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Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On Seventh Speaker Ballot. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 12:30   ET



REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): You see, ladies and gentlemen, I came to fix this broken system. America has seen that problem for a very long time, too. The commitment to change it is new. The genesis of the prospect of changing it emerges from this moment and those since June that led at long last to the New Year's Eve statement of Mr. McCarthy and to these three days on the floor. America needs men and women of courage to do something new in Congress so that Congress can serve the American people.

The Lord said, behold, I do a new thing. We need more Byron Donalds. I know, I know Byron, he's not a prop. He's a man of personal conviction. He arrived at his convictions through authentic and genuine life experience. People ask me, what is the end game? How does this end? The answer to this question is that this is a dynamic process.

All of the decisions on this floor result from the coming together of minds, one way or another. This is the people's business. We will resolve the people's business. When we do, we will go to the mat for the American people because we will be led by people of conviction like the gentleman from Florida, Byron Donalds. I yield back.

CHERYL JOHNSON, HOUSE CLERK: The reading clerk will call the roll.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So we're waiting for the roll call to begin among stirrings among House Republicans that the negotiations between some of the rebels and the McCarthy camp has resulted in some conversions to the pro McCarthy camp. There's talk of Congressman Chip Roy and about 10 of the rebels possibly switching to McCarthy on this vote. We will see if that happens. There are still many holdouts. And remember, of course, Kevin McCarthy cannot afford to lose more than four Republicans. Audie Cornish, how are you expecting this day to proceed? Although I realize it's an unfair question.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no, well, it's a dynamic process, three words. I mean, it's actually nice to have a question we don't know the answer to. I do find it interesting that Byron Donalds can amass McCarthy any votes while Representative John James walked this earth, who got up and gave a very rousing and interesting speech on behalf of the party that he should get some points just for recasting Kevin McCarthy as a civil rights hero under the eye of Frederick Douglas. Like that alone should get him some votes in gold stars. But it is actually a moment where there's a big proxy fight going on, and hopefully people can remember that throughout the rest of the day. It's actually not about these ones and two votes. It's about where does this particular band of ideologues go now after a bruising midterm and after they realize that they maybe are not having the power they thought they would.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dan Bishop nominating Byron Donalds, so yesterday he was the one talking about progress being made with Kevin McCarthy. And so I don't know what sign that is.

CORNISH: Exactly.

COLLINS: Also the idea if the vote is going to look like it did yesterday, that says something, because overnight, Kevin McCarthy made major concessions them. And if he is making these major concessions and not getting any more votes, what does that tell you about where this is going?


TAPPER: Well, that's the real question, Kasie, isn't it? Are there some people who just won't take yes for answer?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think the reality, too, is that the math problem remains the same. I mean, even if we see these 10 people change, I mean, yes, that would potentially be a political moment for McCarthy, represent a momentum shift. You know, what Ken Buck said to you was interesting that those five could, you know, vote present, take a walk, do something else. They don't have to vote for Kevin McCarthy. But I don't know about you all, but I certainly don't get any indication that they're prepared to do anything along those lines.

TAPPER: And just to note, we still haven't gotten to the Donalds -- there we go. Here's the first one for Congressman Donalds. And that is from Congressman Andy Biggs. That number for people watching at home, look at the Representative Donalds. If that number reaches more than four, then Kevin McCarthy will lose again, although what we are looking in this ballot is whether or not he improves his number.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So typically we have been getting to that number by cloud, I believe it is. We don't get through the seas. Look, as Kasie just said, this is a question of math. I'm going to date myself. I need Tim Russert's whiteboard right now. I don't think that Kevin McCarthy has the numbers or close to it at this point.

We've been told that the never Kevins have gone from five to potentially six. Our Hill team has been stopping some of them on their way into the floor today, and they've been saying, some of them have been saying, we won't vote present. We won't take a walk. So until that changes, welcome to Brown Hogs Day.

