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Now: GOP Hardliners Meeting In McCarthy Ally's Office; 7th House Speaker Vote Underway; McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On 7th Speaker Ballot; Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired January 05, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RODNEY DAVIS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: The American people have seen what I witnessed privately over the last 10 years play out in a very public setting.
I want to thank you for the birthday gift that you just gave me to remind me that my former colleague who beat me voted against Kevin McCarthy. But there's something to think about here too. Club for Growth, David McIntosh, made a deal last night with McCarthy that I think he and his organization thought would move some of these individuals off of the fence, off of Byron Donalds and to Kevin McCarthy, but we're seeing that that's not the case.
People who have their campaigns funded by David McIntosh and Club for Growth are not listening to him. They're not listening to former president Trump. So do they really have the influence that they think they have?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, chaos feeds on chaos. Happy birthday, Congressman. We'll come back to you in a second.
Let's go up to the Capitol now to Manu Raju. And, Manu, you tell us about this key meeting of these rebels, of these conservative holdouts that's happening right now. Tell us more.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this can be an absolutely pivotal meeting. Several of those members we are looking very closely to see how they will vote. Our hold up right now, Tom Emmer's office. He is a member of the Republican leadership. These holdouts, including the people we are looking for Chip Roy, Scott Perry, Byron Donalds, Dan Bishop, all people who have not read three of the four haven't indicated how they may vote on this particular round.
I asked Byron Donalds himself who, of course, has been nominated here in this ballot, whether he will vote for himself, he refused to say. He would not say whether he would vote for himself. If you guys have a camera, we can all see it. You all see it. When I go to the floor. He was walking in a very -- it appeared to be rather tense moment to see and comment or walked out of the room. They walked back in the room. And they were engaging in these talks.
Scott Perry, also, he just left the room. He would not comment about really much of where he is at the moment. Chip Roy, as he was walking into this room, I also asked him whether he's willing to vote for McCarthy here, he would not say.
It is very clear here that there are series of discussions right now because McCarthy sees these votes as essential and showing some level of movement. And here's Chip Roy.
Mr. Roy, have you decided you're going to vote for Kevin McCarthy right now?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): (inaudible)
RAJU: Have you made a -- have you made a decision yet? It's a (inaudible). You've heard any of that. But he said that they're having private meetings behind closed doors. And that's all we're getting. I asked him, if you probably heard that, are you going to vote for Kevin McCarthy here? And he said, well, he's not really going to comment other than having private meetings behind closed doors.
So there you go. It just shows you how significant this moment is. Because the McCarthy team know they have to get some support back on their side, go from the 20 opponents. Maybe they can get down to 17 opponents or maybe 18 or 19. Some deal that they can cut as they've been trying over the last days.
RAJU: They're still there. They're not committing to voting right now, Jake.
TAPPER: So, Manu, just because your connection isn't great, who did you just talk to that said -- that wouldn't commit to voting for McCarthy? Was that Chip Roy?
RAJU: Yes. That was Chip Roy. That was Chip Roy.
TAPPER: OK. So Chip Roy. And the reason we're -- the reason we're watching Chip Roy. Thank you, Manu. Appreciate it.
Let's talk more with our panel here. The reason we're all watching Chip Roy is because he is one of the 20 rebels who seems to have an opposition to voting for McCarthy right now, based in wanting to liberalize, democratize the rules of the House.
It does not seem particularly personal to Kevin McCarthy, as much as just an overall dissatisfaction with Washington, that's -- some people would say I'm being generous with my interpretation of Chip Roy's desires, but that is my view. He seems like he might be the first one that could change his mind, Jamie Gangel, if McCarthy makes all the changes that apparently he has already made.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So Chip Roy has been more than signaling that and he put out there that he had 10 votes with him. We're now at 14 plus one. So --
TAPPER: And that one was for Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz. GANGEL: Right, and Donald Trump. So he doesn't have it. There is chaos in the chaos caucus right now.
But I just want to turn to Kevin McCarthy for a moment. At what point is it up to Kevin McCarthy to show leadership and step aside for the sake of the party and for the House and getting down to business?
