Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

Trump In Court For First Day Of $250 Million Civil Fraud Trial; Girl Found Safe After Vanishing On A New York Camping Trip; Rep. Cuellar Was Carjacked At Gunpoint In D.C.; Gaetz Moves To Oust Speaker McCarthy; Former GOP Congressman To Party: "It's Time To Grow Up". Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 23:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We're told he was safe. We are waiting for more details from his office. Abby, there have been violence against members of Congress. Angie Craig of Minnesota, she was punched in the face in elevator at her home in D.C. just last year, a staffer for Senator Rand Paul also in the D.C. area.

So, unfortunately, the violence, the Congress is not immune to that. And, of course, it has been night in Congress. People are back in session. Tonight, members of Congress are not in the event. We are learning here that Congressman Cuellar was pulled out pulled from his car and is safe, thankfully, but they are searching for the people who did this.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: That's a very scary situation. Manu, you are all over it. Thank you very much for bringing us that latest update.

And that's it for me in "CNN Primetime." CNN with Laura Coates starts right now. Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks, Abby. Good evening, everyone. I am Laura Coates, and I want you to stay with us for the breaking news on this nine-year-old girl. You know that I'm a mother of a nine-year-old girl, and this story felt very personal to so many mothers and fathers and people, human beings across this country, when this little girl went missing on a camping trip just two days ago, when she was just riding her bike, everyone.

Well, she has been found safe tonight. We're going to unpack all of it. We're going to talk to our experts and give you everything we know now that this little girl is safe. That's all coming up.

But, you know, I had been waiting also to talk to you all day long about day one of this trial against Donald Trump. He showed up. The cameras were let in for just long enough to catch the former president sitting at the defendant's table.

A few feet away from him was the attorney general, Letitia James, who he has called racist and has condemned her for a very long time. A judge was also a few feet away from him, presiding over the entire trial.

And Trump was actually late entering the courtroom because he was too busy insulting that judge in front of the cameras outside the courtroom. And mind you, Trump did not have to show up to this. It's surprising to know, in a state court case in New York, you might be shocked to know that it's actually not required for you to actually appear. Remember, he didn't show up at the trial where he was accused of sexual misconduct by E. Jean Carroll. Remember that?

But this trial, one that could spell maybe the end of the Trump business in New York, the one about his wealth and mind you, a quarter of a billion, yes, with a "B," a quarter of a billion bucks, well, you better believe he was in that courtroom, or was it the campaign trail that he was on? Maybe a little bit of both because, after all, this to me sounded a whole lot like what was going on, that the courthouse was another stop on the campaign trail, at least outside.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was for politics. Now, it has been very successful for them because they took me off the campaign trail. Because I've been sitting in a courthouse all day long, instead of being in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or a lot of other places I could be at.


COATES: Well, he did choose to be there all day long. Again, was today. And as I told you, there's no requirement that he actually be there in the first place. And there's no guarantee that he'll actually be there over the next day or week or maybe even two to three months that the judge expects this case to take.

But with or without him inside of that courtroom, we heard from the New York attorney general today, Letitia James, insisting that the trial is about just one thing.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: My message is simple. No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law. And it is my responsibility and my duty and my job to enforce it.


COATES: How often have we heard this phrase about being above the law? I want to turn now as we are talking about and diving deep into this very important conversation about yet another historic event today of the former president of the United States actually appearing in a courtroom, in a courthouse for his own trial. We're going to talk about that right now.

I want to begin with litigation attorney A. Scott Bolden, also Roger Severino, vice president of the Heritage Foundation and former DOJ trial attorney. Also here is CNN political analyst Laura Barron-Lopez. A lot to unpack today. Let me begin with my lawyers. I'll turn my shoulder for a second to you, Laura, but you know I love you, especially the name. But for a moment, gentlemen, when you think about the consequences of today and the gravitas of what is going on, we have become accustomed, I guess, to having this former president have legal trouble.

