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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

House GOP Leaders Send Members Home For the Weekend As Government Shutdown Looks More Likely; Poll: 37 Percent of New Hampshire Democrats Want Someone Other Than Biden; President Zelenskyy Welcomed at White House, McCarthy Nixed Joint Address to Congress; Winds, Storm Surge Headed For North Carolina Coast. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2023 - 05:00   ET




Failure in America's House. Lawmakers sent home for the weekend with no plan in place to prevent a government shutdown with just seven days to go.

Plus, just released CNN polling from New Hampshire shows a third of Democrats want someone other than Joe Biden to be their nominee. The question is who?

And the week-old autoworkers strike against Detroit's Big Three about to get even bigger before the end of the day, unless there is a last- minute deal.


HUNT: Good day to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Friday, September 22. Just a few seconds after 5:00 a.m. here on the East Coast, 2:00 a.m. out West.

So how has your week at work been? You should be glad you're not Kevin McCarthy right now.

The House speaker had to send members home for the weekend without a clear plan to avoid a looming government shutdown. This was McCarthy earlier this week on Wednesday.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're very close. I feel I've just got a little bit more movement to go there. We're in a good place.


HUNT: I think it is pretty safe to say that he is not in a, quote/unquote, good place anymore. Here he was just hours ago after hardliners in the Republican conference once again scuttled his spending plan and handed him an embarrassing defeat on the House floor.


MCCARTHY: It is frustrating in the sense that I don't understand why anyone votes against bringing the idea and having a debate. It's a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.


HUNT: For a bit of perspective, since 1995, the House has failed to pass a rule only eight times. Now, a rule that sets up debate on the House floor. It's a key test of the power of the ruling party. So far in his eight months as speaker, Kevin McCarthy has already lost three rule votes.

Joining us now with more, Lindsey McPherson, the congressional reporter for "The Messenger".

Lindsey, good morning. It's great to have you here. I want to talk about McCarthy's predicament because right now, he is caught between his hardliners on the one side and his moderates who are starting to talk more and more loudly about trying to join with Democrats to keep the government open.

How does he thread this needle?

LINDSEY MCPHERSON, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: It's a very tough needle to thread, Kasie. It's been a difficult week for Speaker McCarthy. As you pointed out, he has thrown every plan at the wall, you know, allowed his members to work together. He's not really, you know, putting a bunch of his own ideas out there, he is letting they will in the room and talk it out.

But everything they come up with is just falling short when it comes to about a handful, up to -- about -- you know, started about a dozen but I think we're down to under about ten or so hard line conservatives who are opposing every plan that's thrown out. And they have come up with a new plan to just put aside what they were working on, which is a stopgap government funding bill, something that needs to happen before the end of the month, or the government will shut down. And then instead focus on their 12 annual appropriation bills.

Again, these do not help them get to the point of avoiding a shutdown, so they are in a really desperate place right now.

HUNT: Yeah, desperate is a pretty good word. And the reality is at the end of the day, keeping the government open is going to have to be a bipartisan endeavor because Democrats control the Senate. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took a procedural step in the Senate to keep, you know, his options open and be able to vote next week.

I want to show you what Schumer had to say and we'll talk about it on the other side. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: It is my hope that Leader McCarthy will be listened to, what I've been saying and frankly what the Senate has been doing. The only way, underline only, way to avoid a shutdown, is to make sure that you work in a bipartisan way.


HUNT: So there you go. Can McCarthy really do that? I mean, what are -- what are his options? If he works with Democrats, it is very possible if he does work with Democrats that there will be a significant challenge to his speakership. And yet, that's maybe the only way forward here.

MCPHERSON: Yeah, that's why he has been struggling because he knows if he does cut a deal with Democrats and goes around the hard line conservatives that some of them might vote to oust him. Specifically, Matt Gaetz has threatened multiple times saying that he will force a so-called motion to vacate to remove Kevin McCarthy from the speakership if he works with Democrats and cuts a deal on a stopgap spending bill.


HUNT: Right.

MCPHERSON: So, McCarthy seemingly wants to avoid that, but at this point, he is running out of options if he wants to keep the government open. And his choice really comes between -- down to this point between working with Democrats or having the government shutdown come October 1st.

HUNT: Yeah. What role, Lindsey, is Trump playing in all of this? Because we heard more from him this week kind of egging these hardliners on.

MCPHERSON: I mean, I think prior to him weighing in, obviously, these hardliners had their own opinions. They hear it from their constituents in their districts who are a big part of the Trump base. They don't like spending in Washington. They don't want to fund the DOJ.