TAPPER: Well, that's a good question for Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, listen, people close to McCarthy are saying, hour to hour, day to day now, that he's not going to do that for a couple of reasons, but not the least of which so far is that for all of the people who are saying never Kevin, he's got as we heard from Congressman James, 90 percent of the caucus with him. And of that 90 percent, he has a very staunch core group saying, we need you to do this because we need to fight the proxy battle that Audie was talking about, against this hardcore. Not necessarily that they love Kevin McCarthy.
It's not to say that if he can't get the numbers at the end of whatever this non-deadline is, that he won't step aside. But right now, he's telling everybody who he talks to. That's not happening yet.
TAPPER: You actually has 95 percent of the caucus, just doing the math (inaudible). He has 95 percent of the caucus. It's this holdout five percent.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. Well -- and I mean, the truth remains is we're, you know, continuing this conversation, but what Kevin McCarthy does that you can't beat someone with no one, right? So that Scalise question, it's still obviously very much in play.
But I've also heard that there are some concerns that perhaps Scalise wouldn't necessarily be able to -- I mean, that number of five is very -- it's a very small number, really, that could come out and say, you know, we're not willing to do this and I think there are some jitters about, OK, do they -- would Steve Scalise have some of the same problems, we'd be -- we'd just be going back to the drawing board and all these rules changes, et cetera.
GANGEL: Although Matt Gaetz has said, at least in the past, that he would vote for Scalise. So there is one there.
TAPPER: Although, Lauren Boebert, on MSNBC last night, told Stephanie Ruhle, that they don't want, and I don't know how many people she speaks to when she says they, but she is representative of six or seven never Kevins, that they don't want anyone in House Republican leadership. So no, Elise Stefanik. No Steve Scalise. I mean, none of these people who have been worshipping at the altar of Donald Trump, none of them are MAGA enough. And what --
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: She's not the only one who said that, Matt Rosendale also said that. TAPPER: From Montana.
COLLINS: From Montana. And he was talking about that today. So he said he also would not support Scalise.
Kevin McCarthy, though, I will say, I talked to Mick Mulvaney, and he was on the Hill this morning and he was talking to Kevin McCarthy himself yesterday. He said his resolve is strong and that he does not believe he is close to withdrawing his name from this race.
One thing to also note is that Warren Davidson, who actually nominated McCarthy for Speaker yesterday said he does not think he can get to 2018. He nominated him for Speaker. And he said, you know, we're never going to get to Kevin. We'll go through the coping phases. Everyone can be mad, but at some point, we have to have a speaker. We're going to have to find someone. So I think it's, you know, there's no alternative until there is an alternative when Kevin McCarthy makes clear it's not going to happen.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, his resolve to stay a candidate for speaker is strong, but his resolve is not strong, because he is giving up every day things he says he will not give up. The other day, he said he would not go from five to one, he went from five to one. He said, we cannot give it to these people. You do not negotiate with hostage takers. He's negotiating with hostage takers.
So he's alienating both his left and his right, if those terms even apply anymore. You know, I don't know how to describe it anymore, but he has his own people, yes, they're staying with him, because they see the risk letting the chaos caucus over. But they're increasingly looking at him saying, you had two years to figure this out.
KING: And everything you have done has been a miscalculation so far, and that you thought you would wear them down. He said he would sit there for 130 votes if it took so, and then he got humiliated five times, he said, can we please adjourn? This is humiliating.
So he keeps breaking his old promise to himself and they're looking at him and he's saying, weak is getting weaker is getting weaker. Why should we take a deal?
TAPPER: So Warren Davidson, the Republican congressman from Ohio, told you that this morning on "CNN THIS MORNING," I was watching, good interview. And he's, you know, he is a MAGA Republican.
COLLINS: Also Freedom Caucus.
TAPPER: Yes. He is a MAGA Republican through and through. So, you know, we have the never Kevin. I would call him a met [ph] Kevin, right? He's like he's in favor of Kevin McCarthy right now, but he's not particularly enthusiastic about it. And he's already saying publicly on CNN, no less, that maybe it's time for somebody else, as did Kevin Buck, so -- Ken Buck.
So the question is, how many members of the met Kevin caucus are there? Because they might be the first ones to blink.
KING: Congressman Joyce told you that two days ago.
KING: That I'm with -- I'm with him, but at some point, we have to do our job.
