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McCarthy To DHS Secy. Mayorkas: Resign Or Risk Impeachment; Gov. Kemp Starring In New McConnell PAC-Backed Ad For Walker. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 23, 2022 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: A new ultimatum from the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to the Biden Cabinet Secretary responsible for immigration and border issues.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.


KING: That what you just heard there a big shift in tone from McCarthy, who finds himself short the votes to be Speaker just 41 days now from when the new Congress convenes. The Department of Homeland Security brushing aside that threat saying Secretary Mayorkas has no plans to resign and saying, quote, members of Congress should come to the table and work on solutions.

Here in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Maeve Reston, Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post, and Heather Caygle of Punchbowl News. Heather, you heard Kevin McCarthy there, he wants to be speaker, he needs votes. It's quite a different tone than what he told you just about a month ago.

And when he said this, I think the country wants to heal. If you spent all that time arguing against using impeachment for political purposes, you got to be able to sustain exactly what you said. His point was the Republicans criticized the Democrats for impeaching Trump. They weren't going to do that. I think the country wants to heal, what happened?

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Well, you know, I think he realized you didn't have the votes to be speaker. He's got a math problem, right? Republicans are going to be going into this majority with four vote majority. That means he can only lose four Republicans on the floor and still be speaker. Right now, he's got at least half a dozen Republicans who have come out and said, I'm a hard, no, or I'm leaning against voting for him. And that doesn't mean everyone else will vote for him either on the

Republican side, so he's doing everything you can right now to tack as far right as he can. And woo some of these conservatives who think that he's not going to be hard enough on the Biden administration.

KING: So here's five of them. We could put up on the screen for you. You mentioned his math problem. Congressman Ralph Norman, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Bob Good, Matt Rosendale have all said at least as of now, they will not vote for Kevin McCarthy. A friend of theirs is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been a longtime McCarthy critic who is now on Team McCarthy. She tweeted this, we can show you this morning, video of the border visit, saying this should give conservatives a glimpse of the kind of speaker Kevin McCarthy will be and why I'm supporting him.

He's demanding Mayorcas resign or face investigations leading to impeachment, more things like this to come. In other words, making speaker will keep investigating and if necessary, if we have the wind will impeach.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Which just shows you exactly what the Republican Party's problem is, is that really, you know, what people were voting for out in the country and what they wanted them to be focusing all of their time on. And it's so it's such a good example of how, you know, this very small amount of people can continue dragging the party to the right. Along pursuits that really don't address what the concerns are of the voters out there on inflation, and, you know, all of the things that led them to vote for Republicans in the first place.

KING: And yet before you jump into this, if we could show those five, again, these are five people who would support aggressive oversight, even investigations moving on to impeachment, Ralph Norman is on the left of your screen there. This is why he says he just can't do it when it comes to Kevin McCarthy.


REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): I'm not going to support Kevin McCarthy, Andy Biggs will make a great one. He's knowledgeable, and they are growing number of us who have just lost faith and that McCarthy could do the job.


KING: And so that's where McCarthy sees the worry. To Maeve's point, is there any possibility that a group of more centrist or pragmatist emerges and says, well, we'll withhold our votes to because we don't want all these investigations, or at least we don't want so many investigations, because we don't think that's what the American people want.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Looking incredibly difficult to hold this caucus together, in part because you do have a lot of centrists who want and districts that Biden carried by 5, 10 points who are trying to think about their reelections, a lot of them are freshmen, and they want to stay in Congress, and they want to be able to show that they can work across the aisle. They do not want to be focused all on investigations focused on, you know, the president's son trying to impeach people.

And it's very interesting to see the difference between what Kevin McCarthy said in his language, which is somewhat nuanced. He said, you know, we'll consider impeachment. And, you know, someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who interpreted Kevin McCarthy statement as we will impeach the Department of Homeland Security Secretary. So it's very clear that McCarthy is going to have some difficulty trying to keep these various wings of his party together, because different people are hearing different things.

KING: Right. And, again, as you watched us play out, we just had the election they want a much smaller majority than they thought they were going to win. He's going to have four or five votes to spare, as you noted. One thing you could have heard was I'm at the border because it matters to us. We want more border security. If President Biden will give us that we're willing to listen to a solution on the dreamers. We're willing to listen to a guy from Central California to a guest worker program. None of that, this was not about policy at all.


CAYGLE: No, absolutely not. I mean, this was just a red meat play 100 percent. I think the irony here, though, is, the argument on the far right with these hardliners is that he is not conservative enough. And McCarthy will do and say anything just to get the votes. They frankly, don't trust him. And so they look at his comments last month, saying I don't want to do impeachment for political purposes. I don't see it before us right now.

And then they look at what he did yesterday. And they're like, which McCarthy is this? So I don't know if this really helps him a ton with the far right nor like to lose that. The moderates coming from Biden districts who want to hold on to their majority in 2024 and don't want to be spending time on this.

