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Erin Burnett Outfront
McCarthy Will Not Run For Speaker After Historic Ouster. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 03, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And, good evening. I'm Erin Burnett, along with Wolf Blitzer tonight.
And welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT because we are following the breaking news, and a major development at this hour because we are just learning that Kevin McCarthy will not run for speaker of the House again -- will not run. A major decision coming after he made history, the first speaker in American history to lose his job, as just only eight members of his own party sealed his fate.
His firing has plunged the House into complete chaos, all work grinding to a halt, the party bewildered and uncertain what to do. No clear successor is in sight at this hour.
But we do know that house Republicans, as Wolf and I are sitting here, are behind closed doors in a pivotal meeting, one that is sure to be heated, Wolf, if what we've heard about recent meetings before all of this is any indication of where we are right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's a very significant development. We are standing by for details. McCarthy's removal puts an end to his term, which was just 269 days as speaker of the House. That makes his term the third shortest in U.S. history.
We have a lot to cover over the next hour. And I want to start with CNN's Manu Raju. He's OUTFRONT live here in Washington.
Manu, first of all, tell us more about what McCarthy is now saying to his fellow Republicans.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he's stunned his colleagues, Wolf, in this meeting, just down the hall from where I am at the moment, saying that he will not run for the speakership again.
I just talked to Congressman Ralph Norman about this. He said that the members did not expect that, and the meeting abruptly ended. He said that the speaker wished everybody well. He did not endorse a successor, but indicating that he will not run for the speakership again, really, a fall for the speaker who had planned -- Kevin McCarthy had planned to fight this out. He had indicated that if he were to be ousted from the speakership, as he was today, that he would fight this or potentially go to the floor, be ready to grind it out. He had suggested that.
But in recent days, he has not said explicitly, and coming to the realization that there is virtually no path for him to win, as long as those holdouts within his conference decide to vote against him. Democrats are expected to vote for Hakeem Jeffries to be the next speaker. Republicans can only afford to lose four Republicans in order to be re-elected speaker.
Eight Republicans today voted against him. The math simply was not there for Kevin McCarthy. We will hear more about his thinking in just a matter of minutes. He will speak to reporters.
But this meeting that members were trying to figure out what was next was a very brief one, as the speaker came in, said he is not running. McCarthy came in and said he is not running to become speaker again. And now Republicans have to figure out what's next.
They have to get behind a speaker. Otherwise, the House will remain in a state of paralysis. No legislation, the committees can't move forward on their investigations, nothing can happen until this badly divided Republican conference can come behind a consensus candidate.
We'll see how quickly that emerges here, Wolf. But a momentous decision during a historic day of Kevin McCarthy being the first-ever speaker pushed out of office by the House, and now saying he will no longer be a candidate for speaker as this party tries to figure out where to go from here, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Manu, I just want to precise. So, we're now expecting that McCarthy will emerge from this Republican conference meeting where you are, and he will meet with reporters and answer their questions, a formal news conference coming up in the next few minutes?
RAJU: Yeah, that's right. We expect that around 7:30 Eastern Time that he will talk to reporters, answer questions, and perhaps provide some thinking about what happened here, what happened on the floor.
And I can tell you, Wolf, in talking to some of the McCarthy allies, they will be distraught about this decision. Of course, he had the support of virtually all of the conference. But given the narrowness of his majority, just a handful of members, more than four could disrupt his speakership at any time.
He tried to align with those hard-right members from the beginning of the conference, beginning of this Congress. And after he was elected from 15 ballots, he had to make a whole number of concessions.
But perhaps the one that sealed his fate was the big concession, allowing one single member to call for a vote seeking his ouster. And that's exactly what Congressman Matt Gaetz did that forces the ouster today. Now, as a result, Kevin McCarthy is out as speaker, no longer will run, and Republicans have to figure out what's next.
BLITZER: And we'll, of course, have live coverage of Kevin McCarthy's news conference coming up this hour. So everybody stand by for that.
Manu, thank you very, very much.
BURNETT: And you see Manu getting ready to speak with Congressman Garcia. We're going to be bringing the former Speaker McCarthy's news conference to you live when that begins any moment.
Joe, former congressman, you knew him.
All right, this is Congressman Gaetz. Let's listen to Gaetz now.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): On our appropriations bills in electing a new speaker. I was very disappointed that Mr. McHenry said that we won't be engaging in the people's work until next week, until Tuesday of next week. I think that's burning a lot of time.
RAJU: Just to make clear, so he said that the House is leaving town until next Tuesday and that the speaker's race is going to be then?
GAETZ: Yeah, it was very disappointing. I think we should stay, we should work. I think we should have a speaker election this week. I think we could easily come together as a conference to do that.
And, so, I just hate when we pause the clock. I hate when we stop our work and don't do the people's business.
RAJU: Who are you going to get behind as a candidate?
GAETZ: I don't know who the candidates are.
BURNETT: All right. When Manu -- Manu can't hear me right now. I do want to get some more clarification as soon as we can on that because -- okay, Manu, can you hear me now?
RAJU: Yeah, yeah. I can actually hear you.
BURNETT: What did Congressman Gaetz just tell you, that Patrick McHenry told him that there isn't going to be a vote on this until Tuesday?
RAJU: Let's get a -- Mr. Good, Mr. Good, Mr. Good, just get a clarification here because Mr. Gaetz, we're live on CNN right now. Mr. Gaetz just told us that McHenry just said that the House will not be in session until next Tuesday. At that point, is that when we expect the speaker's race? What did he disclose there?
REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): What Mr. McHenry said was that can -- pardon me, candidates would have the time, opportunity to make their intentions run for speaker known, and to socialize that and to meet with folks, and we would come together Tuesday evening to have a candidate forum for those who are interested and that we would hope to vote on a speaker on Wednesday.
RAJU: So the speaker's race on the floor will be Wednesday, but you have to nominate someone one Tuesday. GOOD: To clarify, he said we would have a meeting Tuesday night to have a candidate forum and allow those candidates to make their case. And then we would hopefully, use that term, hopefully vote on a speaker on Wednesday. And I don't know if that would mean within conference Wednesday or within conference Tuesday night or on the floor. So, the certainty was Tuesday night for a conference meeting to have a candidate forum.
RAJU: What is your reaction being one of the eight members who pushed Speaker McCarthy out, his decision here to not be a candidate again for speaker?
GOOD: I thanked Speaker McCarthy for his service. My position on the situation was well-documented. So --
RAJU: But do you feel like you're going to be marginalized within this conference? You were one of a very small minority who set this into paralysis.
GOOD: I believe it was best for the country. I will say there has been a blow dealt to the status quo, and if Americans are concerned that things don't seem to change in Washington with $33 trillion national debt, a $2 trillion deficit, a federal government they believe is weaponized against them, oppressing them, not working for them, and that things, again, just seem to stay the same, I think this is a step in the right direction. Thank you.
RAJU: So, Erin, I don't know if you're still with me here, Erin.
BURNETT: Oh, I'm with you.