TAPPER: We have to have a speaker.
KING: Get something to our jobs.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We also might have to sort of swap out the Trump lens here for something else, in a way the House Freedom Caucus, while it's the members of sort of more or less stayed the same, even as you've had Trump take office, even when there was Obama.
They tend -- it's more of a -- I don't know how to explain it. It's an ideology to itself, not necessarily tied to Trump, right? The people who were in the Freedom Caucus in the beginning and are in it now, like, they have a very specific ideologies, it is anti-establishment, and Kevin McCarthy was never in it.
So just because he warmed up to Trump doesn't mean he had somehow captured that particular group of people. And right now, they have reached a point of a kind of political maturation, right, seven years into the group where they're trying to maintain the little power that they have. That's why one of their demands would be, please don't mess around in the primary process.
CORNISH: We have the advantage. That's such a specific demand, but very clearly is the lesson coming out of the midterms.
KING: I think it's even drop the establishment, they're just anti. They come to say no, they come to cause trouble.
CORNISH: Well, I guess I don't say that because it makes it sound like they're rational. They have their own internal logic and their internal logic is if I do not believe in government, if I believe in small government to the point of it atrophying, then I am doing my job by doing what I'm doing.
HUNT: But we are conflating a little bit, I think. The original Freedom Caucus. Look where Jim Jordan sits in an office, right? And he's about to get a gavel, right? That's one of the things that these 200 people that are supporting McCarthy are saying, they don't want him to give in on that. They don't want him to give any of these people who are voting against McCarthy, another gavel, but they're fine with Jordan doing it, and Jordan has been the face and leading man of the Freedom Caucus since its inception, essentially.
GANGEL: It just goes to show how much things have changed. HUNT: Right, it's huge change.
GANGEL: And Jim Jordan is now mainstream.
Cornish: Well, the tactics were learned from him, right? So this is reaping what you sow in terms of people have this experience of 2014, 2015 the government shutdown, the debt ceiling. This idea that you have the leverage to halt everything. They learned this from someone. They learned this five, six years ago, and now McCarthy is trying to wait them out because that's his lesson.
TAPPER: Let's sneak in a quick break while we can here.
Coming up next, more CNN special live coverage of the dysfunctions and snaring of the U.S. House of Representatives. House Republicans fighting among themselves over who should lead their new majority. Republicans in disarray. Stay with us.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. The defiance continues, conservative Republicans again denying Kevin McCarthy the job he wants, which is for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Welcome back to our special live coverage of Congress paralyzed now. Right now, we are on round seven of a Washington standoff between McCarthy and the GOP hardliners, the sort of ultra-ultra right, if you could even call them that.
Let's now go to Lauren Fox. So, Lauren, what is happening right now on the floor here as they wrap up this seventh vote which was a fail for McCarthy?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What you're seeing right now is the fact that after this extensive meeting in Tom Emmer's office, you see that Byron Donalds still voted for himself here. They are trying to finish up calling this roll.
Right now, there are 19 votes against Kevin McCarthy. Obviously, this is not great news for Kevin McCarthy, given the fact that that is similar to what we have seen over the last several days and obviously far away from getting him the votes he needs to be the next speaker.
Erin, we're still waiting to see if Scott Perry is voting, that is going to be a key vote to watch as well.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Lauren. And, David Urban, so still waiting on Scott Perry. Chip Roy, though, who, you know, had not said no to Manu Raju a few moments ago has been in the heart of these negotiations still standing by Donalds.
DAVID URBAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right. And we were just talking here off the air that, you know, that's -- the Kevin folks hope -- are hoping to see --
BURNETT: Let's just listen for a moment here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not recorded. You are not recorded. Donalds.
URBAN: Well, there we go.
BURNETT: Scott Perry for Donalds. So that also now not peeling on.
URBAN: Right. So, you know, we were talking in the break about how, you know, the Kevin folks are hoping to see somebody maybe vote, you know, vote president or kind of move a little bit. They may not go all the way and vote for Kevin, but they're kind of moving toward in the right direction.