But this one feels different. In fact, he was appearing for this trial. Scott, what'd you make of the first day of this trial?




BOLDEN: You know, I've told you before --

COATES: So, tell me how you really feel about this, Scott.


BOLDEN: I've told you and others. I hope so. We're going to probably disagree about some other things later. But I've said that his campaign are his criminal cases. This is a civil case, and his civil cases are his campaign. That's how he raised his money. This was a political clown show.

The attacks on Letitia James, my classmate from Harvard Law School, and this judge who have his fate of multiple of millions of dollars in their hands, basically -- remember, they could negotiate a settlement on this. They're probably not. But that would be about Letitia James. The court could ultimately rule on these other six counts as well as how much money they're going to give to the state of New York based on his finding of fraud.

And so, attacking those two makes very little sense. But here again, his political statements, his lawyers' political statements, an opening argument to a bench trial, right, not a jury, just seem to be out of place, misplaced, if you will, inappropriate. But that's what you get with Donald Trump when he goes to court because he didn't have to be there. Remember, this was about the campaign, not about losing $250 million.

COATES: Well, of course, the judge shot down some of the comments by Trump's lawyers, saying, we've already litigated some of these matters. It went up to the appellate court. It came back down. We're here for this now post-finding of fraud.

But one of their big arguments has been, Roger, look, who are the victims here? I mean, the banks are not saying that they got defrauded in some way. They got a lot of their money, if not all of it back. So, the Trump legal argument defensively has been what's the big deal? Now, it's not a requirement there to actually be a victim, but is that going to hold water? ROGER SEVERINO, VICE PRESIDENT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, there's a fundamental concept of law. No victim, no crime. So, where's the victim here? One of the banks made $40 million in interest. President Trump paid all his bills. He paid every single thing he owed. He never missed a payment. So, you're right, it is a political clown show.

But the ringleader is Letitia James, the attorney general. She's the one who's bringing this politically-motivated campaign against President Trump. She said she was going to get Trump as part of her political campaign and tried to throw whatever would stick. She got a judge that's very compliant that is also out to get Trump.

It's very clear there's no victim. He said that you don't even need an intent to actually defraud. And we're talking about sophisticated banks, right? When he gave his numbers, as to what he valued Mar-a- Lago, the judge said it was only $18 million. One of the most famous properties in America, only $18 million.

He's putting his judgment over what the banks thought. The banks thought those numbers, whatever they thought of it, they thought it was fine to go forward with President Trump because he paid all his bills.

COATES: So, you have an issue in part from understanding with the actual statute because it does not require that there be the victim in that. That's one of the issues. But you and I have -- you've been a trial attorney, I believe, as well. We've all talked about so-called victimless crimes. What about prostitution? Who is the victim? I mean, we talk about societal crimes. We talk about drug cases as well. We have laws on the books --


COATES: -- that are so-called victimless. But on behalf of the people who are able to have the same tax perhaps evasion or insurance, uh, benefits, etc., what do you say to that that we do have so-called victimless crimes --


COATES: -- and we don't take those off the books?

SEVERINO: This is one thing we know for certain. Had it not been President Trump running for president and actually leading in the polls, there would be no prosecution of him right now.

BOLDEN: That's not true.

COATES: Do we know that for certain?

BOLDEN: We know that's not true.

SEVERINO: There's no way any prosecutor would go after this.

BOLDEN: That is not true. I'll tell you why. These investigations, criminal and civil, were ongoing before Donald Trump entered the race in November of '22. They were publicly known, if you will. Donald Trump entered the race while these investigations were going on to prevent them to run for office and to halt them or stymie them, thinking because he was a candidate, that they would not go forward with these criminal and civil investigations.

But we make that argument that you just made when I defend people who are committing mortgage fraud, who have not failed on their mortgage. They've been paid, right? But there's not one federal law, not one state law that requires a victim.

