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Kevin McCarthy Out As House Speaker in Historic Vote; Outraged Dems Refuse to Save McCarthy's Speakership. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 04, 2023 - 05:00   ET




REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I will not run for speaker again. I'll have the conference pick somebody else.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: America wakes up without a speaker of the House, and plenty of questions about who could ultimately replace him.


HUNT: Good day to our viewers in the United States, and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It is Wednesday, October 4th, a historic day.

Five a.m. here in Washington, with Congress in utter chaos this morning after the dramatic removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House. Right now, there is no clear replacement. No House business is scheduled until at least Tuesday.

It is the first time in history that a speaker has been ousted in the middle of a congressional term. An overwhelming majority of Republicans did actually vote to keep McCarthy in power, but it was still not enough to block the efforts of the Republican hard-liners, who wanted McCarthy gone.


REP. STEVE WOMACK (R-AR): On this vote, the yeas are 216, the nays are 210. The resolution is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. The Office of Speaker of the House of the United States of House of Representatives, is hereby declared vacant.


HUNT: Wow.

Hereby declared vacant.

Because of the Republicans' razor-thin majority, McCarthy needed almost all his party support to keep the gavel, he could only lose a handful of votes, and it was too many. That's the number of Republicans who joined with Democrats, to remove him.


MCCARTHY: My fear is that an institution fell today because, you can't do the job, if eight people, you have 94 percent of or 96 percent of your 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.


HUNT: So, Florida's Matt Gaetz who brought the vote to oust McCarthy, blew up his party's speakership. Perhaps you might think he is a replacement plan.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who are you going to get behind as a candidate?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I don't know who the candidates are.


HUNT: So no plan that's where we are.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise appears to be emerging as the early frontrunner to replace McCarthy. This makes sense. We don't know yet if he has enough support to succeed.

All right. Let's bring in our panel this morning, many of these folks have been up through the evening. Former GOP congressional aide and principal and founder of Rilax Strategies; Maria Cardona, a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, and, of course, the co-host of the podcast "Hot Mics from Left to Right", Matt Mowers, president of Valcour, a global strategy, former State Department senior White House advisor and GOP congressional nominee; and Eva McKend, who is CNN's national politics correspondent.

Thank you all for being with us here at this morning.

Eva, you're a politics reporter but having you here outside of the capital with us this morning, we can see the dome in the shot, that is where we are, just for everyone who's watching, makes perfect sense because, this story is all the same story -- the story of Donald Trump, the story of these, you know, hard line rouge congressional candidates who come here, create chaos. In many ways, this House was the leading indicator of how all of this folded and went down.

We did hear from Speaker McCarthy last night in what honestly felt to me kind of like a swan song. He was standing up there sort of like, hey, this is the last chance I got, with all these cameras pointed me, to say what I want to say. It went on for longer than expected. What stood out to you? EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kasie, most

consequentially, he said he would not run again. This is a man that has wanted the speakership, it seems like, his whole political career. And he said, he is done.

He also took aim at his enemies, and surprisingly, Democrats as well. That was sort of a bit of a confusing moment because it's not as if he asked Democrats to bail him out, but he suggested in his comments, that he was expecting, as much.

He also said that he was grateful for the job, a very short speakership, 269 days but, called it a great honor, the honor of his lifetime.


And he argued that he had no regrets. Let's listen.


MCCARTHY: 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 the vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber, I feel fortunate to have served the American people.


MCKEND: You know, the big question now, Kasie, who's -- who is going to replace Speaker McCarthy. Congressman Scalise seems to have the confidence of some of the right flank, but this could be a very painful process, we saw how painful it was to elect the speaker in the first place.

We also see Congressman Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. He has been able to straddle good relationship with leadership as well as the MAGA movement in the party. If not him, presumably, Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

He led the army of the party responsible for electing House Republicans. So, one could guess he has relationships with Republicans, across the specter across the country. So now, we'll see who is going to take up the mantle.

HUNT: Although, I should point out, Emmer did nod to Steve Scalise. I think I made myself pretty clear.


HUNT: Matt Mowers, you are someone who -- you know, Kevin McCarthy well.

MATT MOWERS, FORMER GOP CONGRESSIONAL NOMINEE: Uh-huh. HUNT: He helped support you in your bid for Congress, which, of course, you actually lost in the Republican primary due in no small part to some of the factors that we are seeing playing out here. And part of why Kevin McCarthy wanted to hear, he wants people as he said, who can govern.

