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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

House Still Without Speaker After 11 Failed Votes; President Biden to Visit Southern U.S. Border This Weekend; Docs Describe Hamlin's "Remarkable Recovery" After Cardiac Arrest; Source: Idaho Suspect Sterilized Car, Put Trash in Neighbor's Bins. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 06, 2023 - 05:00   ET




REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It's not how you start, it's how you finish. If you finish well, we'll be very successful.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, Kevin McCarthy not finished after losing the House speaker vote 11 times.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do not -- do not just show up at the border.


ROMANS: President Biden with a message to migrants as he gets ready to see the crisis up close.

And the wrong moves made by the accused Idaho killer. What investigators secretly watched him do and how it helped crack the case.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Happy Friday, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

The House of Representatives reconvening again just hours from now without a speaker and no known path to picking one.

Lawmakers have tried and failed for three straight days to elect a new leader. The longest that has taken in, get this, 164 years. Will it be Kevin McCarthy in the end? He's the choice of most GOP lawmakers, but even after making major, major concessions to his hard right opponents, McCarthy can't seem to lock in the 218 votes needed to win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: No, no, I'm not putting any time line on it. I think we have progress going on. I think we've got movement so we'll see.


ROMANS: More now from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eleven times in a row, Kevin McCarthy has failed to get the 218 votes he needs to be elected speaker. It has been 100 years since a speaker's race has gone to multiple ballots. It's been since the mid 1800s since it's gone for this many ballots.

And Kevin McCarthy is not where he needs to be. The 218 votes he needs to be elected speaker. But behind the scenes he has been negotiating. He and his allies, along with some of those holdouts, to try to assuage their concerns, to try to bring them over to his side.

He has proposed a number of measures to give them more power, give the rank and file members, especially members of the far right, freedom caucus, some of those members denying him essentially the speakership, giving them more power, more say over the legislative process, the ability to call for a vote, to oust a sitting speaker. Now under the rule proposed by McCarthy, one member can do that. That is down from conference rules that about half the Republican conference, 111 members initially able to do that. McCarthy has gone down to one member to assuage his concerns about keeping the speakership stable assuming he gets the job.

Now, McCarthy is speaking to them soon after the final failed vote on Thursday. He was confident he would ultimately get there. He just didn't know when.

MCCARTHY: The entire conference is going to have to learn how to work together so it's better that we go through this process right now so we can achieve the things we want to achieve for the American public, what our commitment was. So if this takes a little longer and it doesn't meet your deadline, that's okay because it's not -- it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

RAJU: But even if a deal is reached with some of those dissidents and McCarthy and his allies, that doesn't mean he's going to get to 218 votes right away. There are other members with concerns. They're going to work out an agreement with those members who have those different areas of concern. Can they get there with those members after cutting those deals? That still remains to be seen.

So if he does get this deal, he's got some more work to do which means a lot of people think this is going into next week at least to see if McCarthy can get the votes, if not, maybe even beyond.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: Amazing. A fight for financial security, economic security and good governance, right, in the United States.

All right. Today on the second anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, President Biden will award 12 people the Presidential Citizens Medal. This is one of the highest civilian honors. They include law enforcement officers injured defending the Capitol, of Capitol Police officer who died the next day, poll workers who rejected efforts by former President Trump to overturn the 2020 election results. Basically did their job well under all that pressure.

All right. President Biden will visit the southern U.S. border this weekend, his first stop there as president. President also expanding a program to accept up to 30,000 migrants a month. At the same time, the administration will tighten restrictions on asylum seekers who enter the U.S. illegally.


BIDEN: And until Congress passes the funds, a comprehensive immigration plan to fix the system completely, my administration is going to work to make things better at the border using the tools that we have available to us now.



ROMANS: CNN's Jasmine Wright is live in Washington.

Interesting he said use the tools available to us right now. Of course, these tools are given to the administration by Congress and Congress can't get to work yet because of all the drama that's happening there. Separately though, what's behind the timing of the border trip?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, Christine. Well, the president said he wanted to wait until the courts figured out Title 42, that Trump era pandemic policy that allowed officials at the border to expel migrants more quickly during the pandemic. But, of course, that is now stalled in the court.