You get a victim statement in criminal cases, but nowhere on any book anywhere is that if you violate these laws, if you do persistent and repeated fraud, what do you do with that? You don't need a victim. You need social compliance. You need legal compliance because it makes us better as a society.

COATES: I will --

BOLDEN: So that's not the argument. That's not a winning argument.

COATES: I want to bring Laura here. I really value your opinion on this, too, because there has been a lot of discussions about this being political.

I mean, Trump himself has called this a political witch hunt. He insisted on being there today. He says in part, I think to largely your point, about he believes that this is all about a political witch hunt led by Letitia James. There were moments, it was hard to imagine whether it was the campaign moment or a criminal or a civil trial moment. How do you see it?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the former president's argument since he has launched his campaign has been that everything is a persecution against him and that he is the ultimate victim, whether it's this case, whether it's the other investigations.


He calls every single indictment that he has faced, uh, you know, a persecution. And that has been his entire campaign argument. He runs on that. He's running on that right now. And he -- it may very well ride that all the way to the GOP nomination because it appears that it does work for him in the primary. But there are questions --

COATES: There are a lot -- there are a lot of dates in between that, including other trials and including things happening.

BARRON-LOPEZ: There are.

COATES: He's got a long way to the what? Four hundred days away.

BARRON-LOPEZ: He does. And so, it may help him in the primary, but in the general election is where that could break down because of the fact that there are swing voters that I talk to in battleground states who say that they don't think that they can vote for him, not just because of the indictments, but because of what they see as threats to democracy on his part in the campaign that he's running.

And so, I think that -- and there's Republican strategists that I've talked to who have said that if he's indicted in just one of these cases -- sorry, if he's convicted in just one of these cases, that then they think that he'll definitely lose the election if it's him against Biden.

COATES: Do you -- I mean, you disagree vehemently.

SEVERINO: This is helping him. Every time he gets indicted, the American people see this as a sham. This is a mockery of the justice system. It has been weaponized. It's a two-tier system. They wanted to get Trump.

Look at the videos of Letitia James on her campaign. She wants to get Trump. She found whatever she could to throw against him. This is a very weak case that would never happen had he not been running for president. Everybody knew he was going to run for president. Everybody knew he was going to run for president. I'll buy that for a moment.

This is a coordinated campaign. You see it in New York, you see it in Georgia, you see it in D.C., in Florida, you see it in the IRS with Hunter Biden. They are going after him because they're afraid that he could get back in the White House.

Let the people decide and vote. You don't use the justice system and corrupt it to do an end run around the democratic process. This is exactly what's going on.

COATES: Part of the issue, as you can imagine, is the bald assertions you're making, right? The idea -- I'm not certain that there is any evidence to support several of the facts that you've raised, that there's this proof of weaponization, that they were going to have a coordination between Letitia James and the Fulton County D.A., Fani Willis, and that there have already been, as you know, in New York that can belie the point you've raised. Cy Vance wanted to pursue criminal charges. Alvin Bragg chose not to. He has been heavily criticized.

So, we'll have to see how this all unfolds. But your points are well taken about the politics of all this. But I, as a prosecutor, need some meat on the bone, everyone. Scott, Roger, Laura -- not me, this Laura -- thank you so much. Laura, I want to thank you for all you've done as well.

I also want to bring in someone who knows a lot about Donald Trump's finances. "Forbes" senior editor Dan Alexander wrote their definitive guide to Donald Trump's net worth earlier this year. He joins me now.

Bring me the meat on the bone, Dan, because we're talking a lot about what's happening here and whether charges would have been brought before he announced he was running for reelection or whatnot. There's been a lot of questions, as you know, about part of the crux of his entire campaigning, which is that he is a wealthy and savvy billionaire. To his supporters, that's exactly what he is. To his opponents, he's a fraud who isn't worth half as much as he claims. So, what's the truth here, based on your reporting that is?