TAPPER: One of the other things, John King that we heard is Ken Buck Brown saying before the voting started he's going to vote for McCarthy. But if McCarthy doesn't get it today, he may very well McCarthy nominate Steve Scalise as the number two Republican.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Because they're embarrassed by the process. They're embarrassed by the spectacle they put on for the past couple of days. And they think eventually this must end for the good of the party and the good of the country. You asked a question a moment ago. Kevin McCarthy has given away everything. He's now given away the one vote, you know, lowering from five to one, the number of members it takes to come to the floor, to vacate the chair, to essentially say, we're done with the speaker. Let's have a vote to get rid of him or her.

He has given up just about everything. What does he have left to give? You asked a moment ago. They won't take yes for answer. They won't take Kevin McCarthy for answer. That's what they're making clear. And they believe by the end of this day, if enough of them stick together, maybe it goes down from 20. But if six or eight or 10 or more continues to say no, they believe by the end of the day they may get that. Are they right? I don't know. But that's what they think.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to go back to what, Audie what you were saying, about this being a proxy war. I think that's really, really important because what we have been seeing and we've talked about this, about the Republican civil war playing out on the floor, but now we're at a point where Kevin McCarthy has given all of these things and you have the centrist and there are some Republican centrists who are growing increasingly uncomfortable.

I just want to read a text I got from a more centrist Republican lawmaker, a centrist growing increasingly frustrated at bending the knee to a handful who never wanted to be in the majority in the first place. That's a very real sentiment. Will that turn into votes changing? I don't think so. But it will really be telling when it comes to the trouble that Kevin McCarthy will have when it comes or whomever is going to be speaker when it comes to governing not just with this block, but with those who say, wait a minute. Did we not learn any lesson from the election that this is not what Americans want? They want us to do different things like, I don't know, govern.

TAPPER: Well, but they look at their reelection, and they look at the fact that they have more MAGA people in Congress right now than they had before.

BASH: They do.

TAPPER: And they think that's the message.

BASH: Well --

TAPPER: And the fact that Republicans control the House.

BASH: That's what they think. Republicans control the House by such a narrow margin that we're in this situation, that Kevin McCarthy is in this situation. And I think if you just look at the broad swath of all of the races, that it is true that a number of Republicans who would have otherwise won their districts did not win because they were too MAGA, and when say MAGA, let's just talk about what we're talking about tomorrow is January 6th election deniers.

TAPPER: So let's just listen in because we're just a few away from the fifth vote that will likely go for Congressman Donalds, in which case Kevin McCarthy will have lost line his 7th in a row. The one we're expecting to is this one, Michael Cloud. Donalds.


And there you have it. Kevin McCarthy has just lost, you know, his bid for speakership on the 7th ballot. The real question on this ballot, though, as I said, is whether or not he's going to improve his vote count at all based on these intense negotiations.

KING: And so does he get some of them back and then can they adjourn or at least go into the cloak room or on the floor, cut a deal to get these other members to somehow vote present? But there's danger in that math, Jake. Nine, if nine -- if everybody is there and nine Republicans vote present, you lower the threshold to 213.

So what is the most votes Kevin McCarthy has received 203 on the first ballot, I believe. So can he get 10 more votes? Because if you lower the threshold below 213, then Hakeem Jeffries will win. Now, again, they could vacate him after an hour or after a day, but that would be the ultimate humiliation to actually have a Democrat win an election. But so can -- they can't do the chess unless they get a giant number of the holdouts to come over. Otherwise the chess doesn't work.

TAPPER: Let's throw it to Erin in New York. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Jake. Yes, so David Urban here. So we don't yet, of course, know the margins, the numbers here, but it's 7th time it fail.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's 7th time of fail, it's going to be 8th time of fail, maybe nine times of fail. I don't think we'll get to 133, but, you know, it's going to be up there. I think we're going to be here for a while and we'll see. I heard that, you know, Scott just shared with some news that the three negotiators who were negotiating last night with the McCarthy team Perry, Donald, Byron Donalds and Chip Roy left the floor, kind of huffed off the floor.

And so I don't know what that means, but I heard from folks in McCarthy team and some other kind of moderate members who are negotiating that things are progressing, they're making good effort, they were making, you know, good progress and they were optimistic, right?