But the reality here for the president, Christine, is that the border continues to become a political liability for this White House, and that's why you've kind of seen this surge of attention from the White House, not only that executive action that you've just described but, of course, a visit to El Paso by the president on Sunday, something that he has not yet done as president.

So this is really a momentous occasion for him as he is kind of going to Mexico in the next few days. Now, of course, this executive action that he is taking is kind of walking a tight rope. Of course, it is expanding migration by 30,000 people from those key areas, Cuba, Venezuela, other areas per month. But it is also promising more consequences for those who try to circumvent the -- circumvent the rules that he's putting in place, really trying to appease both sides, the immigration advocates but those who continue to slam the White House for what they say is open border policy, something that the White House continues to say is not.

Now, of course, this is happening in the backdrop of two things, the president on Monday is going to Mexico his first time as president, really trying to lean on that country to do more to house migrants that continue to pass through Mexico to come to America as, of course, we are dealing with a surge on the border. And then, of course, Title 42, what we talked about just a few seconds ago, that pandemic era policy.

Now, the White House had been bracing for a surge when Title 42 is expected to be lifted last month. Now, that has stalled in the courts as it is going to the court process. They put an administrative hold on it while it's working its way through.

But still, the White House wants to be prepared for that inevitable possibility that it could be lifted. So, we're seeing President Biden do some of that work right now, which includes his trip to El Paso on Sunday, really trying to see up front what it is like for those migrants. So he's going to be going to different facilities trying to immerse himself in that experience while also trying to send a message that the border is not open and folks should not be coming along unless they're within these new policies that he's just set out -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jasmine, nice to see you this morning. Have a great weekend. Thank you.

All right. The NFL has canceled the Bills/Bengals game that was suspended after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. The league also planning a tribute to him in a ceremony before each of the weekend's games. Meantime, doctors have told the team that Hamlin has shown remarkable improvement in the past day, great news there.

CNN's Ryan Young has more from Cincinnati.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The news is very encouraging as we are all up to date at this point and extremely grateful.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The good news teammates and fans have been waiting for. Damar Hamlin showing some improvement today as the buffalo bills, head coach and quarterback are speaking out for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's news was a lot of tears of joy, I'll tell you that.

YOUNG: Both reacting to the positive news that Damar Hamlin's medical team delivered earlier in the day.

DR. TIMOTHY PRITTS, UC HEALTH DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY: It appears his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that. Very happy for him and for his family and for the Buffalo Bills organization. This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care.

YOUNG: While Hamlin remains in critical condition and on a ventilator, he's able to communicate with written words. Doctors revealing one of the first questions Hamlin asked.

PRITTS: Last night, he was able to emerge and follow commands and even asked who had won the game.

JOSH ALLEN, BILLS QUARTERBACK, TEAM CAPTAIN: To see Damar go through that and to come out on the other side and still again just think about his teammates, that's Damar. That's who he is though.

YOUNG: Shocking details were also shared about Hamlin's understanding of what happened to him.

PRITTS: He was -- expressed surprise that he had been, you know, not with the world for two days.

YOUNG: Doctors describing how Hamlin's supportive family never left his side.

PRITTS: Like them to stay. We wish everybody had parents as wonderful as his parents are.

YOUNG: Hamlin's father even taking the time to meet with the team yesterday.

SEAN MCDERMOTT, BILLS HEAD COACH: His message was the team needs to get back to focusing on the goals that they had set for themselves. Damar would have wanted it that way, and I'm paraphrasing, and so that includes our game against New England this week.


YOUNG: As for immediate next steps for Hamlin's recovery, doctors are staying focused on his day-to-day progress.

PRITTS: I want to get him breathing completely on his own. That will be the next big milestone for him.

YOUNG: But a much less definitive answer from doctors when asked about the return to the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's entirely too early to have that conversation.

YOUNG: Really a big mood change when it comes to Damar. The fact of the matter is, when it comes from the coach to the quarterback the doctors seem happy with how he's progressing. Even the idea he was able to write down whether he had won the game or not.

So, this is progressing in a completely different way. The mood has changed because people believe the kid is going to pull through.

Ryan Young, CNN, Cincinnati, Ohio. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Ryan, thanks for that.