DAN ALEXANDER, SENIOR EDITOR, FORBES: You can be both. You can be both a billionaire and be widely lying about how rich you are. You know, this case ultimately is a math question. And the question is, if you go through his assets and you value what they're worth, do those values make sense?

Now, you can argue about what the price per square foot is, for example, on a particular property. What you can't argue about is how many square feet exist in that property. And there are certain places here where Trump has been aggressive and other places where he's just made stuff up.

And unfortunately for the former president, the prosecutors have all of the backup math that Trump was using to get to his numbers. And it's pretty easy to go through it, asset by asset, and see that he was just making a lot of stuff up.

COATES: Now, we have a guest on the panel today, Roger, who was talking about the -- I'm paraphrasing, of course, but the idea of the subjective valuation of dollars as well. And this is part of it. This is part of the retort that it has been, that the judge found that Mar- a-Lago is only worth $18 million to $27 million, citing a Palm Beach County assessor. And his lawyers say that it's worth over a billion. In part, they're talking about the brand cache of it being owned by Donald Trump.

But in your March article, you say that it is worth $325 million. I mean, I don't have property like this, but how can there be such a wide range for how much a property is actually worth?

ALEXANDER: Mar-a-Lago is the hardest property in Donald Trump's entire portfolio to value. I can tell you one thing, it's not worth $18 million. And I'll tell you another thing, it's not worth a billion dollars.


If you talk to people who study that market, both residential real estate and also sort of the club business, they'll tell you widely varying figures. You know, anywhere from say, $100 or $200 million to maybe $700 million. That's a huge, huge gap.

What we do is we look at what the financials are and then we look at other traits in the neighborhood, and there are some detractions against this property because you can't subdivide it into a bunch of houses and that sort of thing. And ultimately, that's how we come up with $325 million.

But if you told me tomorrow that that place is sold for $200 million, I wouldn't be shocked. If he told me it is sold for $500 million, I wouldn't be shocked either.

I will say that they're being very strategic about focusing on this particular asset for two reasons. One, there's so much variability in it, which there just simply isn't in other assets. And two, the attorney general took an aggressive position.

And to be clear, the judge did not take that position. The judge merely said, this is what the county valued it at and this is what Trump's people are valuing it at. There's a huge discrepancy. But this is, I think, one of the weak points of the A.G.'s case and one place where her math, I think, got a little bit too aggressive.

COATES: I mean, I can imagine many people don't have the so-called comps of Mar-a-Lago to be able to figure out exactly how much it's worth, but you're reporting broke down Trump's net worth and New York City real estate makes up the second biggest bucket. So how much are we talking that he stands to lose if, say, he actually is barred from doing business in New York State?

ALEXANDER: Well, those assets would be sold. And, you know, one of the big questions here is what the process would be for selling those assets. I think one asset in particular to keep an eye on is 40 Wall Street. This is a building in downtown New York. It does have a pretty significant loan against it.

And it also has a big problem, which is that it's technically what's called a leasehold. In other words, Donald Trump doesn't own the land there. He just gets to operate the building and collect the profits. The rent that he has to pay to the owners of the land, which is a German family, skyrockets 10 years from now. That basically makes that property sort of a ticking time bomb.

So, if you were to try to sell that anyways, an investor might look at that as, oh, this might be sort of a fire sale. If he has to sell that with under duress from the New York attorney general or court, then all of a sudden, it's sort of an extreme fire sale and he could end up in trouble on that loan.

But the important thing to remember about Donald Trump's finances is that he does have a significant amount of cash. His best defense in this case is about $425 million. That's roughly the amount of cash that he has.

So, even if they force him to pay, say a quarter of a billion dollars, sure, it's going to be very, very painful and it's going to limit his ability to, for example, borrow against his buildings in the future and figure out what to do with expiring loans on office buildings, but he can handle that hit and he's not going to walk away from this a poor man.

COATES: Dan Alexander, this is rich people problems now. Thank you so much.


ALEXANDER: Thank you.

