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Gaetz Threatens To Oust McCarthy From Speakership; Newsom To Appoint Laphonza Butler To Feinstein's Seat; Rep. Lee On Appointment Of Laphonza Butler To Senate; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Honored On New Postage Stamp. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 12:30   ET




REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I am not the type of person that just says you blow by somebody because they're getting a medical treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to follow up on Manu's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't obviously move this resolution today here. Some are saying, well, you're going to maybe string this along for a few days. Tell us parliamentarily what your goal is. Are you going to drop this at 2:00? Are you going to wait for the answers to your questions and drop this Wednesday, Thursday? Explain the timing of this.

GAETZ: Yes, I'm going to be doing it this week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to follow up --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And does President Trump talked about you this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to follow up on Manu's question, if this does fail, will you bring this up again?


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How often, like every day? What's your -- this would -- you know, do you think that you could win this vote eventually and you're going to keep doing it until you think you have the vote?

GAETZ: Like I've said, it took Speaker McCarthy 15 votes to become the speaker. So until I get to 14 or 15, I don't think I'm being any more dilatory than he was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of your colleagues say that they want to change the motion to vacate rule after you bring it forward saying that one person shouldn't be allowed to do this. Obviously, that was an agreement that you came to in January. What do you say to those colleagues who want to change the motion to vacate? These are GOP colleagues. GAETZ: And certainly within the prerogative of my colleagues to offer any change to the rules that they would like, that would be subject to a vote on the House floor, and there's a procedure in a process to do that. The rules aren't written in stone, and so we'll see how that goes.

RAJU: Have you spoken to Mr. President Trump about this?

GAETZ: I have.

RAJU: And what was his advice to you?

GAETZ: I think I'm going to keep that between the two of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you talked to Speaker McCarthy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you waiting --




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: A very interesting, very colorful, impromptu press conference from Matt Gaetz, the Republican of Florida, who just went on the House floor and did not yet make the motion to vacate. He just said because, for procedural reasons, he couldn't do it, but he will very much, do it later this week.

Manu Raju was there. First of all, Manu, thank your photojournalist. That was some excellent work as you were talking, capturing all of that coming down the --

RAJU: Mr. Eddie Gross.

BASH: Of course it was. All right, Eddie --

RAJU: Give him a shout out.

BASH: Thank you, Eddie. A lot to unpack there, but that last question that you asked him about Donald Trump, whether he has spoken to the former president and he said, yes, I mean, there's a lot of drama there, particularly since, it's quote unquote, my Kevin, Kevin McCarthy, who Matt Gaetz is trying to toss out of the speaker's chair.

RAJU: Yes. And look, remember what Kevin McCarthy, the first thing he said after winning the speakership after 15 belts, he walked off the House floor, walked into Statuary Hall and he said, I thank President Trump for helping me win the speakership. He credited President Trump with winning the speakership.

So what is Trump saying to Gaetz behind the scenes there? The fact that they talk is interesting, especially given that Gaetz is still moving ahead. We know that things have been a little frosty, at least from the Trump side of vote, some of the comments that McCarthy had made recently about Trump's strength as a candidate.

McCarthy has not yet endorsed him for the presidency, but McCarthy very much has aligned himself with Trump knowing full well the power that the former president has with many members of his -- of the GOP conference. So that's going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

But also here, making clear, Dana, that he still plans to move ahead and as you said, as you heard there, he could move ahead repeatedly. He could lose a first vote here, a procedural vote potentially, or maybe on the merits to kicks McCarthy out. But he claims he's going to do it over and over and over and over again until he gets his way.

So can McCarthy keep a coalition together to fend this off? We have never seen this before in the history of the country to be successfully to pull off ousting a sitting speaker. McCarthy is ready to grit it out. But the question is, does he have the votes? How many Republicans will side with Matt Gaetz and will Democrats at the end of the day help him?

All major questions at this chaotic moment unfolds. But as you heard there, Matt Gaetz says he's not concerned about the chaos. He says it's not him. He says it's the leadership that's creating the chaos. Dana?

BASH: Those are very true words. Matt Gaetz is not concerned about the chaos.

Thank you so much for that great reporting. Thanks again to Eddie.

I want to bring in my panel who is -- this is a -- an amazing panel to talk about what's going on in Capitol Hill. They know it very, very well. Jackie Kucinich from the Boston Globe, Carl Hulse of the New York Times, Rhonda Colvin and Leigh Ann Caldwell, both from the Washington Post.

Carl, since you basically, like, taught me how to cover Capitol Hill. Sorry, New York Times. What do you make of it?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Wow, what a moment that was. You know, one person, creating such a disruption. But I will say this about Matt Gaetz. He's proven so far that he knows where the votes are. He had talked repeatedly that he could have the votes to block this spending deal. And some people doubted him, but he did have it.

So, I think he knows he has enough Republicans with him to pull this off, but he was also saying later this week, later this week. Maybe he's trying to drag out the drama.


