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Minority Warns House GOP Against Shutdown; Judge Rules Trump Committed Fraud, Overvalued His Properties; Tonight, Seven Candidates Face Off In Second GOP Debate Without Trump. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today, it is still a big question whether, when, if Congress can actually keep the federal government's lights on. Right now, they are inching closer to a shutdown late Saturday night. CNN's Manu Raju is -- where else? -- on Capitol Hill. Manu, you are in the hallways as you normally are. I think you are in the Russell Office Building. Who have you talked to lately and what are they telling you about the state of play?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is just a lot of tension within the GOP, which is really driving these discussions right now and really driving the stalemate that's happening on Capitol Hill. There's a House and Senate Republican divide. The Senate Republican leadership has agreed with the Senate Democratic leadership to move forward with a spending plan to keep the government open until mid-November. But there's a problem. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy doesn't support the plan.


In fact, he indicated to his conference that he opposes it and said there's not support within the conference for moving forward on that proposal. So, leaving (ph) questions about where to go next. Now, McCarthy plans to try to push for a Republican-only plan to keep the government open with GOP votes alone. But there's another problem.

House conservative hard liners are opposed to the McCarthy effort, indicating they will scuttle any short-term spending bill if Kevin McCarthy goes that route. Now, there is also concern among some members in some swing districts, worried about the position of their far-right members and arguing that they need to come on board and get behind a House position. Otherwise, they are concerned that they will have a weaker hand and it could lead to a prolonged government shutdown.


REP. MATT LAWLER, (R) NEW YORK: If we don't pass anything, then you have no negotiating position. And so, I continue to reiterate to my colleagues, the importance of avoiding a shutdown and of passing a continuing resolution that the conference can support. REP. MIKE GARCIA, (R) CALIFORNIA: It's a very dangerous tactic to take to say, "Hey, I want to shut the damn thing down." Because it literally benefits no one. And it especially doesn't benefit the conservative platform. This is not a paralleling or supporting a conservative platform by any stretch of the imagination.


RAJU: And Dana, there are just a lot of questions about what will happen next. We do expect the Senate to pass its bill eventually, but because of its inclusion of about $6 billion in aid to Ukraine, Rand Paul of Kentucky plans to drag out the process over his opposition to that, but it is expected to pass probably into the weekend and then what happens? There are several options the Senate could pass the bill that doesn't ever get a vote in the House. The House Democratic moderates could join forces with House Republican moderates to try to circumvent the Speaker and try to force a vote on the floor. That's an effort that rarely succeeds, but one that is being actively discussed.

Or this could simply just be a prolonged government shutdown until McCarthy allows -- agrees to move forward with a bipartisan bill to keep the government open. But as you know, Dana, the threat from the far right continues to linger over Speaker McCarthy if he cuts a bipartisan deal. Some of them are warning they could push him out for the Speakership, for doing just that, showing just how complicated things are for the Speaker and for Republicans to get on the same page as Congress dares a shutdown into this weekend. Dana?

BASH: All right, Manu, thank you for that report. Don't go anywhere. We're going to bring in the rest of the panel.

And Jackie, I am going to start with you because you and I spent many years together --


BASH: -- where Manu is right now, walking the halls, and so many years. Kasie, I know we did too. So I'm going to bring you in next. But Jackie, starting with you, look, we see this chaos. We -- it's understandable that people who are watching this saw that -- the list of possible scenarios and their head is spinning.

But just to kind of boil it all down, at the end of the road, what is going to have to happen to either keep the government running or if shuts down, reopen the government is bipartisanship? There has to be Democrats and Republicans coming together, we're seeing it happen in the Senate. It's going to have to happen in the House too. The question is, at what point and how much pain is the Republican leadership, Kevin McCarthy in particular, willing to go through before he gets to that point?

KUCINICH: Right. Because right now, Kevin McCarthy can't even get his entire Republican conference around one idea. It's been I mean, I think, Ken Buck said "it's herding cats." Now this ends, as you rightly said, when Democrats and Republicans come together, but again, as Manu pointed to, McCarthy has this sword of Damocles over his head, that is his speakership, whether he's willing to risk that. That -- I mean, also will play into this as well. But also have to answer the question, if not McCarthy, who? And the fact that no one really wants this is job could play in his favor. But, in the meantime, really it hangs in the balance.

BASH: And those who want the job can't get the votes for the job. Kasie, as I bring you in, let's listen to what the Speaker said just a short while ago.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA) SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We will pass a continuing resolution, bring that rule up hopefully on Friday, that would keep government open, but at the same time, deal with the border. I don't understand where somebody would want to stand with President Biden on keeping an open border and not keep government open.