And there were eight members -- eight of his conference, who basically said, no, we do not want to do that. And here we are, I mean, I just -- I'm still struck by the moment. I never imagined in covering this place, and I have for, you know, over a decade now, that we would make up one morning without a speaker of the House because the people of that speakers party through about, and had no plan to replace them.

Talk a little bit about, what Kevin McCarthy is like, what he was dealing with here. And what your takeaways are for what comes next.

MOWERS: Sure. Well, you know, the first thing is that, this was all laid in motion November of last year, right, when election night happened, it wasn't a big red wave. It was only 222 Republican majority, that's when this became a difficult job.

Look, it was no small part because the types of candidate you had emerged in the number in these primaries. I mean, Kevin McCarthy wanted a majority of least ten seats more, 12 seems more than he got. You have a lot of folks who didn't succeed because, you know, whether it was Roe v. Wade decision, whether it was, you know, Donald Trump announcing his presidential campaign essentially before the general election last year.

HUNT: Right.

MOWERS: So, you actually had a number of Republicans in swing seats lose. You had lousy candidates. You have J.R. Majewski running against Marcy Kaptur in Ohio, who had no business being the nominee, and was unable to succeed that way.

HUNT: But you kind of shorthand him as a MAGA candidates, really.

MOWERS: You probably could, not exclusively, but you could. You have Joe Kent who beat Jamie Herrera Beutler out of Washington state. Had the incumbent member of Congress who was a pragmatic conservative Republican won that primary, she being Congress today. She would've been a nay vote on a motion to vacate. So, that all got played out on November last year.

HUNT: I mean, it is pretty remarkable, Rina -- I mean, I remember talking to people on election night, in the last round of midterm elections, counting what the speaker's majority smith are going to be, and having conversations with people about the possibility of something like this happening. Those conversations happened again when it took 15 votes to get him, the speaker's gavel in the first place.

You've worked inside this building. You understand what it is like, to be someone who is dealing with these kinds of things. The other speakers that came before, other Republicans that came before Kevin McCarthy, they honestly got tired of it, and basically up and quit, because they couldn't handle this faction, McCarthy actually was willing to stick it out. But at the end of the day, couldn't overcome again. It came to a head here.

What did you see unfold last night, what do you think happens next?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there are a great many of us who are still reeling from shock to the system this morning because this -- what happened last night, which we never thought was possible. But we chase the line back to a decade and a half ago, when I was sitting back here and seeing these populist forces that pushed out Congressman Eric Cantor in Virginia, that sent Paul Ryan into early retirement, these are the same forces that were at play to push out Kevin McCarthy.

Now, people are drawing a stark contrast between Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy, but I submit to you, it is not that great. Kevin McCarthy's ambition has always been quite naked. And I just think --

HUNT: That is a really interesting way to talk about it.

SHAH: I have seen it. I watch him come up, and I've seen him want this job, and he was going to stick to it because he does believe in good government.


And he does want people that come here and know how to pull the levers, and have that desire. You can call these eight people who ousted him, people who don't want him there because he's an establishment type. I think it's bigger than that.

I think if we zoom out, and I think I speak for the vast majority of Americans in the Republican Party that are frustrated by the members we send here with our taxpayer dollars who have an indict to spend and spend wisely.

They come here and they have this budget. We bring in a certain amount, but we overspend. So what's happening here?

I think we are in a moment where we are seeing the system burned down, all the way to the ashes. I'm actually not crying over it.

HUNT: So, Maria, you are a Democrat here, but there was a lot of conversation yesterday morning about what Democrats were going to do. And CNN reported there is these last-minute entreaties from people who are close to McCarthy saying, hey come on, please save us. I think the argument was, a version of well, better the devil you know. You're not going to get anyone better.

Democrats ultimately decided, they open their caucus meeting, playing a clip of McCarthy basically excruciating Democrats on "Face the Nation", and they said no, we can't do this.


HUNT: Do you think -- can you help us understand a little bit more about the decision. Is there any word in which the Democrats come to regret it?

CARDONA: Well, first of all, let's -- let's look at why the decision was the way it was. And you're right, a lot of it was, Kevin McCarthy excruciating Democrats, not just over the weekend, even in the speech last night, right? It was jaw-dropping that he ends up blaming Democrats.

HUNT: That's an institutional argument, kind of the middle, when he was trying to get him to save them. It was up and down.