But it's really going to be -- the Trump thing is interesting, the former president had said on his social network, shut it all down if you don't get everything you want. Well, they obviously didn't get everything they wanted. In fact, they didn't get much of what they wanted. So, you know, it's all about the Democrats at this point, what are they going to do?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But -- and yet, so, when McCarthy was on Face the Nation this weekend, he made a point of just being effusive, saying, you know, president -- former President Trump is going to win the primary, and he's probably going to be the next president. And just being effusive.

And there's always a reason, and that's -- that little -- the question by Manu at the end --


KUCINICH: -- seems to be why. And, you know, let's not -- he used to be my Kevin, but Matt Gaetz, and it wouldn't be --

HULSE: It's my Matt.

BASH: My Matt --

KUCINICH: No, I think it's more like he's trying to make it their Kevin. And I don't -- and if Trump decides that that's the case, he'll turn his back on him.

BASH: You know, Leigh Anne, while we were watching this, you were talking about, you were giving us a bit of a reality check, which is, in those statements, Matt Gaetz was saying, well, he should be kicked out of the speaker's chair because he made a secret deal with the Democrats on Ukraine funding. But let's just say that didn't happen and the government shut down. He would still be kicking, trying to kick Kevin McCarthy out of the speaker's chair.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. So my -- when we all thought the government was going to shut down, my reporting last week was that Matt Gaetz was going to do a motion to vacate this week because the government shut down. Matt Gaetz, of course, was a person who was blocking and opposing these short term funding bills.

Now the government shut down, and now it is Matt Gaetz's -- or this government is open, and because of Democrats, and now that's Matt Gaetz's reason, it was also interesting that Matt Gaetz focused on the Ukraine component, and this backhanded deal, apparent deal that he has with the president over it because Matt Gaetz also said it.

There were nearly 120 Republicans who voted against Ukraine aid on the House floor. And so he is trying to bring those people and widen his support --

BASH: That's right.

CALDWELL: -- to oppose McCarthy.

BASH: Oh my gosh, that's so clever and it's so true. Let's just sort of fast forward a little bit to later this week, as Matt Gaetz said, whenever this vote happens, though, that we'll probably not to get to in the weeds, but you guys are all going to have to learn this when this happens. So it'll be a motion to table, meaning, a motion -- check me on this, am I right, Carl?


BASH: OK. A motion to table, meaning there will be a motion to just do away with this idea of vacating the chair or sort of killing Kevin McCarthy from his job. And then if, depending on how that goes, then there will be a motion to get rid of Kevin McCarthy. The question on both of those, but the first vote, in particular, is what will the Democrats do?


BASH: And let's just listen to what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Jake Tapper about that.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (R), NEW YORK: My vote beginning this term for -- through the House was for Hakeem Jeffries. And I do not intend on voting for a Republican Speaker of the House, but I believe that it's up to the Republican conference to determine their own leadership and deal with their own problems. But it's not up to Democrats to save Republicans, from themselves especially.


BASH: But she also said, you know, I do have a vote and it's not free, and other Democrats have said that too. Translation? Sure, I can support Kevin McCarthy if he makes a deal with us that we like.

COLVIN: Exactly. So to get the speakership, Kevin McCarthy had to make concessions with his own party. Right now, we're looking at what the Democrats are going to be asking of him. That's the biggest question of the week. How are they going to navigate this? Because this is a big deal for them, too.

I think, you know, covering the Hill for the last few months of this congressional term, you usually hear from Democrats that they're the party of unity. They have used that as their mantra this whole time. So think right this week, we're going to see are they going to be unified? Are they going to coalesce around something that will, you know, help Kevin McCarthy out there?

They're not going to help them out for just anything or out of the kindness of their hearts. That's what we're hearing on the Hill. They are thinking about ways to make this beneficial for them.

BASH: And what Nancy Pelosi said about this, which is the Democrats follow their leader, was her way of saying they need to stay together on this. We'll see if they do.

I just want to take a step back for a second because as we were listening to Matt Gaetz and he said, over and over that McCarthy was with the Democrats on their yellow brick road. And the worst thing that he's done is work with Democrats. I know this is Pollyanna and I know this is like not the world we're in, but isn't this what America wants? Maybe not the base. Maybe not the --

HULSE: Bases.

BASH: Or bases, OK. But when you talk to people who roll their eyes at Washington, it's because can't they just get along? Can't they work together? I know that this continuing resolution doing that in a bipartisan way was out of desperation, but it's not unheard of that there is bipartisanship in order to get out of a crisis or, God forbid, get what --

HULSE: Well, it has to be bipartisan right now because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. So it's -- the Republicans control a half of a third of the three chambers.


But in Republican circles, in particular, they -- it's -- they want what they want. I think they do overestimate their leverage. But if you look at the appropriations bills that they've been pushing, there's no way they can pass with Democrats. The two things that happened this year that had to happen so far. Increasing or suspending the debt limit and getting a CR happened with more Democratic votes in the House than Republicans.

CALDWELL: That's very -- that's one of Democrats asks is a coalition type of government.