And so we'll see what that translates into the people. Do people, do they peel off a few votes? Yes, we'll see. I mean, it doesn't look that way right now. But listen, I think that if, you know, if John James could keep going, he might have changed some more minds. He did such a phenomenal job this morning. You know, but we'll see it's I think we're going to be here over the weekend. BURNETT: All right, so Scotland, let's play into this, though, as we continue to find out, all the exact numbers. So it appears to fail on this round, but we don't know the exact numbers. Does it matter if it's all 20 still or whether you peel off one or two at this point? Is that relevant?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It would be relevant because it would show that some people were listening to the negotiations and believing that McCarthy had moved enough to earn their support. So if he were to get a vote or two, I think that even if he's short, that's significant. The other things I'm looking at and hearing are, number one, there is mass frustration among the 200 that too much is being given away to people.

And then the other thing I'm looking at is among the 20, I don't think they move monolithically. I don't -- I'm not -- there's different people in that faction for different reasons. You know, the Chip Roy's and the Matt Gates is I think, are in different places. And so let's say McCarthy was able to cut a deal with the people who had legitimate policy and process ideas. Is that going to convince Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert? It doesn't sound like it. So that's the other thing, I think, throughout the day, will we finally see the split in the 20? And what is that split? Is it five? Is it seven? Is it eight?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Twenty is a big number, 20 is a big number. This isn't like a marginal thing. He's got to turn three quarters of these people around. But let me tell you something. I'm, you know, Jake said that he's made a cornucopia of concessions. He's surrendered. I mean, the truth of the matter is, whether the 21 to accept it or not, they've won, they've won either McCarthy becomes a neutered, powerless speaker who has a sword of Damocles over his head that could fall at any time because anybody in that body could call to vacate the chair or someone else becomes speaker.

But he -- they have won this. I mean, the only thing that's left is for, you know, one of them to drive out with McCarthy's car and another one to wear his coat. And I mean he's given everything away.

URBAN: But Axe, if -- do you think if you give in to these -- if McCarthy gives in here, right, to these folks, whoever's next is going to experience the exact same listen scenario?

AXELROD: My concern is not for the Republican Party. My concern is for the country. And I think this is going to be -- this is a precursor of an awful couple of years.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And that's a really important point because, again, giving all the things that he's giving away, not just at what cost, but what is that going to look like over the next couple of years if every day, every week we are back here having to vote again, nothing is going to move. And, you know, the other thing I do want to say, this is exactly what the American people voted against.

You have a handful of MAGA extremists, destructionists, I would call them basically holding the United States House hostage over the things that they want, which are not the things that a majority of Americans voted for, who voted for, hey, we want you to get some things done, which, by the way, your former boss, Scott, Mitch McConnell, sent a very strong message, it seems to me, to the House yesterday to say, I'm not going to play that game with you all.


JENNINGS: The House doesn't have to do a ton of stuff, needs to pass the budget. We'll have to do the debt limit. It needs to pass appropriations bills. With those three things if you couldn't wrangle these five to 10 people, then all of a sudden the Republicans are over begging Democrats for help. And by the way, the help won't come for free.

You'll end up with Republicans having to give away goodness knows what to Hakeem Jeffries, to get the votes to do the basic functioning as a government, which no Republican voted for, I can assure you, anywhere in the country. And so that, to me, whoever becomes speaker here, I still think McCarthy has a good chance. But what does this portend for the future --

AXELROD: Those discussions have happened, by the way, between moderate Republicans and some on the Democratic side who have expressed a willingness to consider it. But what they've been told is McCarthy doesn't want to do that because he feels, you know, this is the box he's in to cooperate with Democrats is a death sentence for him as well. So he's really in a terrible position.

URBAN: Listen, I don't think it's going to be as bad as you'd like to see and predict. I think once you get the speaker, you're going to have robust oversight from Jim Jordan, the Judiciary Committee, you're going to have robust oversight of the border by whoever the chairman of Homeland Security is. There's going to be aggressive oversight. As I said before, oversight by a majority of one feels exactly the same.