BASH: Kasie, it's so interesting the way he's trying to say to his conservative flank, those who are saying no, he's trying to effectively say, don't worry about the spending cuts. Not don't worry about it, but let's not focus on the spending cuts. Let's worry about the border. Everybody can agree on the border.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I mean he's trying to give them something that they can sell, but

BASH: Yeah.


HUNT: I think the challenge here, Dana, fundamentally is that in the past, there was an incentive structure that would have allowed these groups of -- vastly it's between three or four, up to eight hard-line members in this conference to get in line, get over it and get on board. And those incentives are just like gone now in the House. And instead, they are getting rewarded by the right-wing media, the circles in which they travel, for what they are doing.

And a lot of the things that McCarthy has tried to do through the course of the week and -- I mean, as you know, you and I have covered this in those hallways a lot. We have stood out a lot of doors, like while they were trying to avoid some of these shutdowns. And in the past, people could be convinced when they were shown that there was a lot of anger at them within their own conference, that leadership would perhaps punish them if they didn't go along with things. And none of that is working. And so, I think to a certain extent, McCarthy looks both stressed out and also kind of resigned, like it's going to happen.

BASH: Yeah.

HUNT: And it's just a question of how long it's going to take before the pain gets so great that these people are going to cave. And I think the risk for him is that there is no level of pain in this regard that is going to cause that.


HUNT: And he's ultimately going to have to face down this bipartisan vote.

BASH: That's exactly right. There is no level of political pain that those in his conference will -- they don't care. And you're right exactly right. And the levers to get people in line, I don't think they have been there since at least ten years. I mean, this is why we have a Former Speaker John Boehner, he knows all too well.

HUNT: And a Former Speaker Paul Ryan.

BASH: And he said what Kasie was just talking about -- a Former Speaker Paul Ryan, good point -- said what Kasie was just talking about, about the pressure. We actually saw that coming today from the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Let's listen to that.


MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE: We're talking about making sure the conservative members who continue to stand watch around the world and the Border Patrol and I.C.E. Agents who continue to contend with the Biden Administration's border crisis here at home have to go without their paychecks. The choice facing Congress is pretty straight forward.


BASH: Now Astead, you know this. The conservatives in the grass roots, some of them, and certainly those holdouts in the House, they see Mitch McConnell as sort of not somebody who is legitimate because he dares to talk to Democrats and he does deals.

ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Exactly. I mean, that argument you're hearing from McConnell used to be a persuasive one. You can see kind of Republican leadership, particularly in the Senate, really kind of call their caucus to get in line and make these specific arguments that this wasn't about D vs. R, this is about supporting border agents, military, the folks who will really be hurt by this government shutdown.

But o the earlier point that these individual congress members, particularly in the House on the right flank, have an independent power structure now. They are supported by right-wing media. They are popularized through Donald Trump. And they frankly find Mitch McConnell and that league of conservatives to be an oppositional force. I was in South Carolina when Trump led the audience in boos for Mitch McConnell. That was the reason they are kind of politically insulated from that type of pressure.

But I got to say, like with these types of situations, with shutdowns, we typically ask the question of who this benefits kind of D vs. R, if this were to happen. I think the point is really true that this benefits no one. This is just another kind of instance of pain that Washington would inflict on American people that really drives that sort of effect (ph) between what we see in kind of D.C. versus the rest of the country.

I think as we look to the election next year, that's really going to be a thing to track. These continued instances, do these shutdowns, do these impeachment inquiries, do they drive people to feel completely disconnected from the system. Do they drive people to be less likely to back D or R, rather than being something that benefits one party versus another.

BASH: Right. And the question, of course, is what people do we speak of. Are they the people who are genned up (ph) for the $5 donations with the most extreme rhetoric and actions, or are they the middle of the road, and the vast majority of voters who are not susceptible to those kinds of arguments. Great discussion, thank you all.

Coming up, New York judge -- a New York judge, I should say, rules that Donald Trump is liable for fraud. What does it mean for the future of the Trump organization? We'll talk about that, next.



BASH: Today, Donald Trump confronts a challenge to what he prizes most, the New York properties that bear his gold-plated name. A judge's ruling now imperils their very existence after finding Mr. Trump lied over and over, for years and years to banks and to insurers. Former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams joins me now to help explain all this and tell us what it really means. The first question, and I have seen people speculating this asking this question, is whether or not this is the death penalty for Donald Trump's businesses. Not so fast, right?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not so fast. Now, that's actually a term out of the law, Dana, the corporate death penalty where a judge in effect wills a corporation out of existence.