Right now, a deadly winter storm is battering California communities with ferocious wins and torrential rain. A Sonoma family lost their toddler when a tree fell on their home and a 19-year-old woman died when a tree crashed on her car in a flooded road in the north. Thirty- five million people, that's about 90 percent of the state remained under flood threats.

Santa Cruz County on the coast reeling as piers are broken and the wharf evacuated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had the first big wave come over the wall and come into our garage and bring debris underneath the cars and dump about six inches of sand in the driveway here.


ROMANS: Gusty winds knocked down trees, statewide, cutting off power to thousands.

All right. New details emerging about the killings of four Idaho University students. A law enforcement source tells CNN quadruple murder suspect Bryan Kohberger was seen multiple times outside his house in Pennsylvania wearing surgical gloves and cleaning his car inside and out. He was also spotted putting garbage bags in his neighbor's trash cans. Kohberger just made his first court appearance in Idaho.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Accused of four murders.

JUDGE MEGAN MARSHALL, LATAH COUNTY, IDAHO MAGISTRATE: The maximum penalty, for this offence, if you were to plead guilty, or be found guilty, is death, or imprisonment for life. Do you understand?


TUCHMAN: Bryan Kohberger sitting in a Moscow, Idaho, courtroom, zero visible emotion on his face.

Just before his initial court appearance began, the unsealing of the probable cause affidavit, with disturbing and damning information regarding the brutal stabbing deaths of the four University of Idaho students.

JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE CHIEF: There was other people home, at that time. TUCHMAN: Two other roommates were in the house on the morning of the killings and it wasn't clear if they were aware something was not right. Now we know at least one of them did know something bad was happening. A roommate with the initials DM said she was in her room and heard crying. The affidavit prepared by a Moscow, Idaho, police corporal had the disturbing detail.

She opened the door after the third time and a figure clad in black clothing and mask that covered the person's mouth and nose walking towards her. DM described the figure as 5'10" 5'10", taller, not very muscular, but athletically built with bushy eyebrows. The male walked past DM as she stood in a frozen phase. The male walked towards the back sliding glass door.

DM locked herself in her room after seeing the male. DM did not state that she recognized the male.

DM's description helped provide valuable information when police found a Hyundai Elantra in an apartment building 15 minutes across the state line in Pullman, Washington, and learned the owner matched that description. And the affidavit has this damning set of details. The police officer saying as he entered one of the bedrooms, I could see two females in the single bed of the room. Both Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen were deceased with visible stab wounds.

I also later noticed what appeared to be a tan leather knife sheath laying on the bed next to Madison Mogen's right side. The sheath was later processed and had Ka-Bar, which is a company that makes Military and tactical knives, "'USMC' and the United States Marine Corps eagle globe and anchor insignia stamped on the outside of it.

The Idaho State lab later located a single source of male DNA left on the button snap of the knife sheath.

And according to the affidavit, last week, Pennsylvania agents recovered the trash from the Kohberger family residence located in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania.

DNA from Kohberger's father was retrieved. Police say the father's DNA proved that what they found in the murder house is the son's DNA.

Police have determined the murders were carried out between 4:00 AM and 4:20 AM.

The affidavit also stating that signals from the accused killer's cell phone indicated he drove near the victim's home 12 times between June of this year and the day of the killings.

MARSHALL: We are adjourned.

TUCHMAN: These details only add to the pain of the victim's family members. Some of whom were in court.

SHANNON GRAY, GONCALVES FAMILY ATTORNEY: It's obviously emotional for the families seeing the defendant for the first time. This is the beginning of the criminal justice system and the family will be here for the long haul.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Another disturbing detail in the affidavit. Authorities say that a cell signal from the alleged murderer was detected about five hours after the murders were committed in the very same neighborhood.


The inference is the alleged killer went back to the scene afterwards.

A couple of things not in the affidavit include motivation for the killings and also if the alleged murderer knew any of the victims.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Moscow, Idaho.


ROMANS: Tough story. Gary, thank you.

Still ahead right here -- a chaotic scene as a jail inmate busts out of a prison van.

Plus, Vladimir Putin calls for a short cease-fire but Kyiv calls it something else.

And brothers or bitter rivals. What Prince Harry calls Prince William in his brand-new memoir.



CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: No persons having received a majority of the whole number of votes cast by surname, a speaker has not been elected.


A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.