RAJU: Just to break down all of this developing news as we hear it. So, according to both Congressman Good and Congressman Gaetz, two, of course, of the people who pushed Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership, the House is going to be out of session, essentially, until next week as candidates will emerge to become the next speaker of the House. It sounded like Republicans will meet again on Tuesday and then come Wednesday is when they would expect there to be a vote.
It's unclear based on what good just said about whether or not there will actually be a full vote in the full House for a speaker's race or simply if the GOP conference would nominate their candidate for speaker.
But typically what happens in leadership elections, first there is a nomination process among the conference. In order to get nominated speaker, you'd have a majority of votes within your conference, and in this case that would be a majority of the 223 members in the House GOP conference.
But the trick is you need to have a majority of the house to become elected speaker. That is what Kevin McCarthy ran into. 218 members of the full house, as Democrats will vote for Hakeem Jeffries, and 218 members of the 223 house Republicans vote for the next speaker candidate.
That is an open-ended question. As you can see here, there is no consensus candidate at the moment.
There will be candidates that will emerge that will try to get support from their own conference. But that is something that will begin to play out now that Kevin McCarthy has made that very significant decision of not running again for speaker of the House after being ousted on this right-wing revolt led by Congressman Matt Gaetz as a result now Republicans are trying to figure out what's next as they head into critical votes next week -- Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, critical votes, there's nothing else being voted on.
Manu, very much.
To make the point clear here, there is nothing happening in U.S. Congress, there is no speaker, there is no business, there is no nothing. And they have just admitted, Congressman Walsh --
JOE WALSH, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes.
BURNETT: -- that they have no plan and nobody ready and to the extent that they are going to go away for a whole week and have no Congress because they can't get their business together.
WALSH: And it sounded like a candidate forum, it sounded like they were having a bake sale next Tuesday night.
Erin, the entire conference is in shock, both sides, all sides. And I think the only thing that makes sense to me in doing this, in waiting a few days, because the House is closed now, is there can't be a fight for speaker. There's got to be one vote, one ballot, and it sounds like they want that all tied up by next week.
BURNETT: What they're admitting, though, Alyssa, is that they know they're nowhere close.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're nowhere close. The stunning lack of urgency, I think, is going to just send shock waves through the American public, let's take a week to sleep on this.
BURNETT: To socialize.
GRIFFIN: To socialize.
BURNETT: To socialize.
GRIFFIN: Heaven forbid something like a natural disaster happens that requires an emergency declaration by Congress or some sort of business that needs to be taken care of in the next week.
Listen, I think we can kind of expect what we're going to see. I would keep my eyes on Elise Stefanik. She's got the conference chair title so she's got a big staff behind her. She's a big fundraiser. Donald Trump likes her. Keep your eyes on Steve Scalise. The person who would make the most sense probably is someone like a
Patrick McHenry, who's been more a figurehead. He's an institutionalist, he knows how to count votes, let's just keep the ship running. I don't think that's what it's going to be.
And, by the way, Donald Trump has remained silent on all this, or largely silent. I think at some point he's going to have to put his finger on the scale of who it's going to be there, and they're going to spend the next week rather than doing the people's business, jockeying for that endorsement.
WALSH: That's the takeaway. You've said it, we've all said it a million times, the house is shut down. They're not going to do anything.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, no impeachment inquiry continues. You can't have declarations of war. These are big things.
Basil, it is interesting, and I want to mention here that we are waiting any moment the former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to speak to reporters. The way Manu described it, he walked into this room, stunned his colleagues, said not running, not endorsing a successor, abruptly ended the meeting.
BASIL SMIKLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Why would he do anything more? He's probably looking at everybody and saying, my god, look at what you did to me. But he did it to himself.
We saw this coming. Everyone that watched it saw this coming that there's no way that he could be able to hold onto this position which he was seemingly flayed 15 times to be able to actually assume that position.
And I have to say this, what did Democrats do today? What Democrats did today was open the door for a Black woman to be sworn in as senator, Laphonza Butler. That's governance, that is a peaceful transition of power. And that is Democrats saying, you know what, we know how to govern, we are the party of good governance.
They made history today in a way that Republicans --
BURNETT: And she was, of course, sworn in to replace Dianne Feinstein from California.
SMIKLE: Republicans made history in a very different way today and they have put the American people in jeopardy because no business is getting done in the meantime.
BURNETT: One crucial thing that keeps coming up is the reality that the reason Kevin McCarthy was in this position was that he gave up one crucial thing. He said that one person alone would be able to bring up a vote on whether to oust him as speaker.
Usually in a negotiation once you give something up, it's really hard to get it back. How do you ever take that away? How does the next person who wants this job say, well, I'm not willing to give that up, when that's already been given up?
JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, there's the old saying that we can never blame our enemies for doing what they will expectedly due. When you give up that type of power to one person to effectively light fire to the people's house, as we just saw here, then you can expect this result.
I think I'll push back against my dear friend Basil, this little bit, because I do think that if you're looking at what happened today, two things happened. I think, number one, McCarthy, in his own way, demonstrated how he was able to become speaker of the house in the first place by suffering 15 times, to be able to hold that community together.
And then, once again, putting the American people first, because if you look at it through that perspective, if Democrats decided in closed conference to effectively let it burn, the it that is burning is not just Republicans. Republicans are parcel and part of America.
It is America that is burning. And in many ways --
BURNETT: And in that sense you're seeing that on Capitol Hill right now and the anger and frustration among Democrats and Republicans, many of whom Manu Raju is speaking to.
Manu, we saw you speak to Congressman Good, Congressman Gaetz. You got a chance to speak to Congressman Jordan.
What are you hearing from others as they come out of that room?
RAJU: I tell you, this is actually an interesting interaction that I just had with Congressman Jim Jordan. I asked him, will you be a candidate for speaker of the house. He said that is a decision for the conference.
Now, why is that significant? Because before when Kevin McCarthy was running for speaker, he flatly ruled it out. He said I only want to be the House Judiciary chairman. He would say that over and over again.
RAJU: Clearly, not ruling out the possibility of running for speaker. Congressman Jim Jordan, someone who has a sizeable amount of support with this, particularly among some of those hard-right members, the same members who pushed Kevin McCarthy out and has the support of a lot of McCarthy allies.
Jordan himself was a staunch McCarthy advocate. He just told me that he thought what happened to McCarthy was very, very unfair, but, notably, not ruling out the possibility of running for speaker.
So, there will be candidates who emerge. We'll see if Steve Scalise who is the number two, was the number two before Kevin McCarthy, was pushed out, he is seen as a possibility. Tom emmer, the current Republican whip, what will he do? Elise Stefanik, another member of the Republican leadership team.
We'll see if -- Mr. Roy, are you considering running for speaker at all?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Right now, we just got to figure out what we're going to do.
RAJU: Who do you want to run? Who do you want to run?
ROY: We just got to move forward for the American people.
RAJU: So, Roy there, I don't know if you caught that, but he basically said that we're going to have to have a discussion with the people.
This is really the situation that we're in, that there are just -- so much uncertainty about who can lead this conference, who has the support to do it, who can go after -- handle some of these members, those same holdouts. I talked to one congressman, Austin Scott. I'll see if -- Mr. Perry, do you have a candidate in mind for speaker right now?
REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): I don't. I'm waiting to hear them.
RAJU: Scott Perry, he's a chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
BURNETT: They just say waiting to hear, Manu?
RAJU: He did not -- he was not one of the one to -- yeah, he's waiting to hear. He was also eating a piece of pizza. He said that he was waiting to hear. He said that he was waiting to hear. I said, do you have a candidate in mind? So, he said, I don't.
So there is a ton of uncertainty about how this will play out, what candidates will emerge, who eventually will get the nomination to become the next speaker of the House. But there is just also so much anger.
I talked to one Congressman Austin Scott, who railed on what he called eight anarchists. He said the next speaker needs to go after these eight anarchists, of course, calling those anarchists, the same -- members of -- those Republicans who voted to oust Speaker McCarthy, that is just the sentiment amongst so many McCarthy ally -- so many McCarthy allies here who believe that he was treated unfairly, undercutting everything they were trying to do as a Republican majority, this chaos right now worried about the impacts on the majority, their ability to hang onto it and keep their own, and also the basic essence of governing.
And that's why it is so critical electing the next speaker of the house. If you don't have one, nothing happens in this chamber. The question is who will emerge as that candidate?
BURNETT: Manu, what I find amazing in each of these conversations that you're having is the person they kicked out as leader, they all look to, to lead in that room and said, see you later, I'm done, I'm not running again, go figure it out.
And then Patrick McHenry says they're coming back in a week, next Tuesday night to have a little meeting, a forum he called it, and then maybe a vote the next day. But it's unclear what that was.
I mean, is it stunning to you, Manu? Are they stunned coming out of that room finding out that there is no plan, there is no person, they have no idea, and Congress is going to shut down for a week?
RAJU: I mean, the problem with it, and in talking to a lot of these Republicans, there just isn't much -- are a lot of members who simply don't want to run this conference because they know they can be very much in the same position as Kevin McCarthy. I mean, they had to do some of the basic things such as keeping the government open by mid- November. That is a basic function of congress. There is no clear sense on how that could get done. What McCarthy did ultimately ended him out of the speakership.
So they just not -- they hadn't really made any contingency plans even though it had become clear for days that McCarthy was -- didn't have the votes to stay as speaker, because there were questions about whether McCarthy would fight this out. He kept saying, we could ask -- Mr. Comer, Mr. Comer, Mr. Comer, what -- who do you want to see run as speaker? Do you have a candidate in mind?
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Yeah, this is all so sudden. I want to get with the members of our conference and try to get a consensus because we've got to work together as a team.
We've got a lot of things that we need to accomplish. We've accomplished a lot. There's a lot yet to be done.
RAJU: Is the impeachment inquiry stalled until there is a speaker?
COMER: Absolutely. We're going to continue to read emails, text messages, put together timelines, try to get people to come in.
RAJU: But you can't do anything until there's a speaker.
COMER: Well, I think we can. We're going to keep working like we've been working and continuing to follow the money.
RAJU: Are you considering running for speaker yourself?
COMER: No. I'm lucky to be in Congress.
RAJU: What did you think --
COMER: You enjoyed (ph) that, weren't you, Manu?
RAJU: What did you think of what McCarthy, his comments in there, and what is your reaction to everything that went down today? COMER: Well, I mean, obviously I supported McCarthy. I -- you know,
one of our criticisms of what was about to happen was what is the plan. So obviously there was no plan.
It's unfortunate. I came in when Paul Ryan was speaker, and I can tell you, there's transparency, there's more communication, we're working together under Kevin McCarthy. I mean, my colleague Thomas Massie said it best on the floor, I agree with everything Thomas Massie said, I didn't serve with Boehner but I served with Paul Ryan and I think we had made some positive changes.
At the end of the day, and I said this on Newsmax last night, I'll say it on Fox tonight, it's hard to get to 218. It is hard to get to 218.
And, for me, I would vote for the most conservative spending bill anyone could put forward. But if you can't get the 218, then you have to adjust. So the problem with the 6 to 11 is this top line number, if you can't get to 218 in the House, it's a problem.
RAJU: Can anyone run this conference?
COMER: I think we're going to have to be a little more realistic. But there are a lot of people that can run the conference. We're all replaceable. But --
RAJU: There are members who will just never go along with certain things.
COMER: We're going to have to. And I think that people will go home and hear from their people. And at the end of the day, people want us to govern. And we've done a good job governing.
We just have a disagreement on spending. There are people that want to make significant cuts. I consider myself in that category. And there are people that want to increase spending.
So, at the end of the day, part of governing is coming together and forming consensus. That's not something the people on the far left or the far right like. But that's just the way it is.
And I think Kevin did the best that he could. We averted the shutdown. We had some positions that I think should've been suitable. Jim Jordan led on a continuing resolution with the border issue. I thought that would have been good. That's one issue that I think even in blue cities they agree we have a border crisis.
RAJU: But you don't have a candidate in mind right now?
COMER: I don't think anybody does. I mean, this is -- this is all uncharted territory.
RAJU: Thanks for your time.
So, as you can see -- as you can see, Erin, a lot of questions still including from the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Him not being a candidate, but who is still a question from all these members who are emerging from this meeting.
BURNETT: Congressman Comer seems confused as to whether an inquiry can continue. Of course, the business of Congress itself cannot continue without a speaker.
All right. Manu, thank you very much.
As Manu continues to talk to congresspeople walking by in the hall, and we are anticipating a press conference from former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, I'm joined now by Republican Congressman Warren Davidson from Ohio. He agreed to move forward with the vote to oust McCarthy, but then he did vote to keep him as speaker.
Congressman, I want to ask you about that decision in a moment given what's happened in just these past few hours. But you just came out of the meeting with the speaker. Were you as stunned as others have described themselves by how abruptly he ended it, announcing that he will not run again?
REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R-OH): No. I expected that if he did not succeed in the motion to vacate, if he came up short of the votes, that that would probably be his reaction to it. I consider Kevin a friend. I'm very thankful. I think he did make a very good faith effort to unite the conference.
And I nominated him in January. I voted for him on the floor today. And, as I've said, I will fight alongside Republicans to do anything.
But I'm not going to surrender the agenda, you know, go alongside anyone. And, frankly, that's how Kevin went out. He said -- you know, Democrats approached me about cutting a deal. I'm not cutting a deal. I'm not cutting a deal with the far extreme people that just moved this. That was his words or a description of it.
And I think he said, look, he went out on his terms. I think his point is the agenda has to be bigger than one person. So, surely, there is somebody in our conference that can unite 218 people and say -- and that's where it goes. It's more important than who the person is. It's what is it that we are committing to work together to accomplish.
BURNETT: And, Congressman --
DAVIDSON: And I think if we focus on that, we can get this done.
BURNETT: So a couple questions. Congressman Comer just said I don't think anybody does when Manu asked him if he had any who would be the next speaker. We're hearing that again and again. Chip Roy, I'm waiting to hear. I mean, people seem pretty stunned in that they don't have an idea where this is going.
Do you have an idea where this is going? Do you have a preferred person that you think should be the next speaker?