KING: It's an interesting point, because forgive me, he just looks weak as he does this. So same Kevin McCarthy who said after January 6th, Donald Trump bears responsibility, then counted to 10 and ran to Mar-a-Lago to say I'm sorry, nevermind. He is, you want to be speaker, you have to project strength, do you not?

OLORUNNIPA: You should, but in a caucus this fraught and with such a slim majority, you also have to try to bring people together. And it's very difficult because there's so many different personalities, so many different political constituency, represented by the Republican caucus that Kevin McCarthy has not quite yet been able to rally everyone around him and say that he is the one person who could hold this caucus together the way Nancy Pelosi did with the Democrats. She was able to be the one person to hold everyone together. And it's not quite clear yet that McCarthy has that level of stature within his party just yet.

KING: Forty-one days, we'll see. I mean, the other issue is do they have an alternative, right? Who would the Republicans have if not.

Up next, more politics, CNN's K-file, you won't want to miss this story just details how Herschel Walker got a tax break this year by listing his Texas home as his primary residence. Yes, that's the same Herschel Walker running for Senate in Georgia.



KING: What you might call a Texas sized question today for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker. CNN's K-file reports, Walker is getting a $1,500 tax break because he listed a Texas home as his primary residence this year. A local Texas official tells the K-file, Walker took that tax break for both 2021 and 2022. That being after launching his Senate bid in Georgia.

Walker is the Republican trying to unseat Senator Raphael Warnock in a December 6th runoff election. Our great reporters are back with us. This is not hard, basic campaign 101, check the tax forms, check your housing forms check everything else. He's taking a tax deduction on a primary residence in Texas while running for the Senate in Georgia, bad.

OLORUNNIPA: Not good. Not good, folks. In terms of the fact that this happened in 2021 and 2022, after launching his bid, potentially after winning the primary, it just shows sort of the lack of vetting that is in this process on the Republican side in the state of Georgia, in part because former President Donald Trump decided to give Herschel Walker his stamp of approval, and he did not need to be vetted as a result, and voters decided to follow Trump's lead.

And now there are a number of Republicans in Georgia who are unhappy with the fact that Herschel Walker is their candidate, he was trailing in the original raise an hour at going to a runoff. And it seems like a lot of the steam is running out of his campaign. Now, we don't know what's going to happen in a couple of weeks when voters vote.

But this is not the kind of headline you want to try to motivate voters in Georgia to say that you should represent them. There are already a number of Georgians who say Herschel Walker should not be our representative. The fact that he's claiming a tax break in Texas, does not help that at all.

KING: It doesn't have a lot of room for error in that I think there were, what, 200,000 people who voted for the Republican candidate for Governor Brian Kemp, who did not vote for the Republican Senate candidate. So you already have a Republican enthusiasm question. If you're starting to see headlines, the guy who wants to represent you is getting a tax break for a house in Texas not helpful.

CAYGLE: Yes, I mean, there's, as you guys mentioned, there's a huge enthusiasm gap on the Republican side. I think that's only going to increase now that Democrats for sure have control of the Senate. I mean, adding another Democrat Democratic Senator would help them in terms of what they're able to do. But I don't think you're going to see many Republicans and independents who didn't vote for Walker the first time who are incentivized to get out there and vote for him this time, right?

We have seen Republicans try to counteract that. Brian Kemp is out there with leaflets their mailing with just his photo Walker's not even on them saying please go support Herschel. And he also cut a direct to T.V. ad but you know, only time will tell, I think. But that's an interesting point, though, about what his camp thinking here in the sense that he campaigned with Walker over the weekend. It did not campaign at all with him before the general election in November.

He campaigned with him over the weekend. You mentioned the leaflets. He's kind of deal with Mitch McConnell to turn over essentially his voter file as turnout operation. And the ad you mentioned right here.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden. That's why I'm back in Herschel. And I hope you'll join me in voting for him too.


KING: He didn't say a peep in the normal election. Now all on board in the runoff election, why?

RESTON: I mean, that's what the party's got to do to get him across the finish line at this point. And to your point, a moment ago, I was talking to someone who's involved with the campaign and in Georgia this morning, and the Republicans are hoping that there was going to be a huge drop off in terms of the number of voters that turnout and we saw so many of those tickets litters.

This time, the Kemp, Warnock voters, it's really a question I guess the GOP is wondering what those folks will actually be motivated to turn out. And the best case scenario for them is that know the people that had an issue with Walker in the first round will just potentially stay home. We don't know how big that group will be. But that's kind of their best bet.


KING: And you hear the argument from Brian Kemp making it, you need to vote for Herschel Walker to essentially check Joe Biden, right. Well, two Republican senators in the current Senate who know they are going to spend the next two years in the minority, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham with Walker last night doing a television interview with him last night. Ted Cruz making similar point.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Chuck Schumer has told you, he doesn't want Herschel Walker to win. He doesn't want a 50-50 Senate. Why is that? Because in a 50-50 Senate, the committees are even, which slows him down. If Raphael Warnock wins, Schumer can expedite confirming radical judges to take away your free speech rights, your religious liberty rights, your Second Amendment rights.


