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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Kevin McCarthy Staves Off a Government Shutdown at the Very Last Minute; Trump Says He'll Appear In-Person in New York for His Civil Fraud Trial; Biden Urges Republicans to Keep Their Word on Ukraine Aid. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 05:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's coming for you, can you survive?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, I'll survive. You know, this is personal with Matt because he wants to take this motion. So be it, bring it on, let's get over with it.


KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Kevin McCarthy staving off a government shutdown at the very last minute, but could it ultimately cost him the speaker's gavel. And Donald Trump back in New York this morning where he says he's going to appear in person for his civil fraud trial that gets under way just hours from now.

Good day to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Kasie Hunt, it is Monday, October 2nd, it's 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy could make history this week, but unlikely it's the way that he wants to, because as early as today, McCarthy could become the first to have his gavel challenged in over 100 years.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I do intend to file a motion to vacate against Speaker McCarthy this week. I think we need to --


GAETZ: Rip off the band aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.


HUNT: That, of course, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, McCarthy's chief tormenter. He of course says, McCarthy made a mistake when he worked with Democrats over the weekend to pass a continuing resolution to, of course, prevent the U.S. government from shutting down with just minutes to spare. Right now, there is no consensus among house Democrats.

They would need to help McCarthy if Gaetz does force a vote on McCarthy's speakership. And some Republicans aren't really buying what Gaetz is selling either.


REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): They are the reason that we had to work together yesterday with house Democrats to pass a CR. That is not the fault of Kevin McCarthy. That's the fault of Matt Gaetz.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there's a motion to vacate, would you vote against the speaker? And do you think Democrats would help you do that?

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Frankly, I don't know right now. I've got to really think about that because there's a lot of stuff going on in that building that's behind us. What Democrats do, I can't even speak to it right now.


HUNT: All right, with us right now is CNN's Stephen Collinson, our big picture painter. Steve, it's always great to have you on the show, thank you for joining us to help us figure out. I mean, this was a massive weekend in Washington, honestly, it didn't go at all how we expected. We had so many conversations heading into this weekend about the inevitability of a government shutdown.

McCarthy clearly decided at the last minute, he was going to make a different move. But it really does put his job on the line. What was the calculus there and what happens next?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Right, so, McCarthy had a choice. Either he would pass this bill with massive spending cuts far below the ones he had agreed with President Biden which were demanded by the far right of his conference, then he would have put the government into a shutdown or he could face down those right-wingers that have been tormenting him really ever since he won the speakership over 15 rounds of voting back in January.

He chose the latter option, and that is what has put his job on the line. I think the question now is how many Republicans will rebel against him in a vote to take the speakership away from him? And how many Democrats would be needed to get him over the line and keep him speaker. And if ultimately, a speaker who is sent to Washington to counter a Republican president with conservative government could survive for very long relying on Democratic votes.

HUNT: Yes, it's a really -- honestly, I think, to keep the lens wide here for a second, this is so incredibly different from the way that Washington has operated for the past -- certainly, since I've been covering this town over the last, you know, 10, 15 years. And really, way before that as well, because just to help people understand, if Gaetz makes this motion, McCarthy could be back in that position where he was when he was getting the gavel in the first place. People remember those 15 votes over and over and over again. But at

this point, it seems like he may be in a situation where he doesn't actually have enough. He can't get over the line. And Democrats would have a decision to make. What -- can you help us kind of understand, there's a division inside the Democratic caucus, they're trying to keep their divisions very locked down and very quiet.


But I think there are progressives who have been out there already thinking about and saying out loud, hey, Matt Gaetz has approached us to try to make sure that we don't help McCarthy. And then, there are leaders who are saying, hey, let's keep our powder dry, maybe this is the best way for us to go forward, maybe we can get something out of this. Where do you think those conversations stand right now?

COLLINSON: Right, well, whatever happens, Democrats aren't going to do this for free, they're going to demand concessions from McCarthy, and it's not clear that any concessions he has the power to give them would be enough. But if you're a moderate Democrat, say in a district where you're facing a tough re-election race, you could see a rationale for voting to keep McCarthy in office.

That would give, well, those candidates some distance from the progressives in their party. It would allow them to defend themselves against Republican attacks in the general election, and it would make them look independent. And there are some Democrats who really fear the consequences of continuing months of chaos right up until the 2024 election, you know, for the health of the country.

The flip side to that is, this would be an impossible vote for many Democrats to take in the house. There's huge mistrust of Kevin McCarthy. You know, politically, it would be impossible for a Democrat who would fear, perhaps, a primary challenge from their left to vote to keep a Republican speaker in power. And after all, let's remember, this is a Republican speaker who just opened an impeachment investigation against the Democratic President Joe Biden.

So, there's no good feeling to him whatsoever, especially as many on the Democratic side of the house believe that, that investigation was what turned out to be actually a failed attempt to appease the hard right and head off this government shutdown.

So it's going to be difficult for Democrats to keep united. I think the question is, how many Republicans stand with Gaetz and want to get rid of McCarthy, not least because there's no real obvious successor or anyone who could do a better job in a fraction-splinted Republican majority of keeping the house together, that's going to be the question and how many Democrats would be needed to prop him up.