COATES: Coming up, a frantic search in New York State. A nine-year-old girl who went missing while on a camping trip with her family just two days ago, everyone, she has been found safe. The governor, Kathy Hochul, just releasing some brand-new details. That breaking news is next.



COATES: Our breaking news, a nine-year-old girl who vanished just two days ago while camping with her family in upstate New York, she has been found safe. Police say that Charlotte Sena is in good health and the suspect, a 47-year-old man, is now in custody. Here's governor Kathy Hochul on the moment the case started to break early this morning.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): At 4:20 a.m., the car pulls up to a mailbox. Something is left. State police immediately go to the mailbox and identify what is a ransom note that had been left behind for Charlotte.

State police worked diligently, trying to find a match for a fingerprint. First one tried and wasn't successful. Second one was to identify any other prints in the New York State database that would be a match. The hit came at 2:30 in the afternoon. There had been a DWI in 1999 in the city of Saratoga. A fingerprint was found that matched what was found on the ransom note.


COATES: Isn't that unbelievable? I mean, truly -- I mean, according to the governor, Governor Hochul, the suspect is believed to have personally delivered the ransom note to the home of this little girl's parents.

I want to bring in CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller. And also here with us, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. I'm so glad the two of you are here. I know we're all parents and thinking about just how horrible this story could have turned out. How we've all been accustomed, unfortunately, to seeing stories like this in the news and praying for an outcome of a return safely of a child.

And here we have it today. But the facts of this case, John, unbelievable. A ransom note hand delivered to Charlotte's parents' mailbox at 4:00 this morning. There were fingerprints on that note. That helped authorities identify the suspect. Just talk to me about the turn of events and that very crucial key piece of evidence.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, when state police are watching the house, they see the note delivered. You know, the first question you get is, why didn't they stop the car? But this is not terribly uncommon, which is, um, people like network news people and others are leaving messages for the family. Well- wishers are leaving cards.

[23:25:01] But when they looked at that piece of mail and sent it to the state police lab, they fumed it, looking for a print. As the governor said, the first print wasn't the quality that would get them an I.D.

They went at it a second time. They got a quality print that you could put into the AFIS system, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System for New York State. It runs it against every print from anybody who has been arrested on a felony or been in state prison. And they came up with a match.

Then they take the note and its meaning, they take the print that they lifted from it, they cross-index that with cellular phone records from the towers around the park at the time, and they see this triangulates. We've got somebody who was in the area at the time of the abduction or at least their phone was. We've got this print off the letter. We've got a potential ransom demand.

And then it was from 2:30 this afternoon developing that tactical operation because making a dynamic entry with armed police, SWAT team, armored vehicles, you need that element of surprise, you need that speed, you need that violence of action. But you also have to remember --


MILLER: -- there's a child in there.

COATES: Right.

MILLER: And you don't know what the conditions of how that child may be being held are or even, to speak the unspeakable, you know, if the child is still alive. So, they made an entry plan, they executed the entry plan, they found her in a cabinet covered up with some kind of blanket. She knew she was being rescued. And they got her to the Albany Hospital, where she was reunited with her parents.

COATES: Unbelievable.

MILLER: And as you said, Laura, this is for a parent whose child goes missing, where the odds are, as you enter the second day, they're increasing. You may never see that child again alive. This is like getting your whole life back again.

COATES: Unbelievable. And you can't even describe the feeling this family must be feeling right now. And Juliette, I mean, Hochul says that the suspect was living in a camper behind this parents' home.


COATES: The cell phone pinged in the area that helped authorities trace the suspect. And as John pointed out, they didn't necessarily follow that car. But one of the reasons to think about this is that you don't want to sometimes spook the suspect into never knowing where the person they're holding might ultimately be, and then you're lost and at the mercy of the person who may choose to speak to you. But talk to me about the role of technology in a search like this. KAYYEM: Yeah. So, look, I mean, this is one of those sorts of issues where your fear makes this seem like this is like a sort of chronic problem. So, I just want to put it in perspective. Fortunately, in the United States now, we have 350, I'm not going to say only 350 abductions like this a year, at least as of 2018, and most of them don't end up this successfully. And so, that's why I think that there is interest in this. It's just that this is your worst fear and my goodness, finally, we deserve a happy ending.