That hasn't quite happened here, where they've sort of erased the Trump organization. Now, what the judge has done is take away the certificates of operation for a number of entities operating under the Trump name. That means they can't do business in New York, at least some aspects of Trump's business, which is a big deal because it's a New York corporation. Now, whether that means they can't reincorporate at some point down the road or somewhere else, it's hard to tell. But this is a devastating and very bad blow for the Trump organization generally.

BASH: And the judge's tone was very, very sharp. He wrote, "In defendants' world, rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party's lie's That is a fantasy world, not the real world." What's your take on that?

WILLIAMS: It's not just that, the fact that the judge uses that language, but also imposes sanctions on the attorneys who represented the clients here. That in many respects is almost the bigger deal because he's saying that not only do I disagree with the legal arguments you're making, which happens in the law, but he's saying that they either misrepresented facts to the court or -- he uses the word 'bogus' and 'obstreperous' when talking about how they behaved here.

This is about criticizing or sanctioning attorneys and parties who have in effect, as the judge is saying, pretty much lied to the court and were pushing arguments that they knew to be false or frivolous. You usually don't see language this aggressive from judges, but judges don't often see conduct that was this egregious.

BASH: So interesting. Thank you so much for putting that into context. I really appreciate it, Elliot.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And when we come back, back to the story where I am in Simi Valley, California, the Republican -- excuse me, the Reagan Library. Seven candidates will be on the stage to make their case to voters. For many, it could be really their last chance to make that impression and compete with the man who won't be here, Donald Trump. Stay with us.



BASH: We are just hours away from seven Republican candidates facing off on the debate stage where I am, in Simi Valley, California, minus the front-runner, of course. I'm going to bring in my friend and colleague, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, eight years ago, CNN was hosting the very first Republican primary -- second Republican primary debate, I should say, of the 2016 cycle. I was a questioner in that debate. It was a huge stage, so much so that there were two debates.


BASH: But just in terms of the party, where it was, it was much more in the mold of the man whose library this is, where we are, the Reagan Library.

ZELENY: No question. And just walking up here today and seeing all the Reagan history, I'm reminded of that debate eight years ago when it was still the Reagan Party. The Reagan era was very much intact. It was changing, it was transitioning, and that night really made it transition even more with Donald Trump. But it was clear so many of the candidates were indeed talking about the Reagan legacy, so many candidates were still talking about Ronald Reagan. That will not happen as much tonight. Mike Pence, the Former Vice President, wants to talk about that. I'm told Nikki Haley has also been sort of studying foreign policy lines and moments of Reagan, but it is an entirely differently Republican Party in our country's history in just eight years.

BASH: And one of the subplots of Donald Trump not being here, never mind that he and his campaign thinks that he is -- because he is so far ahead, he shouldn't go to these debates, is because there's a speaker series here at the Reagan Library

ZELENY: Right, on democracy.

BASH: On democracy. And Donald Trump wasn't invited and most all other significant Republicans were. Let's talk about what we're going to see tonight. There is a big difference between what we saw in Wisconsin and what we saw here. What is it?

ZELENY: That's the audience that's going to be different. There were nearly 4,000 people in that hall. It was where the Milwaukee Bucks play, where the NBA plays. This is a much more serene, a studious atmosphere. So I'm told there are just a few hundred guests invited largely by the Reagan Foundation. So that means perhaps a different kind of Republican, perhaps a Reagan Republican.

So, the reason that that could be different, we all remember the hooting and hollering that was interrupting Chris Christie and some others at the time. If that is not present on stage tonight, that could be significantly different and it could give a chance for a Mike Pence or Chris Christie to make their case a bit more. Not saying there won't any back and forth or interrupting.

BASH: Yeah, because the candidates can also invite some of their supporters.

ZELENY: They certainly can, but I think not having that loud

BASH: Yeah.

ZELENY: Sort of booming applause, that's one of the differences here. And of course, Asa Hutchinson also is not here as well. So there will be seven candidates on stage tonight. It could be some of their last opportunities. But we should keep in mind, Iowa and New Hampshire voters are watching this with more open minds perhaps than some national voters. So, we'll see what happens.

BASH: You know, that's the point that David Chalian made at the beginning of the show and I'm really glad that you made it to end it. Thank you so much.

ZELENY: Great to be here with you. Thanks, Dana.

BASH: I'll see you back there. We'll go through the library together. Yeah.

ZELENY: We will. Great. BASH: Thank you so much for watching. Don't forget to tune in tonight, CNN's Anderson Cooper and I will host the Republican presidential debate post-debate analysis, live tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Get the critical context and political analysis that you need, right here on CNN. Appreciate you joining "Inside Politics" from Simi Valley today. "CNN News Central" starts right now.