And then Trump weighed in specifically to say that he doesn't want them to fund the Department of Justice and the prosecutions against him. He weighed on, I believe, it was Wednesday night on Truth Social. So that obviously is having an encouraging factor for the Republicans who already believe that.

So it is not helping things to say the least. I don't know how much more it's hurting things, but it's definitely not helping.

HUNT: Certainly adding something to the already nasty brew that McCarthy is having to deal with.

Lindsey McPherson, thanks for getting up with us on this Friday. We really appreciate your time.

And --

MCPHERSON: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: Of course.

And just into CNN, a brand new CNN poll shows more than one in three New Hampshire Democrats want someone other than Joe Biden to vote for. But it also shows that there is almost no interest in any of the actual possible alternatives, and the bottom line is you can't beat someone with no one. Senator Bernie Sanders got the most support, but he only came in with 7 percent. He is followed by just 5 percent for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. And then California Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Elizabeth Warren round that out.

We're going to have much more on this brand new poll later on in our show.

And coming up, Speaker McCarthy nixes photo-ops with Ukraine's president here in D.C., except behind closed doors.

Plus, what the Michigan attorney general just said in an interview about fake electors and she's getting some backlash for it.

And there's a new top dog at Fox. We'll tell you who Rupert Murdoch picked as his successor.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, it's an honor to welcome you back to the White House and the Oval Office.

And together with our partners and allies, the American people are determined to see to it that we'll do all we can to ensure the world stands with you.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Strong words, to all the Ukrainians from you. Thank you. Thank you, appreciate.

I started my day in the U.S. Congress to thank its members and to people America for all the big, huge support.

I felt trust between us. And it allowed us to have a frank and constructive dialogue, Mr. President. And this trust and support I felt from both chambers.


HUNT: President Biden standing metaphorically, literally sitting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Zelenskyy thanking America for their support after he met on Capitol Hill with top leaders in both parties. Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer walking side by side in solidarity with Zelenskyy. You see them there.

But where you ask is Zelenskyy walking with the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy? Well, we don't have any pictures of that, all we are have these photos. They were taken behind closed doors, because McCarthy was very careful never to appear with Zelenskyy in public. The dramatic shift in attitude among his hard-line Republican members have made the comedian turned folk hero into a toxic presence on the right.

CNN's Max Foster joins us from London to talk about all of this.

Max, you are, of course, an expert in helping us understand why optics matter so much in situations like this. And the fact that Kevin McCarthy went to these lengths to avoid this kind of an appearance really says it all.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Slight sense of panic I have to say here in Europe because the assumption was that America would continue bank rolling this war, not just for Ukraine but for all of Europe. You know, those other nations like Poland bordering with Russia are all quite concerned that, you know, if this war doesn't end, it could eventually expand again. And, you know, fighting this war is not something that Europe can pretty much afford on its own and needs America's support.

And so if there are fractions developing in the American political system and the money isn't going to keep flowing, how is Ukraine going to keep up the advances on the battlefield. There's a real sense of worry about that.

HUNT: I mean, and I think that worry is incredibly justified. I mean, as you can see, Max, I mean, the reality is the Americans can't keep their own government open, let alone at this point -- it is the same group of people that are going to shut down the government potentially who want to stop the funding for the war in Ukraine.

FOSTER: Yeah, and I think -- you know, I mean, you said it before, it is pretty dysfunctional at the point, American politics. And that is the worry, there is not a long term view strategic view, which is in Europe is protecting freedoms and democracy. You know, we've got to support Ukraine because if we allow Ukraine to lose -- I was, you know, in France yesterday, and Macron and King Charles were saying exactly this, this is a long term project, it's very expensive, we have to protect those values.

But, you know, with such short term in American politics, are they even focused on that. There is obviously sympathy with a shutdown looming but there's also concern that, you know, America isn't taking a long term view on this and it would have a huge impact on the whole of the West if Ukraine would start to falter in that war.

HUNT: Right. Well, I mean, I think the pictures coming out of Washington show all of it all, right? The president of the United States is absolutely with the Ukrainians here. But even he acknowledged that it is up to Congress and Congress is a mess on this right now.


And the other thing, Max, that, you know, kind of occurs to me as I think through this, the next Republican debate here in the United States is going to be held at the Reagan Library out in Simi Valley, California. Ronald Reagan has been a figure that Republicans have just venerated basically certainly for the entirety of the time that I've covered politics, basically until now.

And you have Mitch McConnell and that faction of the party still trying to keep that alive, right? The memory of fall of the Berlin wall and end of the USSR, and they view Russia as an adversary. There is this faction now in conservative thinking, you know, conservative circles that actually seems to have certain sympathies for Putin.