DAVIDSON: Well, I think my point is I think that's the wrong sequence. I think what we have to come together, Erin, is, what is it that we intend to accomplish? What exactly is the mission that we're committing to? And then we choose who's the best leader to accomplish that mission.
And I think that really is the path to uniting us, because, look, people aren't taking this well across the conference. There's a whole kind of sense of loss and grieving. And I think the challenge, part of what I said to colleagues -- I tried to broker a compromise between Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy Sunday and Monday. And unfortunately that didn't work out.
Because I really feel like we do risk our agenda, because if there's a deal cut with Democrats, our agenda is gone to the wind. So we have to come together as Republicans. And so let's agree on what that agenda is. And if we can do that and the person that kind of helps unite the conference in that, that's probably who will emerge as the leader.
BURNETT: So, one thing I have to ask you, Congressman, though, about your role in all of this, and you're talking about how you tried to broker a deal between Gaetz and McCarthy. Fair enough. You voted to keep McCarthy as speaker, ultimately when it came down to that vote, you voted to support him. But that vote wouldn't have happened if you had not also wanted to move forward with the resolution to oust McCarthy.
Do you regret that? I mean, did you think that that was just going to be sort of a symbolic vote? And then McCarthy was going to stay in place, because obviously you voted to keep him.
DAVIDSON: I knew the vote count going in, frankly. So my vote didn't change. There were two separate questions. And the motion to table is a parliamentary gimmick to avoid the underlying question.
And the motion to vacate is a privileged resolution. If you remember the speaker fight, it was prominent in the negotiations as to who would be speaker. Frankly, in the conference rules going into November, December time frame, we had a debate about making it so that the conference could move to vacate, but only with a majority of the conference.
What Kevin did as part of the negotiation to become speaker was move to five people could move to vacate to ultimately one person could move to vacate.
BURNETT: One, uh-huh.
DAVIDSON: So the idea of avoiding that question would've left everything still simmering. And the reality is you could have the same bloc of people take down every single rule we put on the floor.
DAVIDSON: So there really is no path to govern once you've got -- no you longer have the majority. We only have the majority as long as we work together as a party. BURNETT: So, the other thing that I think is stunning, and I think it
should be stunning to the American people, and I don't know if you expected this or not, but Patrick McHenry saying that basically Congress is going to go home for a week to socialize were his words so that possible candidates for speakers could socialize their candidacies. And then there would be a forum a week from tonight among Republicans to discuss that. And then maybe a vote the next day unclear whether that vote would be among Republicans or exactly when that would happen.
Do you think it's acceptable that Congress basically shuts down for an entire week so your party can figure out who should be the speaker?
DAVIDSON: Well, I thought it wasn't. That's why I didn't support the motion to vacate.
And, look, I think Patrick McHenry made a wise decision. I think a lot of people were caught flat-footed by that because I think we all expected to come in and kind of a grief session. People need to vent, and I think Patrick just decided that really isn't going to be productive.
And when people are angry, they say things in a way that isn't taken well, and words kind of cause setbacks and divisions. And I think probably the right call, as I sit there and processed it, I was surprised by it.
But I think it was wisdom by Patrick to say let's give us some time and space, let everyone go through this in their own way, they'll meet with their friends. They'll meet with their colleagues. Maybe they'll reach out across the aisle.
And the person that can start to build that coalition might be the person that emerges as the person who can be the next speaker.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman Davidson, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
DAVIDSON: Thank you.
BURNETT: And, of course, Wolf, as they have those conversations just to emphasize, the people's business will not be done, Congress will not be doing anything for the American people.
BLITZER: Truly an historic moment right now, all the chaos in the House of Representatives. We've been hearing from a bunch of Republicans.
I'm joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin from Michigan. She is joining us right now.
First of all, let me get your reaction to the news that just came out a little while. And we're standing by for this news conference from Kevin McCarthy, Representative Kevin McCarthy is no longer the speaker.
If I have to interrupt you to go there, you will, of course, understand.
What's your reaction to his announcement already to his Republican colleagues that he will not seek to k about the speaker again?
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, I'm a little surprised because we had heard repeatedly from Republicans as we left the floor today that he was going to try again, they were going to try and convince some of the Republican colleagues to flip, that we were going to go through another round of votes for a long time to the point where people on the Republican side were worried how long it could go. So, obviously he's decided not to go that way, and that's a surprise.
BLITZER: What's your -- hold on a second. Here he comes. Here's Kevin McCarthy. Let's hear his statement.
And then he will take questions.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You know, President Abraham Lincoln once said, "I'm an optimist because I don't see any other way."
You ever come to my office, you will see the portraits of Lincoln and Reagan. And I firmly believe, if Reagan gave us advice, he would say, if you believe your principles bring people greater freedom, you should be happy about it.
I have always been excited that I have been a happy conservative. But I have always believed that I have been so fortunate to be an American. My journey to this office was something people wouldn't understand.
I grew up in the town of Bakersfield, California, the son of a firefighter, the grandson of immigrants. Parents worked hard, the youngest in my family. Didn't have great wealth, and got out of high school, I didn't have great grades. Couldn't get a scholarship, went to community college.
Flipped cars to try to pay my way through it. Went to visit some buddies, away -- college for a weekend, stopped at the grocery store to cash a check, and I won the lottery. I won the first in California. This was before Biden economics. It was only $5,000, but it went much further back then.
Took my folks to dinner, put the majority of the rest of the money into the stock market and did pretty well. The next semester, I took a break from school. I went to buy a franchise, but no one said they would sell me one, because I was only 20 years old.
But I learned then never to give up. So I opened my own business, selling sandwiches. Three things I learned, first to work, last to leave, last to be paid.
I wanted to finish my college degree. At that time, no one in my family had finished a four-year degree. I did pretty well. I now had enough money that I could pay my way through school as long as I went to Cal State.
So, I sold my business, go into school. I opened up the local paper and said, be a summer intern in Washington, D.C., with my local congressman. I did not know this man, but I thought he'd be lucky to have me, so I applied.
And you know what he did? He turned me down. But you want to know the end of the story? I got elected to the seat I couldn't get an internship for. I ended up being the 55th speaker of the House, one of the greatest honors. I loved every minute.
The one thing I will tell you is, doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it is necessary. I don't regret standing up for choosing governing over grievance. It is my responsibility. It is my job. I do not regret negotiating.
Our government is designed to find compromise. I don't regret my efforts to build coalitions and find solutions. I was raised to solve problems, not create them.
So, I may have lost a vote today. But, as I walk out of this chamber, I feel fortunate to have served the American people. I leave the speakership with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and, yes, optimism.
From the day I entered politics, my mission has always been to make tomorrow better than today. I fought for what I believe in, and I believe in this country of America. My goals have not changed. My ability to fight is just in a different form.
You need 218. Unfortunately, 4 percent of our conference can join all the Democrats and dictate who can be the Republican speaker in this House. I don't think that rule is good for the institution, but, apparently, I'm the only one.
I believe I can continue to fight, maybe in a different manner. I will not run for speaker again. I will have the conference pick somebody else. I hope you realize that, every day I did the job, regardless whether you underestimated me or not, I wanted to do it with a smile.