HUNT: Yes, I know, it's a very good point. And we should note, there's an option -- I mean, if enough Democrats were to say that they were simply present, they wouldn't have to vote for or against McCarthy, it might allow McCarthy to get through. But if there's a lot of people with Gaetz, that's going to be a lot tougher, and you know, Stephen, you used the word that I really think is kind of the word of the moment here in Washington.

Maybe, it always is, but trust, there is very little trust coming from any direction toward McCarthy from his office, among Democrats, and that's I think really making this situation really tough.


HUNT: Stephen Collinson, thank you very much for being here with us, I really appreciate --

COLLINSON: Thanks --

HUNT: Your time. Right, we now know California Governor Gavin Newsom's pick to fill former Senator Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat. Emily's List President Laphonza Butler. Newsom is fulfilling the promise he made to name a black woman to the seat. She'll serve until voters choose the next senator in the 2024 election. Butler is expected to be sworn in Wednesday. She'll become the third black woman to ever serve in the Senate and now, the only black female senator in Congress.

And in a political twist, house Democrats as we were just talking about suddenly holding all the cards. What are they going to do. Plus, no more aid to Ukraine for now. How Kyiv is responding. And Donald Trump in front of a tractor on an Iowa farm, I think you can guess why he was there, but we'll talk more about it.



HUNT: Welcome back. President Biden urging house Republicans to keep their promise on Ukraine aid after signing a government spending bill that doesn't have any in it. Speaking at the White House, the president says he couldn't justify hurting millions of Americans by shutting down the government. But he does want to assure Ukraine and U.S. allies that American support is unwavering.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope my friends on the other side keep their word about support for Ukraine. They said they were going to support Ukraine in a separate vote. We cannot under any circumstance allow Americans support for Ukraine to be interrupted.


HUNT: CNN's Nada Bashir is live in London with more. Nada, good morning to you. How is Ukraine responding to the fact that the spending that assists them was stripped out of this bill?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, the hope is that this will, of course, be a temporary measure. But this has certainly sparked concern on only within Ukraine, but also within the European Union. We heard this morning from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaking alongside the European Union's high representative Josep Borrell.

He spoke about this decision taken by the U.S. Congress, saying that Ukrainian officials are closely in touch with politicians on both sides of the divide from the Democrats and the Republicans, trying to ensure that a new budget will include provisions for additional funding for Ukraine. Of course, while there's concern, Kuleba was clear in reaffirming that he believes support from the U.S. government will continue to stand by Ukraine. Take a listen.


DMYTRO KULEBA, FOREIGN MINISTER, UKRAINE: We don't feel that the U.S. support has been shuttered. And we -- because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine. It's about the stability and the predictability of the world. And, therefore, I believe that we will be able to find necessary solutions.


BASHIR: Now, of course, as we know, there are billions sidelined for Ukrainian aid and funding in the U.S. budget, and the shutdown could potentially have dire consequences for Ukraine. And that is, of course, the concern around the next budget which will be in consideration over the next couple of weeks, over the last year, more than a year now, we have seen the impact of U.S. funding.


The impact of those military aid packages and the support that has been offered for Ukraine as they continue with their counteroffensive. But of course, the European Union is also now expressing concern as they begin to chair a Foreign Affairs Council in Kyiv for the first time. Josep Borrell re-affirming the European Union's support in the face of what could be wavering support on the part of the U.S. government.

HUNT: All right, Nada Bashir for us in London, thanks very much. President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy seem to be on -- really are on different pages about Ukraine aid. McCarthy's office is not saying whether or not he gave the White House any assurances on this. But the President said they made, quote, "a deal".

Although, Biden does not sound completely confident that McCarthy will follow through.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you going to be able to trust Speaker McCarthy when the next deal comes around?

BIDEN: We just made one about Ukraine. So, we'll find out.


HUNT: Very interesting. CNN's Max Foster joins me now. Max, happy Monday, wonderful to --


HUNT: See you. So, some very vague things going on here. McCarthy's office is saying -- is not saying anything about whether or not they cut a deal with the White House to get a separate vote on Ukraine funding. The president seems to be saying out loud, hey, actually, we did make a deal. All of this, of course, has Kyiv on tenterhooks. What's the latest?

FOSTER: Well, It's interesting. You heard there, Nada playing that sound-bite from the Ukrainian minister saying we're not too worried, but at the same time, the EU top diplomat, Josep Borrell is saying, he is worried. And the reality is that, at the moment, if things don't change right now, U.S. funding for the Ukraine war is drying up if there's no deal, so no formal deal reached.

Ukrainian war can't really carry on to the extent that it's currently in without U.S. money, because they're paying by far the largest amount of money into it. And the reason the European Union is worried is that this has a huge impact on allies as well. You really heard President Biden speaking to that, trying to calm tensions, saying we will reach a deal, it doesn't just matter to his relationship with Ukraine, it also matters with all the allies here in Europe because they're going to have to step in, which they can't really do with that amount of money.

And it's a European war, isn't it? So, this has huge repercussions. The reality of what we're facing here is really worrying. And those diplomats meeting in Kyiv today have got a huge amount to get through and to try to, you know, stop the panic in a way, as well as resolving some sort of deal with the U.S.

