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Gop Gov. Baker: Midterms Showed Voters "Don't Want Extremes"; Pelosi: Any Decision To Run Again Is About Family, Colleagues; Report: Foreign Delegations Stayed At Trump Hotel While He Was In WH. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 14, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Without a question. And instead a very buttoned up announcement. I mean, says Jason Miller now who knows what the announcement is going to look like? But look, the reality is the timing on this, I get why the former president wants to do it to sort of fill the vacuum. But boy, it's hard to know, of course now, how this will end up but it certainly feels like an all our time covered Donald Trump that this is the absolute, A, worst timing. But B, just so many Republicans are piling on. Yes, we've seen many moments like this before, when people counted him out in the summer of 2015. But this is different. It feels different. It's a different moment and virtually no Republican that I've talked to, really no Republican that I've talked to and wants Trump to do this tomorrow, even some supporters and advocates of Trump, the timing is just terrible. He's doing it for his purposes. Not the party's purposes.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And they're telling him that. They're telling him that in private, they're going public with it. They're trying every which way even going and playing golf with him, trying to convince him on the golf course his happy place. It didn't work, apparently, I mean, you know, we're not at tomorrow night. He could suddenly have a change of heart. But it looks like all systems are go, despite the fact that it's not just because they don't want him to do it, they want to have time for 2024. A lot of Republicans are worried about it having a negative impact on the runoff in Georgia.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And runoff in Georgia. But one Republican who cannot stand up and say don't do this Donald is Kevin McCarthy, because Kevin McCarthy now is going to most likely we're not done yet but most likely a very tiny majority where if he wants to be speaker, he needs Marjorie Taylor Greene. He needs Paul Gosar. He needs Jim Jordan. So he's not going to stand up to Donald Trump, he was probably wasn't going to do it anyway. But he's especially not going to do it now.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Exactly. And he also now because it's such a narrow margin, we'll also need moderates like Brian Fitzpatrick and others, it's a smaller coalition. They're definitely not as loud as some of the more MAGA acolytes like to be on Capitol Hill. But this is going to be very difficult for him. Of course, the leadership election still is going to happen this week. Tomorrow is the big day for McCarthy as well under that Trump looming in his decision, but that is only a plurality vote.

So the real date for McCarthy is still January 3rd, someone could still try and, you know, mount a campaign against him steal away those votes. And that could be a very long day, if he can't get the 218 votes on the floor, January 3rd, we could be there for a while as he still tries to make concessions. But it seems like even some of these Republicans don't even want to give him that.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: And with this narrow, potentially narrow majority, his job just got so much harder. And there are some very real questions now for whether or not Kevin McCarthy can win a leadership election, the right flank in the House Republican Conference is certainly demanding concessions from him in return for their support, which include elevating members of the Freedom Caucus, should they win the majority to influential committees, trying to bring back to be potential for members to be able to depose of this speaker and wanting commitment from him to support articles of impeachment against President Biden and his administration officials, which is not somewhere Republicans want to go, certainly not after this election, where they've been given anything but a mandate, not to mention just trying to govern with a very narrow majority, where he's going to need support from Democrats for, you know, government funding to raise the debt ceiling. So I think, you know, very complicated road ahead for Kevin McCarthy or whoever it is who's ultimately at the helm of House Republican.

KING: And the question, one of the one of the many questions is can Trump keep using the tactics he is using the past in the sense that he makes a mess over here. So he starts a fire over here to try to distract your attention, including this on Truth Social, it's Mitch McConnell's fault. That's what Donald Trump says, it's all Mitch McConnell's fault, and he wants Republicans to replace them.

At the end of that, if you care to read it is yet another racist smear of Mitch McConnell's wife. So Donald Trump says, hey, I'm a racist. I should be your nominee for Republicans again in 2024. So two questions number one, is this. Mitch McConnell actually facing the trouble in the Senate leadership elections, a number of his members have said let's slow down a little bit until we understand this better.

Or number two, you had Larry Hogan yesterday. Jake Tapper today has a fascinating conversation with the Massachusetts governor, much like Larry Hogan, the outgoing Charlie Baker, he's not running. And he says Republicans wake up, you want to win, get rid of the extreme.


GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MA): I think the biggest issue that played out in the midterms is something that I've talked about a lot over the course of the past eight years, which is voters, generally speaking, especially in battleground states aren't interested in extremism. They just aren't. They want people who they believe are going to be reasonable who are going to be collaborative, and who represent sort of the fundamental tenet of democracy that it's supposed to be a distributed decision making model and you're supposed to be OK with that. And I think in the midterms, one of the big lessons that the Republican Party nationally needs to take away from it is voters want collaborative elected officials. They don't want extremes.


KING: Mitch McConnell used to be a collaborative elected official. He's had to navigate the Trump politics themselves and a more conservative Republican Party at some ways. Will that message be received here?