I grew to enjoy you, even on your toughest days and your questions. I could always tell what day it was, based upon your question.
MCCARTHY: Monday, you would ask if I could pass the bill. Tuesday was whether the rule would pass. Wednesday was the greatest challenge ever to my speakership.
And Thursday, when we passed the bill, you didn't think it was a very big deal. Then it all started again on Friday.
You know, I wouldn't change a thing. I do believe I got a new portrait in there, too, of Teddy Roosevelt. You all know the man in the arena, one of my favorite parts of it, who errs, who comes up short again and again, but there is no effort without error and shortcoming, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who knows the triumph of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
I always like to take a risk. Saturday, I took a risk for the American public. Regardless of what anybody says, no one knew whether that would pass. The Democrats didn't want that bill. Yes, they pull a fire alarm. Yes, they do their conga line. Yes, they wanted to delay. But it was all for the American people. I could not look the troops in the eye and say I would not pay them.
For those who spoke on the floor, I thank them for their positive talks. I don't know what those who voted against and said they were -- some deal, they were never a part of any deal. For those who said about what we accomplished, I'm proud of what we accomplished, from the Parents Bill of Rights to our energy bill. But if they want to hold me liable because the Senate didn't take it up, or the president didn't take it up, that's politics for what I know.
But the one thing I do know, this country is too great for small visions of those eight. To any child that are listening and who are coming to visit the Capitol, this is a place I want you to visit. I liked opening the Capitol back up again. I liked taking away the metal detectors. I liked committees being able to work. I liked people being able to visit. I hope you like being able to be back in. I think it was important that -- that members actually show up to work as well.
You know, to paraphrase Lou Gehrig, he said, I might've given a bad break, but I truly still consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. There is no other country that you could rise to be the 55th speaker, not get an internship, and be able to fight for the American public. So it was my greatest honor to be able to do it. I love my conference well. I love to be able to ability (ph). I've been a part of the leadership team for quite some time. We won two majorities.
As leader, I'm proud of the fact we only gained races, only gained seats. I'm proud of the fact as a Republican leader we elected more women, we elected more minorities, we expanded the base. I'm proud of the fact that for the five years I leadered two election cycles, we gained five more seats in California, five more in New York. We won in places no one thought we could win. The same thing you would underestimate me, you always said we'd lose each time around. We kept gaining.
I intend to make sure we gain and keep the majority in the next cycle as well. With that, I look forward to your positive questions.
MCCARTHY: Well, I'll look at that.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: You still obviously made a lot of loyalty within the
conference. We've heard you say approximately 10,000 times that you would never give up. So I'm wondering why not -- why make the decision to not to put your name forward again and try to grind it out like you did when you won the job in the first place?
MCCARTHY: You know, you need 218 for the rule, 218 to move forward. And I'll never give up on the American people. That doesn't mean I have to be speaker to do what I have to do for the American people. There's a lot of things I could do for the American people. But, you know what's interesting, everybody's sitting there, in today's world if you're sitting in Congress and you took a gamble to make sure government was still open, and eight people can throw you out a speaker, and the Democrats who said they wanted to keep government open, I think you've got a real divide. I think you've got a real institutional problem.
Interesting, it was in this room, after we had won the majority I had become speaker-less. And Nancy Pelosi came to me. She was speaker at the time on the way out. And I told her I was having issues with getting enough votes. And she said, what's the problem. I said, they want this one -- one person who can rule you out. She was the only speaker to have changed that rule. I had the power to call the vote on her, but I never would. I lost some votes because of it.
And she said, just give it to them. I'll always back you up. I made the same offer to Boehner and same thing to Paul because I believe in the institution. I think today was a political decision by the Democrats. And I think -- I think the things they have done in the past hurt the institution. They just started removing people from committee. And they just started doing the other things.
And my fear is the institution fell today, because you can't do the job if eight people, you have 94 percent of -- or 96 percent of your entire conference, but eight people can partner with the whole other side.
How do you govern? And for them to make a motion on me because I made a decision for the country that they agreed with, but they choose to do the other. That becomes a problem.
REPORTER: Are you planning on endorsing a successor to you? And --
MCCARTHY: I might, I might.
REPORTER: You might?
MCCARTHY: Yeah. I don't know who's running yet. I'll talk to people.
REPORTER: And when you look back, is there anything you could have done differently to -- with those eight members --
MCCARTHY: Yeah, a lot of -- a lot of them I helped get elected. So I probably should've picked somebody else.
REPORTER: Why do the 200 (INAUDIBLE).
MCCARTHY: You know, we --
MCCARTHY: You know, I love these 200. They've gone through so much. They're down in the conference. They will -- they want me -- they'll say they're going to keep voting for me.
I think you should put the country first. You know, this job was never about me. I hope you felt that, that this -- that I always felt what can we do best to move forward?
I mean, I -- I treated Hakeem the way I wanted to be treated. I'd tell him things we were doing throughout so he never -- so he never was questioned.
I wanted to bring the body back differently. We created a Select Committee on China. I changed the Intel Committee. They just came back from MIT, where they all had bipartisan briefing on AI and quantum. Start doing briefings with AI the whole conference, of Republicans and Democrats alike.
We're far from solving that problem, but I'm proud of what we were able to do there. So we'll continue.
MCCARTHY: You know, not all those eight, but these are the same people that never voted for me. They thought it was big they went to present after we went through 15 rounds.
Why do I do something for myself that can hurt the country? Why create -- I'm not quite sure those individuals are looking to be productive. It concerns me as a Republican based upon watching what they do.
I want to be a Republican and a conservative that governs. And we're going to have to find a way to do that. The challenge is we had so many opportunities. These are the same people that sat on the floor and criticized me that we didn't get all 12 spending bills done.
But we first had to do a debt ceiling that they didn't support. They held up every appropriation bill in the summer because they wouldn't let it come through. After the debt ceiling, they stopped us from doing anything on the floor.
When we had a continuing resolution that would do something on the border, I listened to one talk about how it made them think about the border, and when he voted against it. And then they wanted to challenge me because I worked with the other side so America could go forward and government could stay open.
You know, if you have to lose for something, I will always lose for the country. It is a much better battle to have.
MCCARTHY: Change the rules.
REPORTER: Do you regret a lot of that rules being in place, sir?
MCCARTHY: Do you think I let it? I mean, for the whole point, I mean, if you talk about -- like Gaetz. Gaetz came to the whole conference and said we will never use this. We'll never use this, you know?
This is a man that sat there on the 14th vote and said, okay, I'm going to vote for you next time and falls back, and not. So, I mean, it's just -- the trustworthiness of a lot of individuals makes it difficult.
But I do not think regardless of who the speaker is that you should have that rule. You know, everybody had it but Pelosi. But it was never used until it started getting used against Boehner.
And if the entire -- if you can always count on the other party to vote in a bloc against it, then you're allowing four to five people to control whatever. So it doesn't matter even if you have 96 percent. So, that is not a government that works. That is chaotic.
REPORTER: Is there a --
MCCARTHY: Yeah. Okay, go right ahead.