And part of this is modern technology. How are we able to do this now? So just think of the combination of things. First of all, you have the fingerprints that are then matched to an older database which you have the suspect in there for some randomness in a different jurisdiction, a random crime in a different jurisdiction, not related to this particular crime.

You then have the pings from the cell phones. And that's relatively new technology in the sense of our ability to, in real time, assess where is the network connecting, and then we can target where the suspect is.

COATES: And really quick, Juliette, I don't want to cut you off, at one point, does that require them to have the subpoena? Was that mean that the cell phone company was helping in any way? No.

KAYYEM: The cell phone company would give this up voluntarily if this were an emergency situation. They don't know that the girl is dead. So, it depends. This is an ongoing crime, the cell phone company. So, what they're capturing now is where he may have moved.

What John was saying is really important, this idea that we don't know if she's alive at the time that you approached the suspect and you don't want to kill him if she is alive because if she's alive and not with him, you've got to figure out where she is. So, the success of this is also in sort of the approach to the suspect. She is fortunately there.

And then the last element, which is also relatively new, we're used to it now, but in John and mine's lifetime, this is relatively new, the crowdsourcing of this investigation, that law enforcement is much more willing now to come out with the details that they may have to figure out if people have seen someone, heard someone, saw something suspicious given the nature of what happened. She was abducted off of her bike in a park when she wasn't far from the people that she was bike riding with.


So, it's just a story of technology and modern investigations and also just a good news story. We need one every once in a while.

COATES: Certainly, we're all thinking about this little girl, just nine years old and the family. I know -- I'm from Minnesota and remember when in St. Cloud, a young boy --

KAYYEM: Yup. COATES: -- by the name of Jacob Wetterling was taken from his bike when he was riding with his brother and a companion as well. I remember his mother went on to serve in Congress, I believe, Patty Wetterling, and fighting for stories like this to take place that did not happen for her son. And I'll never forget that as a parent or as a child growing up with that fear in me.

Juliette, John, thank you so much.

MILLER: Thanks, Laura.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Bye.

COATES: We've also got some breaking news tonight on Congressman Henry Cuellar, who was carjacked in Washington, D.C. tonight. The details are ahead.



COATES: We have more breaking news tonight. Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar was carjacked in Washington, D.C. Tonight, according to his office, they say he was not harmed in the incident. CNN's Manu Raju joins me now on the phone. Manu, this is unbelievable.

RAJU (via telephone): Yeah, a terrifying incident that happened about 9:30 this evening. Congressman Cuellar was parking his car in the Navy Yard neighborhood not too far from the Capitol. Three armed men came up to his car. They approached, uh, his vehicle, and then he was carjacked at gunpoint.

His phone was stolen. His iPad was stolen. Even his (INAUDIBLE) was stolen, according to his office. Of course, his car was stolen. Police say that the suspects are still at large. They're searching for the suspects along with the vehicle. The congressman, though, was not harmed, according to his office.

Of course, (INAUDIBLE) shaken up by (INAUDIBLE), Laura, as we've seen some violent episodes (INAUDIBLE) members of Congress as well. Angie Craig of Minnesota last year was punched in the face at an elevator in her apartment. Staffer of Senator Rand Paul was stabbed last year as well.

So, members of Congress are not immune to violent episodes and crime here. It is not uncommon to members of Congress to be out and about in a busy congressional week. They're out in the evening, they have fundraisers, they have dinners and the like.

This incident is a scary one for long-time Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar. But, as the office says, he's not harmed despite this incident (INAUDIBLE), but something that a lot of members are talking about tonight, this busy time on Capitol Hill and this scary incident for the congressmen.