CARDONA: Exactly. When, in fact, it was Democrats who came to save him, frankly, and the country in terms of keeping the government open, right? That was why we were able to keep the government open, because Democrats were the adults in the room, working then with McCarthy --

HUNT: I will give credit to McCarthy for being an adult in the room on that.

CARDONA: Well, ultimately, yes.

HUNT: You're right, he needed the Democrats.

CARDONA: Exactly, he realized the whole party was going to sink if he didn't keep the government open. So, yes, I give him credit to for finally realizing, that he had to do what a real leader does, right? What he needed Democrats to do it, because he wasn't able to do it early on. And so --

HUNT: But the person they get next can be worse for Democrats.

CARDONA: Well, we'll see. I mean, is it going to be worse for Democrats or worse for the country?

What Democrats looked at last night, in terms of the decision that was before them is they saw a speaker of the house that, first of all, had no conversations with him about what he wanted to do in terms of trying to help him get to where he needed to be, to say is speaker. They couldn't trust him was the bottom line, Kasie, right?

Back in May, as you know, he came to agreement with Democrats and with Joe Biden, to raise the debt ceiling, and to keep the levels of government spending where they are, in order to avoid exactly what we have just gone through for the past several weeks.

HUNT: Right.

CARDONA: He could not be trusted. He went back on that. Because of the MAGA members bars of his caucus that he could not control.

HUNT: Who, of course, didn't trust him either.

CARDONA: Exactly. Additionally, he went to the house floor and started an impeachment inquiry, with absolutely zero evidence. He also after --

HUNT: Maybe a move he regrets this morning. CARDONA: Absolutely. After the election, after January 6th, he

excoriated Donald Trump and we were like, maybe this is a guy who understands and is reasonable that Democrats can work with. What does he do shortly after that? He goes down to Mar-a-Lago and kisses the ring.

We know from there that this guy was two-faced, that he was going to be someone who put his finger up to the political winds, and he was not a leader that can be trusted. You have to have some kind of trust in order to govern.

HUNT: I will say. You know, I was here on these grounds on January 6th, and I spoke to Kevin McCarthy, in the aftermath of what he had to say on the floor. And he said those same things, and private and public conversations with other reporters, and then he did, in fact, change his tune pretty swiftly.

Here we are today.

All right. Eva McKend, thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here to help us get started.

We're going to have much more from the rest of our panel ahead.

Coming up next, McCarthy's own words taking any hope congressional Democrats would save him, as we are just discussing.

Plus, the House's number two Republican, and who else might be a candidate for speaker.




REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We are not voting in any way that will help save Speaker McCarthy. We are following our leader and, we are not saving Kevin McCarthy.


HUNT: Kevin McCarthy needed Democrats to keep this gavel, they said no chance.

Welcome back to EARLY START. We are live on Capitol Hill, this morning.

The Democratic Caucus met Tuesday morning to try to get on the same page, ahead of all the drama that played out yesterday. This is what they played at the top of the meeting, to set the tone in terms of deciding what they were going to do about Kevin McCarthy.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: I wasn't sure it was going to pass, you want to know why? Because the Democrats tried to do everything they can not to let it pass. They did dilatory --

HOST: Democrats were the one who voted for this --

MCCARTHY: Did you -- did you -- did you watch?

HOST: -- in a large number than Republicans to keep the continuing resolution alive.

MCCARTHY: Did you watch the floor yesterday?

HOST: Oh, yes.

MCCARTHY: OK, then --

HOST: Ninety Republicans voted against it.


MCCARTHY: So, let's walk through what actually happened. First of all, the Democrats show up and did dilatory actions and asked to adjourn. So, was that supporting to adjourn? Then they use the magic minute, they went as far as pulling the fire alarm, not to try to get the bill to come up.


HUNT: That interview conducted on Sunday, let's bring in Michigan Democratic congressman, Debbie Dingell.

Congresswoman, good morning. Thank you so much for being here with us.

Take us inside the meeting yesterday, what it was like when that clip was played, and what the Congress fate station was like about Democrats about what to do about McCarthy.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, good morning, Kasie. And it's good to be with you.

I just want to say one thing that -- before we begin this conversation. I don't think that there is joy anyplace, what happened yesterday was sad and historical, and has consequences for our democracy in our country. So, let's start there.