BASH: OK, everybody, thank you so much. What a roller coaster. And we're just here now. We're about to go back up here.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he appointed somebody to replace the late Dianne Feinstein. This person is not Barbara Lee. Who was already a candidate presented and someone the Congressional Black Caucus among others were pushing for. Congresswoman Lee will join me after a quick break.



BASH: California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his pick to finish out the late Senator Dianne Feinstein's Senate term. Laphonza Butler, the president of EMILY's List, will become the -- excuse me -- the sole black female senator serving in Congress.

Joining me now to talk about this is Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been running for that seat since Senator Feinstein announced that she would not seek reelection. Thank you so much for joining me.

I want to just kind of give a backdrop to our viewers of some of the things that have been going on here. Before Senator Feinstein passed away, Governor Newsom said that if he needed to fill her seat, he would make an interim appointment, and it wouldn't be you or any of the candidates running for that seat in 2024, but it would be a black woman. You replied, quote, "The idea that a black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply checking a box is insulting". I want you to listen to what the governor told me responding to you.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: -- on what I said stands. If under that hypothetical situation, I'm asked to make an appointment, I will make an appointment of an African American woman, period, full stop. And why? Because I think, best person, should be there and I happen to think that representation matters.


BASH: So with all that as a backdrop, what is your take on Governor Newsom picking Laphonza Butler?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you for having me, Dana. First, let me just take a moment to offer my condolences to Senator Feinstein's family, friends, our great state of California, because this is a moment really of sadness of grieving, but also celebrating her life. And we all have memories of Senator Feinstein.

I just want to mention one to put this in context. You know, right after the authorization to use military force against Afghanistan in 2001, was passed, of course, I was the only one who voted no in the House in the Senate. And, you know, Senator Feinstein disagreed with my vote, but she was an artist and she knew I loved orchids and she painted an orchid for me, which I still have --

BASH: Wow.

LEE: -- hanging in my place here. And she signed it for me and dated it in 2001. And that just showed you the kindness in her spirit. And, yes, she was a great leader, very forceful, very smart. very visionary, paved the way for so many of us, but yet she was a very kind person.

And when she had disagreements with you, she would also understand the disagreements and didn't consider it a personal disagreement, but also, gave -- was very gracious with myself in terms of her understanding and knew what I was going through then because it was awful in terms of the death threat. So, I just have to take a moment to remember her today again and in mourning and in grieving for her loss.

With regard to Laphonza, I wish her well and look forward to working with her to deliver for our golden state. I'm very focused on winning this election, though. Let me tell you, we have put together a great grassroots organization. People underestimate what we have going on for us in my campaign.

Our revolution has endorsed me. They're the organization that ensured that Bernie Sanders won the primary in California Working Families Party. I have the endorsements of six out of the eight constitutional officers, local mayors -- BASH: Yes.

LEE: -- assembly members, senators. So we're focused very clearly on winning this race.

BASH: Congresswoman, you said that a black woman shouldn't be a caretaker. We are learning that apparently there was no such deal, that Laphonza Butler should not just be a caretaker, meaning if she wants to, she is free to run for that seat, run against you. So did Governor, excuse me, did Governor Gavin Newsom do the right thing here?

LEE: Listen, we have been pushing from day one that any African American woman who he appointed should have the right and opportunity to run. And so we were glad that he made that decision to open that up and to back off of the restriction that was placed.

BASH: If that restriction no longer is there, are you disappointed that you weren't appointed to the seat?

LEE: Listen, I am running very hard to win this race. Of course, it would have been great if I -- because I did want to fill the vacancy if, in fact, that occurred.


But listen, we all have to just focus on what we're doing and I'm running very seriously. And we have this coalition, multiracial, multigenerational coalition, Gen Z for change, you name it. And our campaign is powered by people in the voters are going to decide who's going to win this race. And I'm going to make sure that the voters vote for Barbara Lee for the United States Senate.

BASH: Have you spoken to Governor Newsom?

LEE: No, I haven't.

BASH: Any regrets about your public criticism, or do you think that that got him to the place where he is today?

LEE: No, no regrets because he said he was not going to appoint anyone who was in the primary. And that was very clear from day one.

BASH: OK. Before I let you go, I'm out of time, yes or no, will you vote to keep Kevin McCarthy in his job?

LEE: Listen, this is a crisis of the Republicans. They got to figure this out themselves. Of course, our leadership, myself, our leader, Jeffries and others are talking about path forward, but this is something that they have to figure out and something that they created.

They're in chaos. We see this.

BASH: Yes. LEE: They don't know what they're doing. Then they're not delivering for the people of our great country. They're dealing with putting politics over people.

BASH: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you for coming on and thank you for sharing your memories of Senator Feinstein. Appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you. Nice being with you.

BASH: And ahead, honoring the legacy of Supreme Court Justice and pop culture icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.



BASH: Ruth Bader Ginsburg put her stamp on U.S. law and now the U.S. is putting her on a stamp. The new stamp shows Ginsburg wearing her signature white beaded collar. The stamp is being released 30 years after she was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton.

Thank you so much for joining us on Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.