HUNT: Yes, no it's a -- it's a really great point. And you know, the other reality here that all those folks you're talking about are facing is that, the House of Representatives is still a mess, even if McCarthy wants to bring Ukraine aid to the floor. It sounds like Matt Gaetz is going to jump in and try to, you know, kick him out of a job. The rules are such, that takes at least two days.

I mean, we're a little ways off from this. The other piece of this, Max, and I saw you all reporting on this in the last hour, and we talked about this last week, the elections in Slovakia actually have pretty significant ramifications for Kyiv, and they really play into this idea that there are these new challenges and cracks in some of the western support in the context of that war. I mean, what happened here and what does it mean?

FOSTER: Well, I think, you know, this sort of fits into this idea that Ukraine is becoming a party political issue in many countries. And particularly, on the right and the far right, politicians are saying we've got to stop funding, stop supporting this war in Ukraine. And that's exactly what's happened in Slovakia. So, the Robert Fico who got the most amount of votes in the Slovakian election wants to stop funding Ukraine and was a very close ally, wants to stop supporting it in any way militarily only in terms of humanitarian efforts.

So that was a big moment, but it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to become prime minister. He has to find a coalition partner, the key one was his far-right party, but they didn't get enough votes to get into parliament, so they're going to have to tie up with someone else. They need a bit of hope for people that are worried about this right now, is that they're going to have to tie with someone more moderate than him. So maybe, we'll get a more moderate version of this Ukrainian policy.

HUNT: All right, very interesting. Max Foster, thank you very much my friend, I really appreciate you being here. See you tomorrow.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, just ahead, where Senator Dianne Feinstein will lie in state ahead of her funeral next week. And what happened to a little girl missing in Upstate New York?



HUNT: Welcome back. Quick hits across America now. The search intensifies for 9-year-old Charlotte Sena who disappeared when she went on a bike ride while she was on a family camping trip in Upstate, New York on Saturday. A statewide amber alert remains in effect.

And California Senator Dianne Feinstein will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall ahead of her funeral on Thursday. The 90-year-old died in Washington D.C. after months of declining health. Her body was accompanied home by friend and colleague Nancy Pelosi on a presidential military plane over the weekend.

And still no contract deal for 75,000 Kaiser Permanente Health Care workers as they brace for a three-day walkout set to begin on Wednesday. It would be the industry's largest strike in U.S. history. All right, now to weather, that record-breaking heat over the Midwest moves into the northeast this week. Let's go to our weather man Derek Van Dam.


Derek, happy Monday, wonderful to see you. I perhaps, overly optimistically put my favorite flannel shirt back on my -- in my closet from the Arctic, hoping that it was going to be Fall here on the east coast, and it seems like that was too soon.

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: No, you'll get a chance, you'll get a chance this week as well. That's the best part about this. Well, that's --


VAN DAM: Why we love the weather so much, because it changes every day, right? (LAUGHTER)

At least, that's why I like it so much --

HUNT: Fine.

VAN DAM: So --

HUNT: What have you got?

VAN DAM: Flannel shirt, end of the week, but if you're in Minneapolis, not the case. Check this out, they had their warmest day ever on yesterday, so, 92 degrees. That is incredible. It has just never been that warm in the month of October in Minneapolis. There are other cities that broke record high temperatures, you know, shattering some locations, Fargo, North Dakota, 6 degrees above their previous record.

And going forward this week, we'll see the heat shift eastward, and that's going to allow for the potential -- at least, for potential 40 record-high temperatures over the eastern half of the U.S. It's all thanks to the surging warmth from the south, and you can just see those oranges and reds shifting towards New England, and we'll see those above average temperatures move from places like Sioux Falls, Minneapolis and Chicago, all the way to New York City, Boston and the nation's capital as well.

But I do believe the extended forecast calls for a big cool-down right around the weekend coming up. But of course, with the heat comes the wildfire smoke, once again, just incredible, we have unhealthy air for some locations in and around Boston, Cape Cod stretching into Providence. And this is going to continue, especially just Upstate, New York, that's where we anticipate the worst impact of this wildfire smoke, which originates into Canada.

We're familiar with it. We've seen it this Summer, and it looks like it's going to make its return once again. There's a cooler weather, I promise, Kasie, check this out, below average temperatures just in time for my birthday.

HUNT: Oh, happy birthday, Derek, and also --

VAN DAM: Thank you --

HUNT: This weekend, I'm supposed to go to the first game of the ALDS, my Os are playing in Camden Yards, so cross your fingers if you've got rain in the forecast by Friday, you and I are not going to --

VAN DAM: No --

HUNT: Not going to be friends, all right --

VAN DAM: But you can --

HUNT: Great --

VAN DAM: Wear the flannel --


HUNT: All right, Derek, thank you very much, I'll see you tomorrow --

VAN DAM: Right --

HUNT: My friend.


HUNT: And congressional Democrats weighing McCarthy's fate as Republican hardliners revolt against him. Plus, Donald Trump says he'll be there in person as his New York civil fraud trial begins.