REPORTER: I hear you talking about the challenge of governing, challenging (ph) a Republican. I'm wondering what this means, what it says about the Republican Party?
MCCARTHY: I don't think it says about the Republican Party. I think it says something about some people who are not a conservative.
I mean, if you were a conservative and you only had one entity making the battle and you vote against securing the border, you vote against cutting funding -- this wasteful spending and then you partner with all the Democrats. Now, you'll phrase it all the other different ways, that's not a conservative.
Look, you all know Matt Gaetz. You know it was personal. It had nothing to do about spending. It had nothing to do about -- everything he accused somebody of, he was doing. It all was about getting attention from you. I mean, we're getting e-mail fundraisers from him as he's doing it. Join in quickly. That's not governing. That's not becoming of a member of Congress. And regardless of what you think, I've seen the texts, it was all about his ethics. But that's all right.
QUESTION: Just clarifying, we're looking from the first question. Are you considering resigning?
MCCARTHY: No, I said I -- he asked about that. I haven't thought about that, I said.
QUESTION: You thought about it?
QUESTION: And then, just -- where are you placing the blame? You said an institution --
MCCARTHY: No, no. Look, look, look, look. No, no, no. I'm not going to blame anybody. There's not blame anywhere. Look, I give it as good as I get, right? So, you know the challenge, I knew going in, you would take a poll all the time, is he going to get thrown out this week?
But you know what, if I lose my job over doing what I truly believe what's right, I'm very at peace with it. You asked earlier, like, when did I decide? I knew they would make the motion on me. It didn't make one bit a difference. I felt very comfortable in that decision. And I think the American public believed that decision was right.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the Republican the conference?
MCCARTHY: That's the conference's decision.
QUESTION: Mr. McCarthy, now, you mentioned that you were moving to (INAUDIBLE) in another way. Would you consider having a position somewhere in Congress, whether in leadership or chairman (INAUDIBLE) about?
MCCARTHY: No, no, no, no. I -- there's a lot of great people in the conference. There's always other people to do jobs. It is amazing the talent that we had. And the one thing I've always hoped as speaker that we lifted more of that talent up. I look at people doing a lot of different jobs and the different opportunities, they are doing an exceptional job. We have so much talent. It is remarkable. Yes?
QUESTION: Is this kind of in your mind a little bit preordained from the beginning? Obviously, it's a much more narrow majority than what you've anticipated, what Republicans consider 15 rounds along the speaker's race (INAUDIBLE) and --
MCCARTHY: I made history, didn't I?
QUESTION: Well, you did do that, yes. But was that kind of always thought of inevitably (INAUDIBLE) because of the narrow majority and because of (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCARTHY: Well, would any of you think if it took that long and you had one person, you knew it was always a possibility. So, that was fine. It didn't bother me. It didn't change any of decision I made. But what's interesting, I read a tweet the other day of Matt Rosendale. He goes to mass every day. But you know what he said his prayer was all last year? That Republicans didn't have a big victory, that they had a narrow victory.
When you have members like that that are part of your team, you got a tough team. You know, look, when I was in business, I got to hire and fire who worked with me. Somebody else hires them, somebody else fires them. My job was to inspire them. I think we did some good work. And I think we'll continue to do great work. Yes, sir?
QUESTION: Can you reflect back on 2010 when you guys were the guys, right, you, Paul Ryan --
MCCARTHY: And Eric Cantor. Yes.
QUESTION: Now, all three of you guys have been essentially --
MCCARTHY: Well, we're not that young anymore.
QUESTION: Well, you've been -- all three of you have been pushed out by so-called more conservative members.
MCCARTHY: No, let's be fair, and it's wrong that you ever say. They are not conservatives. They voted against, one, the greatest cut in history that Congress has ever voted for (INAUDIBLE). They voted against work requirements. They voted against NIPA reform. They voted against border security. They voted against guns. They don't get to say they're conservative because they're angry and they're chaotic. That's not the party I belong to. The party of Reagan was if you believed in your principles, that you could govern in a conservative way. They are not conservatives and they do not have the right to have the title. Yes?
QUESTION: You were in the (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCARTHY: Why do you say that? Because your question doesn't hold true to history. When Donald Trump was president, we did tax reform.
You can look at all of our different successes. So, I mean, you may dislike the policy, but we've been very successful. You watched the Abraham Accords. I mean, you can go victory after victory.
The price of gas, we were energy independent at the time. We had more businesses growing at the time. We didn't have to evacuate our embassies. You know, it's easy on its merit to see the difference of what Biden has destroyed America to what the policies we're able to create. Yes, sir?
QUESTION: Hi. Can I ask you, what about your conversation (INAUDIBLE)? What did he ask from you and what were you asking from him?
MCCARTHY: No. We didn't ask for anything.
QUESTION: You didn't have for anything at all? You didn't ask anything (INAUDIBLE) inquiry or anything like that?
MCCARTHY: No, no, no. And, you know, I have a lot of respect for Hucking (ph). He wants to win the majority. I heard what they said in conference, you know, why would they vote for me if I've won every time as leader? I raised 70 percent of all the money. It's an opportunity for them. The real question to the eight, why would you enable and allow the Democrats to do it? That's the question. Yes?
QUESTION: So, you're making concessions to those (INAUDIBLE).
MCCARTHY: What concessions did I make?
QUESTION: Well, you could lean towards Democrats to give them --
MCCARTHY: To what?
QUESTION: -- (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCARTHY: Look, I'm not going to -- no. I'm a Republican. I win by Republicans, and I lose by Republicans. It's not that way. And so, did I work with -- I believe you should work across the aisle. I work across the aisle at times. Do I want to make the bill the most conservative as possible? Yes, that's the goal.
It's difficult when you can't get 218 for the conservative bill. And then they want to challenge you when you went and solved and kept the government open. Yes, sir?
QUESTION: The last few months you've been a fireball as the debt ceiling crisis, the government shutting down.
MCCARTHY: We did pretty well, didn't we?
QUESTION: How big of a risk do you think a shutdown is in November without you as speaker?
MCCARTHY: Other people can do the job. You know, it's interesting. I've never received so many texts from so many senators about how big a play we just did the other day, or how many congratulations about the debt ceiling. I mean, if I would go back to days before the debt ceiling, none of you even thought I'd get a meeting with the president. All of you would have asked me, is it going to fall off the cliff?
At the end of the day, we worked an agreement out. Some of those people got mad about it. But two-third, the highest number of Republicans ever voted for a debt ceiling. When you had it, and you only negotiated based upon the deal we win, that was the moment they wanted to go after and that's what they continued to follow.
QUESTION: Do you think the (INAUDIBLE)? MCCARTHY: Yes?
QUESTION: The (INAUDIBLE) negotiating (INAUDIBLE).
MCCARTHY: You should. Look, government is designed that you have to have compromise. No. You can't get everything that you want. You know, you got a House. You got a Senate. But you had more to the question?
QUESTION: Well, that's fine. My question was just going to be that so many criticisms leveled on you today by both Democrats and by Republicans. Is that perhaps have been too transactional?