BASH: He agrees with that. Mitch McConnell doesn't disagree with that. And we should say that Charlie Baker, the outgoing Republican governor of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan, the outgoing Republican governor of Maryland, are turning the keys over to Democrats, in large part because of the perception and certainly in Maryland very real, the reality that the Republican running was too extreme. He was not --

So they know what they're talking about. Mitch McConnell, when he was talking in the summer about candidate quality, that was code for people who are too extreme for these wider purple or states or not, maybe even not purple states.

ZELENY: And he didn't want Herschel Walker. And, you know, on and on and on, you can play Mitch McConnell for some things, not this midterm elections at all. But you asked if he faces a challenge. I think Tom Cotton said it best yesterday to beat the man you have to have a man or whatever he said, I think a main with this. But the point is, Mitch McConnell never has had no one's going to sit up and rise against him, close any shot, Rick Scott has no shot about it.

KING: And again, back to Trump attacking Mitch McConnell right now. I assume helps Mitch McConnell looking at the --

ZELENY: Internally.

KING: Looking at the elections, yes, the elections just played out again. You can see more of that interview with Governor Baker later today on The Lead with Jake Tapper.

Up next, Democrats also face post-election changes and Nancy Pelosi's future is the biggest question.



KING: House Democrats are scheduled to hold their leadership elections in two weeks, and by then we should know which party will control the House come January. As of today, the safest bet is a very small Republican majority. But that is not a done deal. Still counting votes, which is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not ready to answer the, what's next for you question.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Any decision to run is about family and also my colleagues. And what we want to do is go forward in a very unified way as we go forward to prepare for the Congress at hand. Nonetheless, a great deal is at stake because we'll be in a presidential election. So my decision will then be rooted in what the wishes of my family and the wishes of my caucus.


KING: Our reporters are still with us. That was a conversation with you yesterday. Let me translate. Nice try, circle back in a couple of weeks.

BASH: Yes. True. That is definitely true. But she also said at later in the conversation that she was getting some calls from some of her colleagues asking her not to go, which was interesting and noteworthy. It doesn't mean that she's not leaving. I mean, certainly, I would say my overall takeaway, and I could have egg on my face after this. But the vibe I got was that she's more ready to leave now than she has ever been.

And, you know, you could make an argument that, even though if they do lose the majority, it would not be a total victory. But given historical reality, it would certainly be a victory, given the fact that they didn't have a total wipeout, we can say that from today on.

KING: Right. So either way, either she decides I need to stay for this moment, or the more likely scenario you pane out, she wants to keep her leverage so she can have influence on who replaces her on the next generation of leadership, take the whatever votes she has, and say you want to, you know, you need me, you need me to help here, which makes this interesting. The Progressive Caucus for some time has said they love Speaker Pelosi, but it's time for some generational change in the House, listen to the chairwoman saying we're thinking about it.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA), CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: We always consider all the people who are running very carefully. And we usually have a set of things that we ask for as the Progressive Caucus as part of those negotiations. So we're looking forward to seeing what that looks like.


KING: No names, no names. Again, this is the uncertain world we live in right now. Everyone's trying to count votes and figure things out, so it's like, we know kind of what we believe, but we'll figure it out when we get there.

SOTOMAYOR: Oh, yes, everyone's just waiting for Pelosi to say what she decides. And nothing's really going to move forward until then. We've seen some people announce for lower ranking leadership spots, you know, the DCCC who's going to chair that. But a lot of people keeping their powder dry, but that doesn't mean that they're working the phones aggressively behind the scenes and making sure hey, I know you told me a couple months ago, early last year, that you are with me, are you still with me? I am hearing, you know, someone may emerge.

And those people in particular, of course, Hakeem Jeffries, Congressman from New York, he -- a lot of people are behind him to replace her and there is an argument --

BASH: And he making calls.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes, he is.

BASH: Quietly.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes, there is the argument that if, you know, they're in the minority, then a lot of the doubts that people had about him, you know, is he strong enough to fully be willing and able to, you know, put people in place like Pelosi has. He can, you know, kind of roughing up those wheels, make sure the grease is there for majority eventually.

KING: And beneath her, you have Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, the whip Jim Clyburn, the three of them have been together there for 10, 15 years has been talked, we're going to have this big generational change. Does it all happen at once? Or do they negotiate away, you maybe, you get to be the number one, but I want to stay is two and three and I've got the votes.

ZELENY: Which makes it so complicated, I mean, Steny Hoyer and Mr. Clyburn also don't want to leave. But the reality here is I would be surprised I may have egg on my face too. But I would be surprised if next year come January, that those three leaders are still in position. You just get the sense that it's that she's in a different place. And you heard the Speaker mentioning in the end, family, family, family. Look what happened to Paul Pelosi, her husband.