That is a remarkable shift and obviously -- you know, I'm very curious what you think because obviously the end of the Soviet Union was something that played out on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a Western project. It is really a remarkable change.

FOSTER: It is. And one thing that I can speak to tying in with what is going on with Russia and the U.S. election, I was speaking to Western officials and their view is that Russia has actually quite a long time line on this. They are basically banking -- Putin is banking on Trump winning the U.S. election. So they're going to keep the war going at a steady pace until they really know what is going to happen there.

And that's why Ukraine needs these extra, you know, equipment because it is a long time line. We need to see the result of the election. And then I don't know what that really means. Does Putin believe that Trump could potentially come in as president and resolve the whole situation?

But does America intervene in world conflicts? I mean, this is a huge debate for America, isn't it? And I think the worry here is that -- there, that some of those American politicians are against the war in Ukraine, might see as an Afghanistan type situation that you can't win and you're just going to have to pull out. But look at what's happened in Afghanistan, they're regressing rapidly.

HUNT: Yeah. No, it's a great point, and that's a fascinating way to think about it, that Vladimir Putin is going to hold out at least until we have an answer about whether or not Donald Trump will become the U.S. president again. I have a feeling you and I will be spending a lot of time talking about that in the coming week and months.

Max Foster, thanks very much for being with us this morning.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Just ahead, hundreds of troops sent to the southern U.S. border after an explosion receive migrant surge and how two presidential hopefuls are tackling the Trump factor.



HUNT: All right. Quick hits across America now.

The Biden administration sending 800 new troops to the U.S./Mexico border as migrant crossings explode, surpassing 8,600 over the last 24 hours alone. The mayor of Eagle Pass, Texas, has declared a state of emergency.

And New York state police say a front tire failure may have played a role in that horrific bus crash that killed two adults and injured dozens of high school students on Thursday. The group from Long Island was headed to band camp in Pennsylvania.

And media mogul Rupert Murdoch is going to hand the reins to his right wing empire to his eldest son Lachlan after he steps downs as chair of News Corporation and Fox later this year. The 92-year-old's seismic move comes just as the 2024 presidential race heats up.

And coastal North Carolina this morning bracing for high winds with possible 5-foot storm surges expected.

Let's go to Allison Chinchar for the latest. Our Derek -- weatherman Derek Van Dam is under the weather this morning.

But, Allison, it is wonderful to have you. What should people in the South expect this morning?


Yes, we're still continuing to take a look at this storm as it becomes better organized and it's going to continue to do so as we go through the day today. Now, it has those tropical storm force winds already at 50 miles per hour, gusting up to 65. But it doesn't really have all the other structural components to become a tropical system just yet.

When it does, the next name on the list is Ophelia and we do anticipate that this will get likely named in the next 24 hours. But the other key component is it's likely to move inland in roughly the next 24 to 36 hours.

So, you'll see here, by the time we get to Saturday afternoon, it's already spreading over portions of eastern North Carolina, then it will essentially slide up the East Coast, even pushing in to states like New Jersey and New York.

Here's a look at where you got some of those tropical storm warnings and that is established from South Carolina all the way up through portions of Maryland. One of the bigger concerns with this storm is going to be rainfall. You can see some of the outer bands really starting to spread some of the heavier rain already by say 1:00, 2:00 this afternoon for places like Wilmington, Hatteras and Virginia Beach by the time we get to tonight. Now, you're starting to see it spread more into Virginia, other areas such as Delaware and Maryland, too.

And then by tomorrow morning, then you're really starting to see a lot more of the spread into areas of the Northeast, including New York City. By the time we get to Sunday, now you are talking more interior New England, looking at some of those heavier rain bands to spread in.

Most of these areas, especially right along the coast, looking at about two, maybe as much as four inches of rain. You could have a couple isolated spots especially across the Carolinas or Virginia. They could pick up 5 or maybe even 6 inches of rain total. But even areas of Massachusetts will get at least 2 inches of rain. And also storm surge potential especially along the North Carolina coast where we could be looking at 3 to 5 feet total.


HUNT: All right. Allison Chinchar, thanks for that update. I am not looking forward to the weekend here in Washington after that. I hope you do, though, enjoy yours.

All right. Speaker McCarthy says GOP hardliners are trying to burn down the house as a government shutdown looms.

And United Auto Workers could expand their strike today. What the union president is new threatening, just ahead.


HUNT: Good morning. Thank you for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

As you wake up to start your Friday, members of the House of Representatives have already started their weekends. And no, the threat of a government shutdown has not yet been averted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 212, the nays are 216. The resolution is not adopted.


HUNT: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent the chamber home on Thursday after what you just heard there, another stinging failure on the House floor. Six hardliners tanking.