BURNETT: Showing a bit --
URBAN: Yes, you're showing. So you've heard like Chip Roy and Scott Perry and Byron have been negotiating. They've been in and out of Emmer's office. They're talking, they're trying to move things. And so, you know, if you're Kevin McCarthy, the team, you want to see some movement today. You want to see if they just go to, you know, just a neutral corner, right? That's a big win for him today.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But at this point, and part of what we're seeing, frankly, is there may not be anything that the other side -- that they want, that this 20 wants. I mean, part of the rules of negotiation means there has to be something that the people you're negotiating with actually want from you.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we talked about this before, may be that they want to know Kevin McCarthy. I mean, that may be what they want.
FINNEY: Or what you said. They've already won, they've already gotten, which is this level of chaos.
URBAN: I would say -- I'm just saying to that, I don't think that's the Chip Roy -- and Scott pointed out earlier, right? Chip Roy is in one part. Boebert and Gaetz are another part, right? So if you're Chip Roy, if you're Scott Perry, I've heard from the folks in the McCarthy team, that those three are actually trying to get -- they're trying to get to yes.
BURNETT: So, what do you make of this? They're behind closed doors, right? Supposed you're walking in to cast his vote, didn't say no, that he, you know, they would -- to Manu, said they're still behind closed doors, emphasize that, but then went in and voted for Donalds, as, of course, did Perry and Donald.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, obviously, they're still talking. I mean, what's not clear to me is what else can Kevin McCarthy give to these guys? I mean, there's a lot of concessions have been made already. You would hope they could get to a place where the Roy faction could come over. That would show positive movement.
That still does not solve the Gaetz and the Goods and the Boebert. I think these are two totally separate groups who have totally separate motivations. And so then once you solve the Roy piece, the best maybe you can hope for us to get them to vote present, maybe, but they seem pretty sure.
AXELROD: So here's my question for you.
BURNETT: All right. I just want to go to Lauren Fox quickly again. Now that they've wrapped up this vote, it is formally a failure, and you didn't see anybody moving back over to McCarthy. What else are you hearing, Lauren?
FOX: I mean, that is really the key issue right now. You had so many of McCarthy's allies, really hoping that those concessions that he made last night, major changes to the rules were going to make a difference today.
Obviously, what we are seeing after these meetings, after these concessions, is the fact that things remain at a stalemate. And the question should now is if there's going to be something that can move this down the line? Do they need something in writing? Do they need to have something in order to ensure that these promises are good on paper? Or are they actually just going to be always against Kevin McCarthy?
And I think that is something we are still seeking the answer on, our Hill team watching very closely. I mean this vote --
BURNETT: David --
FOX: I mean, this vote obviously matters a lot, but no one changed here. And I think that that is what's so important about what just happened.
AXELROD: No. I was going to ask these guys. Do you think -- I mean, it seems to me that whoever come -- if McCarthy goes, it's not like this group is going to say, OK, we're giving back everything we were offered. So, I mean, in a sense, as you said earlier, the next person is just going to be in the same bind as McCarthy would be.
JENNINGS: And who -- and who is the next person? Jake pointed out that Lauren Bobert was on MSNBC last night, she said, Scalise was not acceptable. In fact, she said --
URBAN: No one in leadership.
JENNINGS: No one in leadership is acceptable. And so who is the next --
AXELROD: But that's her. That doesn't mean that all five would take the same position.
JENNINGS: I mean, they've been moving together. I mean, my point is at some point you get -- when you get to a place where there are no alternatives except, you know, Twilight Zone type scenario.
BURNETT: But you have someone like a Ro Khanna, this gets you into another world. Then you get into a world where you got Ro Khanna saying, well, I'll do Brian Fitzpatrick, or I'll do that -- or you suddenly -- is there a world now that we're actually looking at that it's possible that you're doing some sort of consensus candidate?
URBAN: Brian is a great guy, and he's a good congressman, great member, a good friend. And I just don't think Democrats are going to go there. I just -- they've already said it publicly, they're not going to join with Republicans. You're not going to see -- it happened in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State House.
URBAN: We had this happen and that's a positive step, but I don't see that happening here. It would be good for America, but I don't think it's going to happen.
FINNEY: It's hard to see it happening. However, if we're still sitting here next week, in the same position, some 10 more votes having been lost, and these other names, Scalise and others having not been able to get the number of votes.
URBAN: But there's no incentive for Democrats.