COATES: Three armed carjackers. Manu Raju, thank you so much. Really, really scary. Thankfully, the congressman is okay, but it does expose a real issue in the nation's capital and other cities across the country.

Up next, hardline GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz making good now on his threat to try to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The real question is, will Democrats offer McCarthy a kind of a lifeline? That's the question for Congressman James Clyburn, next.



COATES: Well, new tonight, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz filing a motion to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House. Now, McCarthy is now the first speaker in more than 100 years to face this kind of challenge. The fight comes on the back of McCarthy managing to reach a deal and a 45-day stopgap bill to head off a government shutdown with, of course, the help of Democrats.

Now, sources tell CNN that McCarthy will need to rely on Democratic votes in order now to keep that gavel. Here's Congressman Gaetz earlier tonight.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): He doesn't have my support anymore, and he doesn't have the support of a requisite number of Republicans to continue as the Republican speaker. Now, he may continue as the House speaker and he may continue as a speaker of the Democrats in some sort of uniparty coalition, but he is not going to be a speaker in power as a consequence of Republican votes.


COATES: If you thought things ended there, McCarthy posted to "X," bring it on. And Gaetz, with the last word, replied, just did.

Joining me now to discuss McCarthy's future and this new move to oust him by Congress and Matt Gaetz, Democratic Congressman James Clyburn. He is the assistant Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. Congressman Clyburn, thank you so much for joining me this evening.

As you have seen, and we've all been watching this, republican leadership is in chaos, for lack of a better term. So, are Democrats going to try to help rescue McCarthy and ensure that he actually keeps that gavel?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me. I don't know the resolution or whatever you might call it was introduced tonight. It will go through the regular order of things. Our caucus will be meeting on its regular schedule tomorrow morning. I suspect Leader Hakeem Jeffries will bring us up to date on exactly what may be going on between him and the speaker.

So, nobody knows where this is going. It's a civil war within the Republican Party. I don't know that Democrats are obliged to help with that. I do feel, though, that the country's business needs to get done. We know that on international front, there's a lot that needs to be done about Ukraine and other places with NATO. There's a lot that needs to be done on the domestic front.


CLYBURN: And we should be thinking about the people and put these political issues behind us. We'll just have to wait and see.

COATES: Well, certainly there is a lot of work to be done for the very reasons you've named.


One of the, you know, impediments to that, of course, is the politics and being able to have function, not dysfunction, in Congress. But in terms of McCarthy, for him to be the speaker of the House in particular, you're going to meet tomorrow morning as a part of leadership and discuss these aspects of it. Would Democrats offer McCarthy a kind of a lifeline? And what could Democrats possibly demand in return? Because it is, in some respects, maybe a game of leverage, sir.

CLYBURN: Well, I think that the work we saw with the vote for the continuing resolution was a bipartisan approach to this. For anything to get done going forward on the House side will require a bipartisan vote. And so, I think that if this civil war continues, it will be time for Speaker McCarthy, as I've been saying for several weeks now, to sit down with Leader Jeffries and discuss how we can do in the bipartisan way the nation's business.

COATES: Has he been refusing to this point, Congressman, to meet with Jeffries on these important issues?

CLYBURN: Oh, I have no idea. I doubt very seriously that the lines of communication have been closed. I think they're wide open. I have not been privy to any of those meetings, but I'm sure something has taken place between the two.

COATES: Well, speaking of conversations that are happening, Congressman Clyburn, your fellow congressman, Matt Gaetz, is alleging that Speaker McCarthy made, his words, a secret side deal with President Biden on Ukraine funding. Now, you've already spoken about the international issues that have extraordinary gravitas. Now, Speaker McCarthy denies that secret deal. Has a deal been made on Ukraine funding?

CLYBURN: I have no idea about that as well. If there's a secret between the speaker and the president, it's a secret.

