNKNOWN: Yeah. While this was going on I searched with somebody on the floor who was saying the word was Rosendale was supposed to be present. This is according to --

UNKNOWN: A present vote.

UNKNOWN: Vote present.


UNKNOWN: But instead voted, well, (inaudible) that. If that's true, they thought -- they thought he was going to be present and then he didn't do what he was supposed to do.

UNKNOWN: Maybe that's why -- maybe that's why Gaetz took a walk. Maybe that's why Gaetz took a walk to be, you know --

UNKNOWN: To see what he did.

UNKNOWN: Yes, to see what he did.

UNKNOWN: Well, his bargaining position just went up.

UNKNOWN: Matt Gaetz's bargaining position moved way up.

BASH: Well, that would actually put some perspective on what Dave Sherman reporting, right, that Congressman McHenry rushed over to Matt Gaetz when he came back in because all of a sudden, a present from Gaetz is not going to do it.


UNKNOWN: Yesterday, Matt Gaetz said that McCarthy hadn't earned the speakership and not -- does not able to get the votes.


It does make you more to know now that the speakership, McCarthy's speakership is hanging literally as you point out, Erin, in Matt Gaetz's, you know -- he's got control, he's got full control. What did he get?

BURNETT: John (inaudible) is still on the floor. Let's just say, this is -- this is a moment here. I mean, that -- this is why the future here for Kevin McCarthy is literally Matt Gaetz is sitting there waiting.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Kevin McCarthy's speakership is hanging on a thread named Matt Gaetz, which in any normal day you would say is the least stable thread you could possibly hang the speakership on. But his leverage is the maximum point is that I could get you politicians. So, let's see what happens.

BURNETT: All right. Let's -- do we see -- the cameras are on. It looks like he's with Congressman McHenry. Yeah. There you go. So that comes at --

UNKNOWN: Which way will the gates swing?

UNKNOWN: You're the best.

UNKNOWN: We've got to get this over, man.


UNKNOWN: He's sitting next to the court master general.

UNKNOWN: We're here on CNN with a picture of the House floor and Matt Gaetz having a conversation with --

UNKNOWN: Can I go back to the point John King was raising? I really do believe there's great danger for the Republican Party if in fact Matt Gaetz is the guy who delivers the speakership to McCarthy after McCarthy made all these concessions to the House Freedom Caucus. And the House Freedom Caucus brands the Republican -- the Republican Conference and controls what happens from this point forward.

This is precisely what people were worried about last fall when Republicans underperformed at the ballot box.

UNKNOWN: I am -- I am -- I must say I'm riveted by this conversation because it's quite animated.

UNKNOWN: It also strikes me that, remember, it was about this time two years ago that that man, Matt Gaetz, stood up in this chamber and made the case it was Antifa who had stormed the capitol and that there were rabble-rousers in the crowd that were undermining.

UNKNOWN: This is, I mean --

UNKNOWN: I mean, this is down to the wire.

UNKNOWN: This is what begging looks like, right here.

UNKNOWN: And to emphasize -- to emphasize McHenry (inaudible) as you point out. So, instrumental to McCarthy, he has been sort of the four (ph) -- the tip the spear for the negotiations to get people onboard in areas (ph).

UNKNOWN: I mean, this, by the way, this is what I was talking about earlier when I talk about grinding it down. It is right here. Matt Gaetz is being ground down right now. The pressure on Matt Gaetz is incredible in that chamber.

AVLON: But look at his body language. This is what you use to call the Johnson treatment.

UNKNOWN: Does it?

AVLON: Yeah. Right? But Gaetz's body language doesn't seem too impressed by the appeals. We will see what happens in fact.

UNKNOWN: He might not even mind that we're talking about him.


UNKNOWN: He might, you know, I have to say I'm -- I am old enough to remember when Matt Gaetz proclaimed in front of this chamber that McCarthy would never, ever get the votes to become speaker of the House and that happened this morning.

UNKNOWN: He may stand up -- he may stand up --

UNKNOWN: He may make his prophecy come true.

BURNETT: Let's -- I mean, it is incredible. Jake, just to watch this and to watch this and to watch this conversation and to realize how important it is, it is incredible to see.

TAPPER: I hope you have the same closed captioning that we do here in Washington.

BURNETTE: Oh, oh, really? I thought you were just a lip reader.


TAPPER: We're reading everything that they're saying. I hope you at home have that closed captioning.


TAPPER: Just kidding. We don't know. Manu Raju, earlier today, Matt Gaetz said Mr. McCarthy doesn't have the votes today. He won't have the votes tomorrow. He will not have them next week, next month, next year. Is that still how he feels?

RAJU: It is really an open question here that are ample discussions about what to do here. There are discussions about possibly adjourning the chamber. Those are all part of the discussions going back and forth between Gaetz and some of his allies. And we were told from one of our sources (inaudible) one of our colleagues in the room, Annie Grayer, that McCarthy's mood clearly has shifted in over this course of the last few minutes here as it appears this is all hanging on Matt Gaetz.

She says that McCarthy's mood, he used to be -- he had been cheering initially, not so much anymore. His staffer saying along with Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, are now very focused on the roll call sheets when they typically would have been a bit more casual at this moment.

So, all eyes on Matt Gaetz. No one exactly knows what he'll do at this moment. Kevin McCarthy's speakership now hangs on the very person who tried to deny him the job for the past two months and especially the last few days.

TAPPER: Okay. Now, they're going through the scraps, the people -- the people that missed their vote. Ken Buck just voted. Ken Buck just voted for McCarthy. These are the key votes and Matt Gaetz is the keyest of them all. Let's listen in.



REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Present.

UNKNOWN: Present.



TAPPER: He voted present. That will not be enough to deliver the speakership to Kevin McCarthy.