KING: That's a GOTV effort, as we call that. It's a harder message to take, not to nationalize this race, when you're not talking about control of the Senate, you're talking about some of the intricacies of the Senate, 50-50 versus 50-51. You lose a lot of voters when you start getting in the weeds like that. And so this race is not as important as it would have been if it was going to determine who's going to control the Senate.

And so there are a number of Republicans who may have been able to cross over and hold their nose and vote for Herschel Walker if it meant control of the Senate and a number of these different rights that Senator Cruz was talking about were more sort of hanging in the in the lurch. But instead, this is going to be, you know, a Democratic controlled Senate no matter what Democrats are going to run the committees no matter what, and some of these inside baseball things that Senator Cruz was talking about loses, is going to lose a lot of voters and it's going to be hard to motivate people based on that.

KING: And yet the flip side is if the mood among Democrats becomes, A, we already have the majority no matter what happens here. And B, we got this race, right, Walker has all these problems, we got it. So I don't have to vote. It's covered, which is why Obama's coming in, the former President Barack Obama coming in on December 1st, five days before the runoff. And while Warnock is running a very aggressive TV ad campaign questioning, first on Walker's character in here and whether you can trust him on anything.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): The whole country is finished voting, and only us left. You think Herschel Walker would want to explain what he do in the Senate, if he actually wants to represent Georgia. Instead, he repeats the same lies, trying to distract from what we all know is true about him. But I think Georgians will see his ads for what they are, don't you?


KING: Whether you're a Democrat or Republican or Independent, the Warnock ads are catchy that they've just been effective throughout the campaign.

CAYGLE: Yes, they do land pretty well. I mean, they -- people pay attention to them. I think the other thing about Warnock that's interesting is he's running a very consistent message, like you've said, campaign stops all of this week. He's saying the exact same thing. This race is about character. It's about competence. Why would you give these powerful tools of the Senate to someone who doesn't stand up for either? That is his message.

And then on the other side of things, you have Herschel Walker, who there's just more controversies coming out, the latest being this, you know, Texas residency, right. So I think that definitely works in Democrats favor going into this.

KING: This is the third time, Warnock -- fourth time Warnock set to run for this seat in two years, essentially, election, runoff, election, runoff.

RESTON: Lots of practice.

KING: Right.

CAYGLE: He knows what he's doing.

KING: Right.

RESTON: Yes. And it's just, you know, how on earth does Herschel Walker like drive a message? What's distraction after distraction? And, you know, this latest one is different because people look at that and say, well, I don't have those advantages. And I don't, you know, and he -- there's no way for anyone to explain that.

KING: Right. And so you want to look at the stakes. Just look at the spending. This is so far, we have what, two weeks ago, three weeks -- two weeks ago, this race. Democrats have spent more than $25 million, Republicans have spent $16 million if you round up and more to come, more to come.


Up next, worth the midterm wait. A victory for one of those 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today. In California, Republican Congressman David Valadao won reelection to represent the state's 22nd congressional district. Valadao, one of those 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the insurrection, who is only the second to be reelected.

And in California's Third District, the Democrat Kermit Jones conceding the race to Republican Kevin Kiley. Republicans now control the House. They have 221 wins so far, Democrats have -- hold 212 seats, two races yet to be called one in California one in Alaska.

The Biden administration is extending the pause on student loan repayments through June 2023. That pause was supposed to expire next month, but the forgiveness program does remain in legal limbo.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans special interest and elected officials sued to deny this relief even for their own constituents. But I'm completely confident my plan is legal. But right now it's on hold because of these lawsuits. We're not going to back down though on our fight to give families breathing room.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: In Qatar a picture of protests on soccer's biggest stage. The German soccer team, you see it here, covering their mouths ahead of their World Cup opener versus Japan. That gesture spotlighting a decision by FIFA, soccer's governing body to forbid teens from wearing a one love arm band in support of equal rights, FIFA had threatened to sanction teams and players who don that arm ban. Qatar the tournaments hosts criminalizes homosexuality. The company that makes those armbands says they have now sold out.


Millions driving to see their family this holiday week are paying the highest Thanksgiving gas prices on record. The national average for a gallon of regular now stands at $3.61. That's up about $1 from pre- COVID 2019 levels but down from the summers high. AAA says multiple states now at 340 a gallon or less.

And it is that time of year, please, time to vote for your favorite CNN Hero. Go to Vote up to 10 times a day every day. Remember, you can all use your votes for one hero or spread the love around.

Thanks for your time in Inside Politics today. Hope you have a peaceful and wonderful Thanksgiving. Boris Sanchez picks up our coverage after a quick break.