AXELROD: I'm not looking for chaos. I'm not. You know, what I'm worried about is, for example, when the debt ceiling has to be --

URBAN: Well, that's in August, right? Yes.

AXELROD: And the speaker of the House does the responsible thing and doesn't let the country default on its credit, that will almost certainly trigger one of these motions, and you'll have another one of these. We'll be all sitting around here watching the role being --

URBAN: But that's a Republican problem every time the debt ceiling we approach, the debt ceiling, Republicans struggle with that, right? So that's not a McCarthy problem.

AXELROD: But not at the risk of being -- not at the risk of being reposed.

BURNETT: So just as we're hearing these in the back of our ears and of your ears, you're hearing it as well, Matt Gaetz, who obviously has, you know, is one of the never, never, never has just voted for Trump. So --

URBAN: He's trying to get back into good graces, I suppose, right? Maybe Lauren Boebert will vote for Trump, too. She told him to kind of shut up and go away.

JENNINGS: That is a big issue here. He had no impact on these -- the purest MAGA congressman yesterday.

FINNEY: Well, he's come out and said go for McCarthy. He did.

JENNINGS: Yes, he had no impact. And not only did he have no impact and then Boebert goes down to the floor and is ordering him around in public. I mean it was kind of humiliating truthfully.

URBAN: I mean I could predict with 100 percent certainty that Donald Trump will not be sending Lauren Boebert a Christmas card next year.

AXELROD: You know, I was looking at a poll that came out this week and there were ratings of various legislative leaders. Nancy Pelosi among Democrats was 73-19. Kevin McCarthy among Republicans 42-33. It's not like he's a beloved figure among Republicans. So what they're fighting over a guy, you know, no one wants to storm the ramparts for --

JENNINGS: I mean, what Republican leader is, I mean, our sport is kicking the crap out of our own leadership. The Democrats have, you know, there's been internal wrangling, Karen, but ultimately you uplift your leaders, you know, you've uplifted Nancy Pelosi but we're like crabs in a bucket. We have been for 12 years. One climbs at the top and everybody tries to drag them down. And by the way, there are consequences to that attitude and we're seeing it today.

FINNEY: But also to consider that Nancy Pelosi, I mean, because there's also a generational issue going on here with the five of the 20. I'm going to remember my numbers, right, in terms of how they view what their job really is. They view their job as getting clicks, raising money, creating chaos, not actually legislative --

AXELROD: Mission accomplished.

FINNEY: Mission accomplished. But they're not actually interested in legislating. Pelosi understood where her caucus was, how to get people what they wanted, what they need. I mean, the fact that for example, you have Kevin McCarthy just met with some of the freshmen. Was it last night? He should have been doing that over the holiday to try to understand where the caucus was when he came in.

AXELROD: I don't think anybody here, these guys, anybody would disagree. Pelosi was a legislative genius. She was great at what she did. But there's a big gap between being a legislative genius and what we've seen these last few days, which has been a kind of parade of errors. You know, John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address in a different context, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside. That's a little of what's going on right now. Kevin McCarthy has been placating these people for years and now he may end up inside.


BURNETT: Well, yes, that certainly shows there's no loyalty, no payback for anything like that. Well, it is, as we watch this here unlucky numbers seven for Kevin McCarthy appearing to fail on another speaker ballot. You hear they are still going through the roll call here and going through. But right now he does not have the numbers. This would be a failure on number seven. More CNN special coverage of this chaos, the 7th vote just ahead.


TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the battle for the Speakership of the House of Representatives. Right now, you are watching Kevin McCarthy headed to his 7th defeat in his efforts to be named to be elected speaker of the House. He needs to win 218 votes. He can only afford to lose four House Republicans. He has already lost 10 House Republicans.

We knew that was the likely outcome today, Audie Cornish what we're looking forward to see if there was any movement because of all the concessions he made when it came to rules and procedures, all the things that Congressman Chip Roy and some of the other rebels have been asking for. But as of now, I have not seen any of these individuals who claim to care about rules changes, change their votes at all.