AXELROD: Well, the incentive is only the Democrats generally believe in government.
AXELROD: And they may want to get on with governing. And, you know, this is an untenable situation. I mean, I enjoy all your company, but we can't keep meeting like this.
URBAN: Well, you -- but you have to give -- you'd have to negotiate out in advance. You'd have to say, if you're if you're Brian Fitzpatrick, you'd say, listen, I'm going to be pro raising the debt ceiling. There's a work --
AXELROD: Oh, they're going to have to make concession. They're not going to come over for nothing.
URBAN: No, no. You'd have to make concessions to the Democrats and say, listen, here's what we're going to do, you get -- you meet, you know, in another backroom and say, I'll work with you guys. We're going to do this and have kind of a coalition government for lack of better word. And they could do it.
BURNETT: Right. But then -- if that -- if that were to happen, and I know we're sort of in --
URBAN: Cats and dogs sleeping together.
BURNETT: But if that happens, and then you have some sort of, I guess, from a governing perspective, success, that's, you know, from a pure political perspective, bad for Democrats, right? Because they don't want that Republican to look good.
URBAN: It would be a coalition government.
FINNEY: Well, but it does -- but it gives Democrats the opportunity to do what Joe Biden yesterday and to say, with our leadership, we were able to bring together coalition government. We were able to get some things done.
AXELROD: What it does and to solve the civil war within the Republican Party, and it will enrage elements of the Republican Party. And you'll see that play out in primaries across the country. So, you know, Fitzpatrick has a district that allows him to play that role. Not all Dem -- not all Republicans do.
URBAN: And, Erin, look, we just -- this is just a result of the election we just saw, right? The midterms.
URBAN: Where you had this incredibly -- you had really conservative members running these districts, and then, you know, winning the primary, and then losing the general. And so now you're seeing that played out on the floor of the House, right? The folks that want -- a lot of these people that want are saying, look, I got elected, I'll damn the torpedoes full speed ahead. I'm here because I got elected on this. This is my platform. And they're not even -- they're not even responsive to the president to help them put them there.
BURNETT: Where do you understand, Scott, that Republicans aren't here in leadership, about the sort of plan B, plan C? I'm not talking about McCarthy. I understand where he's -- where he is. But how many plan B, plan C, plan Ds are there even out there?
JENNINGS: I don't think there are any. I think there is mass frustration among 200 people, that they're being held up here. And even among that 200, if Kevin McCarthy is not your favorite person in the world. Now, at this point, you just don't want the other faction, the tiny faction that's holding up 200 people to win.
And so I actually think everybody's been wondering if people are going to start peeling away from McCarthy. I think there are people who do not want to give this five or this 20 the satisfaction of having won this round.
BURNETT: Right, which is -- which is why almost like when you go away, you don't go to the next Steve Scalise. It seems like you actually are going into these holy cow. We never thought we'd be there moments.
OK. To this point, Scott Perry has just tweeted. Now, we -- you were talking about how he's been in serious negotiations behind closed doors. So are you ready for this? URBAN: Uh-huh.
BURNETT: A deal is, all caps, NOT DONE. When confidences are betrayed and leaks are directed, it's even more difficult to trust. Totally unset. Like --
BURNETT: Unsatisfied. I will not appeal to the status quo. That's not a -- that's not, I'm working with you -- that is a --
JENNINGS: The goalpost -- the goalpost never stop moving. That's the problem. The goalpost never stop moving. The goalpost never stopped moving. At some point, you have to take yes for an answer. That doesn't sound like he's ready to do that.
AXELROD: I tell you.
URBAN: By the way, he --
AXELROD: At some point, the American people are going to -- you know, they're going to get tired of the spectacle, which is entertaining in a way, and they're going to say, holy smokes, like, nothing is happening. I can't get my stuff processed by my congressional office. I can't -- you know, there'll be consequences of this. And that pressure, it may not force those 20 to move, but it sure could force the 200 to move who actually care about, you know, governing.
BURNETT: All right. Well, the same 20 conservative holdouts rejecting Kevin McCarthy again. And as you can see from that tweet I just read from Scott Perry, someone they thought they could peel off, not going in that direction.
And so the House remains without a speaker. Our special coverage returns in a moment.