COATES: Has there been a discussion between yourself as member of leadership and Hakeem Jeffries and McCarthy, or is it any conversation happening about Ukraine?

CLYBURN: Not that I know of. I'm sure that the president has made it very clear that Ukraine is -- the funding for Ukraine is something that he wants very badly, and I cannot see him agreeing to anything but funding for Ukraine, maintaining our place in the NATO alliance and maintaining our leadership role around the world. So, it's no secret that that's what the president wants, and I doubt very seriously if he's going to agree to anything that falls short of that.

COATES: Now, speaking of agreements, for the second time in three months, congressman, the government has been brought really to the brink. And the only problem and the problem is only being pushed to now, what, 45 days from now, the can has been kicked. For a lot of people looking at this issue, they're wondering why can't Congress work together to solve the problems in real time in an expedited way? What's the answer?

CLYBURN: Well, I don't think this is unusual at all. I tell people all the time --

COATES: Well, that's the point, isn't it? It's not unusual. It's every year about the 11th hour.

CLYBURN: Yes, that's the way we do things. And if it didn't start with this Congress, then it's not going to end with this Congress. The history of the country is such that a democracy sometimes gets a bit messy. And we have to really give everybody an opportunity to be heard.

I tell people all the time, if you're looking for efficiency in government, you want one-person rule. If you're looking for effectiveness in government, you want everybody to come to the table. And so, the more people you bring to the table, the more discussions you're going to have, the more opinions want to be put forward, and then you will have a harder time bringing together. Nobody wants one- person rule, at least we shouldn't.

COATES: A very thought-provoking point indeed, Congressman James Clyburn. Thank you so much for joining us this evening.

CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me.

COATES: Well, you heard Congressman Clyburn. He says this isn't unusual and people do need to be heard. But my next guest is a former GOP congressman who has a very different message for his party. It's grow up.



COATES: Well, a shutdown narrowly averted again, only to create a war within the Republican ranks. It's a drama we've all seen before and -- well, we're likely going to see it again. But today, one former Republican congressman has a message for his party. Grow up.

Former South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis joins me now. Congressman, thank you for being here. I read your very compelling "New York Times" op-ed in which you have a strong message for your colleagues in the House and the Republican Party, to grow up. I wonder if that is your message tonight to them and to Matt Gaetz in particular.

BOB INGLIS, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, it is. You know, I think that you can't expect to get exactly what you want in Congress. And to do so is to just misunderstand that it's out of many one. You know, that's our national motto.


And so, it's really sorts of missing the point of that, I think, and acting a little bit like an authoritarian separatist. You know, sort of like my way or the highway. He wants to be separated from what is the governing majority.

COATES: In some respects, politically, that has been fruitful and that may be one of the reasons people believe that they can do that. But you wrote candidly about what you see as your own shortcomings, you say, when you were in office. And so, what do representatives and the country lose when people govern in that philosophy of us versus them?

INGLIS: Yeah, we really have gone way down that lane, haven't we, of saying that the other side is evil, you know, and full of demons and the others that we must slay. That's really a dangerous thing. I mean, it's okay to disagree with people and to present your views, but this demonization is what got to change.

I think what it is, you know, it works because you can play to the activists in your own party --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

INGLIS: -- and they feel, oh, great, we've got a gladiator up there that's going to go fight for us in this terrible war we've got going on. Well, that's no real way to run a country, you know, because we all face these big questions.

You know, we got huge demographic change, technological changes coming at us, climate change, of course. All these things are real. We got a terrible deficit in debt. All these things we need to address, and they're probably going to be addressed together rather than pulling apart.

COATES: As you say, E pluribus unum, out of many, one. We'll see if your party and frankly all members of Congress heed your logic. Thank you so much, former Congressman Bob Inglis. And for your piece in "New York Times," thank you so much.

INGLIS: Great to be with you.

COATES: Well, thank you all, everyone, for watching. Our coverage continues.