MCCARTHY: In which way?
QUESTION: More to the fact that you did you work --
MCCARTHY: In which word did I not keep? Name one thing did not keep?
QUESTION: Gaetz says that there are several --
MCCARTHY: From -- no, no, no. Tell me. What did Gaetz say? What did I not keep in Gaetz's mind? Because Gaetz had never been a part of a discussion. Just because Gaetz said something, don't believe it's true. I haven't heard him say one true thing yet.
MCCARTHY: On what?
QUESTION: The debt ceiling.
MCCARTHY: On what?
QUESTION: On the debt ceiling.
MCCARTHY: That is not true. So -- no, no, no. If you're going ask if question, you're going to say it. Tell me how I did something different on the debt ceiling bill? Any of you. Tell me what I did different on the debt ceiling that I didn't keep my word?
QUESTION: You said it was (INAUDIBLE).
MCCARTHY: Is it not a ceiling? OK. This is the problem. OK. No, no, no, no, no. When you agree to spending levels, that's the maximum amount you can spend. This is what is wrong with Washington. Because it's the height that you can spend, you can also spend less. We're a different body. So, did -- does any of you believe then the Senate broke their word on the debt ceiling? Because they spent more than the limit. But somehow, I'm wrong because I want to save the taxpayers' more money? We're our own body. I have two children. If I give them each $100 for dinner and one spends $100 and one spends $80, am I going to yell at the one who spent $80 and say, oh, my god, you've got to spend it all?
It's not our money. And why am I getting criticized because I'm fighting for the American people that we can eliminate waste? And you know what? We're our own body. So, if we can pass the bills and the Senate can pass the bills, but they pass them higher, but they haven't passed anything, somehow, I'm wrong?
I kept my word. I did not spend over the limit. They broke their word.
QUESTION: You don't feel you're too transactional...
MCCARTHY: OK, you use the word -- how was I transactional?
If you ask a question, I want you to show an example.
MCCARTHY: Give me an example.
QUESTION: Well, the definition is basically "this for that"...
MCCARTHY: So what did I do this for that?
QUESTION: Well, on the -- on Ukraine, on the C.R. You've been talking about leaving it in, leaving it out, and then finally...
MCCARTHY: No, no, you're making no sense. What transactional -- no, no, I did no transactional. I tried to pass a conservative stopgap measure that secured the border and actually cut spending. When that didn't go, the only bill that was going was sitting over in the Senate that had a stopgap measure, disaster and Ukraine.
I made a decision as speaker to keep the government open, and I put something on the floor. And let me get this straight to all of you. Because someone said -- 72-hour rule, I'm the only one who's lived by it. We're the ones who created it. We never broke the 72-hour rule.
The bill I put on the floor was a suspension, which takes a two-thirds vote. And you know what? You can put a suspension on a rule. And you can waive it based upon the leadership. That's exactly what I followed.
So my question to you is, when somebody says something, don't take it that it's gospel. Why don't you ask them to point?
When Gaetz said I didn't follow -- show me one place. You saw Massey, Thomas Massey, who is the hardest-line person, say we followed all the rules, all the time, that he was in the room when the agreement was made, and then we surpassed what we said we would do.
So if you ask me a question, I'm going answer back because, when it's not true, it's not fair.
QUESTION: How important is it that the speaker of the House be a member of the institution? Some members are floating that...
MCCARTHY: They always float some other...
QUESTION: Is that important?
MCCARTHY: Yes, you had -- OK, first of all, you've got to be in the institution to understand how it works. And, look, it's legal to have somebody else. I just do not think that would ever be good.
MCCARTHY: Do I regret?
MCCARTHY: You start with this question. Well, I...
MCCARTHY: I don't think you've ever been positive on one yet. But come on. I have high hope. This is going to be exciting.
QUESTION: You've been rubbing off on me.
MCCARTHY: That's a good thing.
QUESTION: But do you regret not reaching out personally to people like Nancy Mace, Tim Burchett, who sat down on the House steps today and told reporters that you said something condescending to him...
MCCARTHY: OK, let's get through this. I personally like Tim Burchett. And I called Tim Burchett because I read his quote. And Tim Burchett's a friend of mine, which I'm, kind of, shocked by this. And Tim Burchett, in his quote, said he's "leaning towards no" -- he's on CNN -- but "I'm going to pray about it."
So I pick up the phone and call him because I didn't think he was already there. I said Tim, "I read your quote. You said you were going to pray about it. I wanted to talk to you about it."
And somehow he construes that -- I'm a Christian. I'm not going to offend somebody for -- I simply read his quote back. I thought there was still an opening, and I wanted to talk to him about it. He never mentioned anything when we were communicating like that, and he said it.
Nancy Mace is a whole 'nother story, OK.
MCCARTHY: Let's just be honest here. This is the one that -- I just got a -- I just got a text from her primary opponent saying, "Why did you spend $3 million?" But...
MCCARTHY: ... I called Nancy Mace's chief of staff yesterday, and...
QUESTION: She didn't like that.
MCCARTHY: Because I called the chief of staff?
QUESTION: Yeah, she wanted you to call her. It wasn't good enough.
MCCARTHY: Well, she was on "The View" saying I didn't keep my word. So I didn't know what to do.
MCCARTHY: ... I can't say this in a press, but OK.
MCCARTHY: But so I -- I...
MCCARTHY: No -- you keep it among yourselves, right?
QUESTION: This is like (inaudible) without the (inaudible).
MCCARTHY: Wait until my book.
MCCARTHY: No. So I call her chief of staff because, I don't know, maybe I don't connect her with something else. But I just said to him -- I said, "Can you please tell me; I don't understand; where have I not kept my word?
You know what her chief of staff said? "You have kept your word, 100 percent."
Members come to me, and -- one thing, I don't like the idea tjhat a member comes and tries to leverage me. I don't -- I don't go for that. You know, I'll vote for the bill you -- that's not well. But if you have a problem with a bill, I want to help you.
But I can't sit there and write your entire bill and work it all the way through committee. We just got one bill out, and it came back. The other bill we're doing on guns, it just wasn't working, "Do you want to do something else?" We did something else.
I -- I just don't appreciate -- look, I bite my lip. I let people say things that are not true. But it's not right. It is not right. Her chief of staff told all of us we have kept every single one of our words. And he said he's told her that, too.
Now, if somehow he gets fired, I'll still get him a job.
STAFF: Last question?
MCCARTHY: Well, I'm being too honest now?
QUESTION: Your argument about the health of the institution might have resonated more with Democrats if not for your response to January 6th. Do you regret...
MCCARTHY: Oh, my God...
QUESTION: ... on January 6th?
MCCARTHY: No, but do I regret the Democrats playing games with January 6th? Yes. They -- they played so many politics. What they did to this institution, what they did to this building, was so wrong. The idea that they put magnetometers there, the idea that they would go to any Republican member that they had been co-sponsors of bills, and they no longer could be a co-sponsor, that they would fine members $5,000 if the magnetometers went on, but when Nancy went around it, or Clyburn got -- was supposed to get a fine, it all got waived, the idea that bills didn't have to go through committee, the ideas they created a Select Committee on January 6th and they wouldn't let the minority appoint who to do it?