CORNISH: Right. I think if you're watching at home understand that each one of these votes sends a signal or a message. You don't actually have to know every single number which way. You just have to see is there -- is it changing directionally. And Kevin McCarthy last night didn't want to have an additional vote at 8 o'clock because he said we need more time.

This has been a whole night, we're in for the next day, and the numbers aren't moving in the direction we would like. So what is the signal everyone else is trying to send is the question we should ask ourselves. And is there another demand or another name? And I don't know, everyone else here has cellphones with more people in it than me, but I don't know what those sort of want is at this point.

TAPPER: Let's bring in an ally of Kevin McCarthy, former Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois. First of all, Congressman, happy birthday, I can't imagine you would rather spend your birthday doing anything other than sitting in a room by yourself answering our questions when we choose to come to you, so happy birthday.

But I have to say, I was told yesterday by House Republican, a supporter of Kevin McCarthy, that the sudden move to adjourn at 8:00 p.m. last night after saying they were going to reconvene, was because of fears among McCarthy allies, at least part because of fears that someone was going to bring up Steve Scalise and nominate Steve Scalise. And you just heard Ken Buck a few minutes ago telling me that if McCarthy does not win this today, he will likely or he will possibly put Steve Scalise's name as a nomination for the speakership. What do you think is going on right now?

RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, first of all, thanks for the birthday wishes. It's actually enjoyable to be alone in here than on the floor watching that circus if I was in Congress again. But in the end, I have not heard that was the reason why they wanted to go to a go to conference and adjourn last night. I heard the reason that they wanted to adjourn last night, Jake, was to actually go negotiate. Sure, I've heard that they've had fruitful negotiations, but in the end this vote is going to be a telltale sign, as many of you have mentioned all day, of whether or not there's going to be some changes.

Look specifically at Chip Roy. If Chip decides to change his vote to McCarthy or present, that's progress. And if Chip can live up to the commitment to get 10 people to come with him, I think you'll start to see some pressure going toward McCarthy and progress going toward McCarthy, too.

TAPPER: Yes. No, it's certainly not the only reason. I was told that they adjourned at 8:00 p.m. because of the threat of a nomination of Scalise. One of the reasons I was told, and certainly, obviously we also heard that negotiations were ongoing. But as you note, how successful could those negotiations have been if McCarthy gave a lot of the things they were asking for, including bringing down the threshold for a vote to vacate the seat of speakership, basically saying only one person needs to raise it for a vote to take place, and that significantly weakens the speakership from where it's been since 2019. That was given along with other concessions. And yet right now, we haven't seen one vote change. We're up to 11 votes for Congressman Donalds.

DAVIS: Well, it sends a message that, do these 20 really want to deal. Are they negotiating in good faith? And again, the one that's getting the credit right now for negotiating in good faith is Chip Roy. But the devil is going to be in the details of his vote. If he continues to vote for anyone other than McCarthy or change his vote to present, then these negotiations didn't amount to much. I think you're going to see more frustration coming from the 200 that are actually very angry right now. They want to see Kevin McCarthy as speaker. They feel that the conference, the will of the conference, the overwhelming majority of the conference that John James so eloquently talked about is not being listened to.

And there are a couple of folks out there now that are talking about moving on to other candidates, but you're not seeing that widespread from the folks that I've talked to personally over the last few hours.

TAPPER: And not to rub salt in your wounds, but we just saw the woman that defeated you in a Republican primary, Congresswoman Mary Miller vote for Representative Donalds again. Now, the total for Representative Donalds is 12. Again, I mean, one of the things that happens when these MAGA candidates defeat more establishment conservatives like yourself, sir, is this kind of chaos I think you would argue.

DAVIS: It is chaos. And there are a lot of folks that never McCarthy folks, they like chaos. They want the House to be more chaotic. We've seen that. I've seen that in private. Right now, the American people are seeing what I witnessed privately over the last 10 years play out in a very public setting.