A speaker has not been elected.


ROAMNS: You get it. Kevin McCarthy 0 for 11 now in his bid to become speaker. The House reconvenes at noon today.

So, what happens next?

Let's bring in Lindsey McPherson, "CQ Roll Call" senior congressional reporter.

So nice to see you again, Lindsey. You know, it's clear the stalemate will affect ordinary Americans. You have financial security, economic stability, oversight of Congress. I mean, these are important things, Wall Street, Main Street, Washington all care about.

At what point might Democrats pitch in to vote for a moderate Republican for speaker to try to end the stalemate and get the country back to having a working government?

LINDSEY MCPHERSON, CQ ROLL CALL SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: I think we're a little ways off from Democrats helping Republicans. They are making progress on the Republican side and Democrats don't want to have to step in here. To some degree they do want the Republicans -- obviously they do want the whole Congress organized, especially before their committee staff, for example, that won't be paid after January 13th if they don't have a speaker, but they are making progress on the Republican side. So, I think Democrats will hold out longer to see what happens there.

ROMANS: What about the holdouts? So will the holdouts or, you know -- vote for McCarthy, will they vote present that will lower the threshold? I mean, what are some -- game out some of the things that could happen here?

MCPHERSON: All right. So the main thing that's happened in the past 24 hours is that Kevin McCarthy has provided some new concessions to his holdouts. He provided them specifically in writing yesterday evening I think around 5 p.m. is when lawmakers said they were able to start seeing this in writing, some of the things he was offering.

For example, they had demanded both a balanced budget solution, they had demanded votes on congressional term limits. McCarthy agreed to those things. They also talk about the amount of process for spending bills because they had a problem with the way Congress has approved appropriations. They want to cut spending.

So, there's an agreement to allow open amendments on amendments that would cut spending on appropriations bills, things like that. I'm sure it's been widely reported now by this motion to vacate, which is the procedure for ousting a sitting speaker and the threshold at which a member could force a vote on that. That's been dropped down to one which is what it used to be before Democrats took control. And that was a big demand that the holdouts had made that was also agreed to. So, they are making progress there. Some things in the negotiations

that aren't yet resolve. But if they're working on them, there might be some Republicans who start voting for McCarthy today. So, that's just the key thing to watch today. Does he start to chip away at that opposition? And if he was, that could provide momentum for a larger deal.

ROMANS: He's certainly making concessions as you can see. It's been likened to a hostage negotiation. So, you know, he's given them the five pizzas, the million dollars and the gassed up plane but gotten nothing in return so far. So, we'll see if there's some movement today.

Lindsey McPherson of "CQ Roll Call", thank you.

MCPHERSON: Thanks for having me, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Quick hits across Americas now.

Police in New Orleans are investigating a shooting that left two people dead and three others injured Thursday night. No suspects and no known motive yet.

South Carolina's stripped abortion ban struck down by the state Supreme Court. The 2021 law banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually six weeks into pregnancy. The court said the law violated the state's constitution's right to privacy.

All right. Stunned witnesses watching an inmate escape from a prison transport ban in Tyler, Texas. Authorities say he broke into two homes while handcuffed and on the run. He was recaptured.

Coming up, some old fraud accusations giving Congressman George Santos some new trouble. And the son of El Chapo arrested in Mexico.



ROMANS: All right. Ukraine is skeptical of Russia's call for a 36 hour cease-fire to mark the orthodox Christmas believing it is a ploy to resupply and regroup.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Now they want to use Christmas a as a cover to briefly stop the advance of our guys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilize men closer to our positions. What will this bring? Just another increase in the death toll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is one word that best describes that, and it's cynical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that there's significant skepticism, both here in the U.S. and around the world right now.


ROMANS: Let's go to CNN's Scott McLean live in Kyiv, Ukraine for us.

Scott, how do Ukrainians view the official line from Kremlin?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very skeptically, Christine. Merry Christmas from Ukraine today.

Right behind me is St. Michael's Church here, where there's a prayer service taking place with the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for members of the military and they will need all of the prayers they can get because frankly there is no expectation from the Ukrainian side that anything will be changing today along the front lines.

And already, we are hearing from my colleague, Ben Wedeman, who is in eastern Ukraine right now that they have observed both incoming and outgoing.