Look, I'm trying to change all that and bring the body back so they can work together. But I think they did a lot of damage to us.
QUESTION: The House is trying to pass the appropriations bills one by one. Where are you guys in the (inaudible) process now that you're not...
MCCARTHY: Well, that -- that's always been my goal.
You know, I just talked to Mitch yesterday, and I had a call in to Schumer, and I talked to Hakeem last night. What I -- what I was going to do is, because we had passed -- we had taken five up. We passed four of them. I was going to start individually pre-conferencing so we can get this work done. I'm concerned with the timeline now.
Look, I truly believe, at the end of the day, we can get this all worked out. I do believe, at the end of the day, we can find common ground and do something about the border. I don't know if this has caused problems.
Look, I was doing "Squawk" today, and they had the other TV on MSNBC, and the first time I saw MSNBC running a whole story about the border, with people just walking across.
You know, Pritzker sent a letter yesterday about the immigration; Massachusetts governor, state of emergency; Connecticut. Everybody -- it's becoming the number one -- they cannot ignore it. And I had told my members all before -- I heard Gaetz say something on the floor that, "Oh, my God, Kevin asked for a stopgap measure when we came back."
The whole plan was, because those eight and a few more had held up passing any of these approp bills all summer, I was going to do just what we did Saturday, a stopgap measure with -- with disaster. I had gone out to Hawaii. We looked at what happened in Florida. Those people shouldn't be held back. And we could finish doing it all individually. But somehow they think that's a dirty word.
QUESTION: Have you spoken with your family since this all went down this afternoon, and...
MCCARTHY: Oh, yeah, we texted and called -- oh, you know, my poor mom.
Have you guys met my mom yet? My mom is fabulous. My mom's this Italian -- Italian lady. And she calls me the other day. She said, "Oh" -- she gets worried. She reads what you guys write. And...
... she says, "I'm so nervous. I'm so nervous."
I said, "Why, Mom? It's all right."
She said last night she went in the house and she left her car running in the garage all night long, right? And my mom only fills her car up once a week at Costco on Wednesdays and then calls me because the price -- she still lives in California. The price of gas is so high. She asks me what I'm going to do about it. But, look...
... I think this job is always harder on your loved ones than you yourself. So they'll be OK.
QUESTION: Did you make a side deal with the White House...
MCCARTHY: No. QUESTION: ... on Ukraine?
MCCARTHY: No. Look...
MCCARTHY: Unequivocally, no.
Oh, well, if you want to -- if you want to categorize this, let me -- because people think some big side deal. I did tell -- when we were doing the -- the stopgap measure, there was a concern in there, does it have transferability on money?
I believed and my staff believed it did. But what I did say to the White House, if it does not, if you think some way it doesn't do it the way -- I will fix that. I did say that, and I did say I'd do it.
Look, I support arming Ukraine. That doesn't mean sending them cash, but arming Ukraine. But I have been on the White House -- even before they sent this supplemental, I said, "You guys are doing it all wrong by just sending it as a supplemental."
And I think the president is failing here because he's not telling the American public what is the mission. Now, I have a -- we have a lot of members who are Navy SEALS, who have been in theater, and F-18 pilots, and they're frustrated. They want to support, but they don't want to support an ever-ending war. They want to see what's going on here.
And I've really been on the White House, "You've got to come down and talk to everybody, but you should listen to them and the prospects." I'm really concerned, though, long-term, what's happening around looks a lot like the 1930s. A lot of actions that Putin takes is very similar to Hitler.
If you -- if you are history buffs, you'll know, Hitler served in the World War I army, right? He hated that his country collapsed. And they signed the Treaty of Versailles. And what did he do? He ran and create a new party and ran in democracy again and again and again until he won. And when he won, what did he do? He took the freedoms away. And then he rebuilt his military. And even though it went against the Treaty of Versailles, the world power said nothing. And then what did he do? He took part of Czechoslovakia. He took Austria. And then he told the entire world, he's going to take the rest of it on a given day.
So now the world power could not sit back, so in come Neville Chamberlain. What did happened? Well, Hitler loved it because he was equal now to the world power. But he saw a weakness. Neville Chamberlain made him sign a piece of paper and told us peace for our time. And then he invaded Poland the next year. And World War II began.
If you study Putin, Putin didn't serve in the Soviet Union Army, but he served in the KGB. He hated that his country collapsed to the west. He hated it so much when Gorbachev died, he still didn't attend the funeral. What did he do? He rebuilt his military. But he learned something, a military makes you strong. But dependency makes you weak. He rebuilt it by selling his natural gas to Europe. But when his pipeline went through Ukraine, when they change power, he didn't want to pay. So he proposed a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2. Everybody loved it. America, at least, sanctioned it. Merkel said great.
But what did he do when we rebuilt his military? Invaded Georgia, took part of the Donbas, took Crimea. And the world powers really didn't say much. But then when he parked 100,000 troops on the border of Ukraine and after he watched Afghanistan collapse, that's going to give us challenges for the next two decades. He got his meeting with the world power. So in comes Biden. And what is Biden do? He lifts the sanctions off Nord Stream 2 but ask nothing for it. Putin misreads that and invade Ukraine, thinking it would collapse in two weeks based upon Afghanistan.
But now we have something even worse that's happened in the 1930s. Before Hitler moved, he created an axis of power, right? With Italy and Japan, all countries who want to expand their sphere of influence. Before Putin invaded Afghanistan, what did he do? Create an axis of power with China, North Korea, and Iran, all countries who want to expand their sphere of influence. So what we do here is very important. We can't sit there and just collapse it, because it looked from Afghanistan.
We can't just throw money at it. If we provide the weapons to be successful, but why it's so much personal to me, in 20 -- it was in 2014 or 2015, when Putin invaded the first time, I went to Ukraine, and then I came back. And I took a bipartisan group. And we went to the White House. And we sat in the Situation Room with then, the Vice President, who was in charge of Ukraine, Joe Biden. And we advocated let's sell them javelins, so they can stop tanks. So they wouldn't invade. He said no. They said, Europeans would want.
I said, well, why don't we sell them to them now and keep them in Poland? Didn't think that was right. And I fear of making the same mistake twice. And sending the wrong messages. But the thing I would tell everybody is, more Americans are dying on the southern border than are dying in Ukraine. Each and every day, a plane of Americans crash from fentanyl. And I don't understand how the White House continues to ignore it.
My whole plan, and I've been upfront from the very beginning what I would say, if you want anything on Ukraine, we got to do something with the border.
QUESTION: You mentioned earlier, you were helping get some --
MCCARTHY: I was joking. They're all right.
QUESTION: Considering supporting primary challenges to Republicans?
MCCARTHY: You know, one of the things when I was run for Speaker, I said, I couldn't get involved in primaries. But I told the conference, I'm a free agent. Now, aren't I. think I'm pretty good at electing people.
QUESTION: When is the last time you spoke to President Biden, and do you speak to him now?
MCCARTHY: You know, I was thinking about that. It's been a long, long time. I couldn't remember when I spoke to him last.