But back to Saturday and yesterday where, we had a participation in our caucus, the decisions were thoughtful and reflective, and real. With Kevin McCarthy refers to Saturday, let's put it in perspective. We got a bill that would be given -- 71-page bill that we are given 15 minutes to write, we asked for 90 minutes. And when they wouldn't give it to us, we try to get enough time to get people to read the bill, and make sure there was nothing in it that was buried that would do undue harm. And I tell you something, our caucus on Saturday was thoughtful. I think there's some members that didn't love this rewritten bill, but members of our caucus got up and said, our job is to keep this government running. It's got 99 percent of what we want, our caucus knew Friday and Saturday and said, we are going to keep the government running, over any of these because that is the fundamental part of our job. We came together and except for one person, we voted for that bill.

Yesterday, it was -- it was a reflected day. People were really talking about how they feel, what have been said. What about said about January 6th, which is still in the hearts of many of the people that were on the floor in the gallery. And that's how we got to where we were.

It was not an easy decision. I want people to understand that it was tough, and real reflective.

HUNT: Can you -- can you take us behind into some of those conversations, about January 6 in particular because, you know, this is a moment -- I know for those of us who are here and experienced what happened that day. What happened was Kevin McCarthy the 180 that occurred between when he went down on the floor on that day and said what everybody fully expected him to say at that time, to say that -- to suggest that Donald Trump was responsible for this -- and then to go on go to Mar-a-Lago and take that photo, what role did that play in the Democrats' decision?

DINGELL: For a lot of members, that was the deciding rule. You need to remember that people came to Capitol Hill on January 6 to kill people, and it is those very people that were voting yesterday. There were some that were trapped in the gallery that are still suffering from PTSD. They were scared. And they know. They're fighting for our democracy, they love our democracy.

And they feel McCarthy is giving into President Trump, that even if he says the right thing, it won't be good. It was a combination. I am reflecting what was reflecting in the caucus, we went through a lot of things, we went through the debt ceiling, we were supposed to hold to the debt ceiling, but then again we were back in drama.

And, you know, there were others that were like, are there things that we can do? Could we postpone this vote, do rule changes? They force the vote yesterday, too. So, even thoughtful or potential things couldn't have been discussed by some that really wanted to.

HUNT: Yeah.

DINGELL: So, by the time the decision-making came, we were where we were yesterday.

HUNT: Congresswoman, what do you think you're ultimately going to end up with here? Is it going to be better for the country and for Democrats to have a Steve Scalise as speaker? I mean, it is as you noted a somber, historic day here that we have the House of Representatives with no speaker of the House and it does seem like the Republicans are making the argument at the very last minute behind the scene saying, like, hey, that's really bad for the country.

How can you argue and what we might be better about the future here in the wake of this decision?

DINGELL: First of all, Kasie, is not our caucus that pulled this. We didn't agree to this rule.

HUNT: Sure.

DINGELL: It was Kevin McCarthy that agreed to this rule, one vote could call --

HUNT: Perhaps his first mistake.

DINGELL: Yeah, it was his first mistake. Let me be really clear on that.

And the Republican Caucus brought them on themselves. They've got a very small group of dissidents that have caused this chaos and the Republican caucus needs to fix its own politics. I -- you know, we're hearing a number of names, the Republicans have a way of eating their own, there have been some good men that have been speakers, that haven't survived.


Paul Ryan, John Boehner, they were both very close friends.

I don't know who's going to come out of this. I think (ph) I wouldn't dare to name a name to say I think and respect them because that could be a kiss of death for them.

But I've worked with a lot of the Republicans on the other side. I respect those relationships. They're important to me. I can talk to them we can exchange ideas. My word is good, their word is good.

Let's see what happens when it's released. But this is the Republican caucus's problem to fix. They need to look at the seriousness of what they put -- where they put Speaker McCarthy, who are they going to choose next, and how they're gong to treat him, and understand their leader needs to be able to be a leader for this country, and to protect our democracy.

HUNT: Yeah. Power, of course, is irresistible in this town. But it is hard to believe that somebody wants a job as tough as the one that Kevin McCarthy until very recently was shouldering.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you as always for joining me. I really appreciate it.

DINGELL: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Kevin McCarthy is out. So, who's in and what is next as the House searches for a new speaker? We'll be back live from Capitol Hill in just a moment.



SEN. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): The chair declares the House in recess, subject to the call of the chair.


HUNT: You can see the anger there. Speaker pro tem Patrick McCarthy, fiercely gaveling out after his friend, Kevin McCarthy was toppled a speaker.

Check out "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board this morning. Republicans cut off their own heads -- says it all.

Good morning. Thank you for being here.