So look, the Democrats still control the White House there's still some ambassadorships, other things out there, she could do something else. But it's a complicated three way sort of thing between the three of them. So we'll see what happens. But I think one thing that's been unusual, there's been a lot of Democratic unity in this midterm election year that's about to probably shatter with the progressives and others come time for leadership --

KING: And the Republican fights may overshadow it, but it's happening underneath which is the flip side. Normally, the Democratic fights publicly and the Republicans get away with it in private, the Senate will stay in Democratic hands, Chuck Schumer will remain the majority leader, which he says is giant because number one, we're in charge. Number two, we get to do judges, cabinet officials, more.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: In this Senate, is we passed a record amount of judges at the district court --


SCHUMER: -- judge was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There has been a lot of movement. And that's why --

SCHUMER: Let me, and the court of appeals to counterbalance these MAGA judges, which the public doesn't like. And now that we have the majority we'll be able to keep doing it.


KING: And he also to the point we were making earlier, he also thinks that he'll be able to get more done with Republicans, at least most of the Senate Republicans because they will take a message from this election.

SIDDIQUI: Well, it depends how that message is received among House Republicans if they do win the majority. And I think that there is certainly expectation within the White House that a lot of President Biden's policy priorities would still be dead on arrival with House Republicans, if that's the dynamic that we're looking at, but it's hard to overstate the significance of Democrats holding on to the Senate. I mean, as we've talked about the potential for President Biden to continue to fill out the federal judiciary, if there's another Supreme Court vacancy under his watch, that's something a lot of Democrats have talked about, the Republicans wouldn't be able to block that vacancy until the next presidential election.

Now, they are concerned, though, that turnout might be down in Georgia with the Senate no longer up for grabs. And so there's really an effort to try and keep this momentum going because President Biden has certainly talked about the importance of having that extra seat for the balance on committees. So it's no longer an even split. And I think that's certainly a question for Democrats moving forward is what is the impact on the Georgia runoff election, which still is very important to them and their Senate majority.

KING: Yes. I was struck in the conversation on CNN this morning with Leader Schumer, he specifically mentioned marriage equality, which passed the House, it's already passed the House. You make it. The House dynamics are going to get it really interesting now, but it's already passed in this session. So the question is, can you get 10 Republicans after the election, and his lead, Senator Baldwin, Senator Sinema, his leads on that said, please wait until after the election, we think we can get 10 be fascinated to see if they can.

BASH: And remember the lead Republican on this one of them, Rob Portman, he's -- this would be his swan song, because he's retiring. He's out of here at the end of the year. And so he has been working his fellow Republicans. So the combination of the work that he did before the election, and perhaps the results in the message from the election that Republicans could take may mean that it actually could pass they couldn't get the 60 votes, which would mean 10 Republicans. ZELENY: Supporters of that believed that it definitely will happen or likely will happen. We'll see how that plays out. But you'd be hard pressed to not see a few electoral Republicans. But like Ron Johnson, for example, who said he would vote for it. He was just reelected. We'll see about that. But I think there are the votes there, or at least supporters of this believe there are the votes there.

KING: Yes, if he looks around to other states, you would think Ron Johnson would want to stay in that position. But I think the lame duck session, that session, that's what we call it in Washington after the election, before the new powers come in. It's going to be interesting to say the least especially with the pressures on the House side, we will see.


Up next for us, a new detailed report shows foreign delegation stayed at the Trump Hotel while he was in office spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.


KING: This just into CNN. Newly released accounting documents show six foreign governments including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, spent thousands of dollars at then President Donald Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel. CNN's Kara Scannell is here with this new reporting. Kara, tell us more.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pain from the Democratic led House Oversight Committee, they got these records from Trump organizations long time now former accountants. And what we learned from these records that during the first two years of the Trump presidency, six countries spent more than $700,000 at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. that included money that was spent on meals, hotel rooms, including several nights at the $10,000 per night presidential suite.

Now we have known for a long time that foreign governments were staying at the Trump hotel and spending money there. But these records give us the first concrete indication of how much money was spent there. This was of course in an unusual situation where a sitting president also owns and has a financial stake in an operating business. So the House Democrats are saying that they want to look into whether any of Trump's foreign policy decisions were influenced by his financial interest in this hotel.

We have seen the money here that was spent ranging from $280,000 by Qatar, $250,000 by Malaysia. Now, there's no evidence in this release that these, the spending did influence foreign policy. But some of these spending did come at times of significant foreign policy decisions including the blockade of Qatar. That is when we saw the governments of Saudi Arabia, the Qataris, and the Emiratis all in Washington all spending money at the former president's hotel.


So the House Oversight Committee is asking the National Archives to send them documents to help them understand if any foreign policy decisions were affected by the spending. We've reached out to the embassies. We have not heard back from them. Eric Trump provided us a statement he said that they are -- they went to tremendous lengths to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, and that they voluntarily donated profits that they had made from that hotel. And of course, the Trump organization did sell that hotel earlier this year, John.

KING: Sold that hotel, yes, they did. Kara Scannell, appreciate that important to reporting.

And thank you for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. It's a busy week as we sort the midterms. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break. Have a good day.