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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: McCarthy Appears To Suffer Defeat On 8th Speaker Ballot; Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) Discusses Speakership Vote. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 05, 2023 - 14:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What are we getting in the House right now? Crazy.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And we don't see any sign that it is changing. We thought that this morning that Chip Roy might be able to bring over some people, but it did not happen.

Kevin McCarthy is headed toward his eighth defeat. And this is a devastating loss.

Is there something else that he can offer, to John's point earlier today, the shirt off of his back? It doesn't seem to make a difference to the never Kevins.

I did speak to a senior Republican, and I said, is there anything that changes the vote at this point? And the source said to me, I think normal members will reach a point where they aren't willing to live with the concessions that Kevin is making in the House.

TAPPER: Audie, I don't know if it is about concessions. It might be for Chip Roy if they get this package and promises finalized on a piece of paper, but at a certain point, I don't know if he can win.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I understand what you're saying. If power is exerted through kind of a system of benefits and punishments, and Kevin McCarthy doesn't have either to offer, and neither the carrot or the stick, then you are in the situation that he is in now.

this is a breaking of the model of speaker, the speakership in a profound way at least for this party. And you know what makes a Pelosi effective and made a Tip O'Neill effective and Rayburn effective is that ability to bring the hammer down that you need to, make a deal that you need to.

It is not a personality thing. It was how the speakership office was working as we have known it the last 100 years at least, and you have a group of people coming, especially since Boehner, and they have said, we don't want this anymore. We don't want the top-down anymore, and we don't want you to dole out a committeeship to this person or that person.

And again, this is part of the existential debate, how should this place be run. And not because we are sticklers for the rules, but because it has a huge influence on the direction of legislation for the whole rest of the country.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But I think the key part of that, that you are missing in the Kevin McCarthy questions about the vote for Kevin McCarthy is that they are getting it. They're getting those concessions from Kevin McCarthy.

TAPPER: But he's not getting anything back.

BASH: But he's not getting anything back.

CORNISH: And that is why I am saying they are breaking the model. Right?


CORNISH: And by the time they are done, nobody who has this job, it is a diminished position. I think that's critical.

KING: They do not want government. That's a branch of the United States government. They want Anarchy. You can't have anarchy and government. They do not go together.

BASH: But the question is whether or not -- I mean, I don't know if we're ever going to get to the point where this is a question that is answerable.

But the question is, let's say that McCarthy ends up getting out, and there's a Scalise or somebody else. If those things are still on the table, will they accept it as long as it is another human in that speaker's role?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is a question that nobody has answered yet.

TAPPER: And coming up next, a very real reminder of what this paralysis of this House of Representatives among the Republicans means. Your government cannot work.

More CNN special coverage coming up after this quick break.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Under way right now, speaker ballot number eight. Enough Republican registers have cast ballots to sink McCarthy's big for speaker on the eighth Time.

McCarthy remains convinced he is inevitable. He said to Manu that he is defiant. The California Republican telling Manu that he is going to win more votes once he strikes a deal with conservative hardliners.. Of course, it has been a strong and solid 20 against him.

Let's go to Lauren Fox.

Lauren, here's where we stand right now for the people who are watching this and watching as these votes go again and again.

Failed vote number eight is still going on. The speaker-less House has important consequences. And we're not, at this point, close to getting a speaker.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. That means a lot of things, Erin, one of which is the lawmakers in that chamber are not legislating. They're not doing the basic job of what voters sent them here to do.

And this is a big deal for lot of moderates Republicans who are making the argument time and time again on the floor. There's a mess. There's a circus happening.

But they are not passing legislation. They are not even working on things that the Republicans ran on -- securing the border, trying to rein in the budget. And those items cannot come to the floor, because they are not sworn in yet.

I spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday, and she said, what if January 6th occurred and the lawmakers were not sworn in, and they could not count the votes for the presidential election because the speaker was not sworn in?

And she said thank god that the Democrats were in charge, because she said that the Republicans are not showing themselves to be good at governing yet.

It is three days and more time ahead, and the political season can be long, Erin, but there's a lot that is not happening on the House floor right now.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely.

Thank you very much, Lauren Fox.

David, just to be clear here so that people understand, you are seeing round after round, because without a speaker, there's nothing else they can do except for vote on a speaker.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. This is the first vote a Congress has to cast before they can organize themselves.


And there's no other business before the House until they elect a speaker so that they can then organize themselves. And so that everything is held in abeyance to this fight.

This was a curiosity to people at the beginning. But as time goes on, there will be outrage about all of this.

And that is also going to put pressure. But the pressure is going to be falling on those who care about governing and not those who are very much in the kneelist group.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This raises the question, kind of bringing us back to how broken our democracy is. Because we are now at the place of the impasse where -- we are talking about whether or not people can be shamed. It is not about shame. We know that shame is gone.

But accountability. Who is Matt Gaetz think that he is accountable to? The people who follow him on Twitter or Instagram?

So again, when you think about maybe that we are able to get move 10, but you will have another 10 that seem to be immovable. David Urban says to lock them in the room, and don't let them until --



But that seems to be where we are headed.


AXELROD: That what Matt Gaetz is saying.

FINNEY: But again, because it is not whether you can shame them into getting something done, but it is about whether or not there's anything? That you can give them that they actually want.

And the last point is, too, at the end of the day, don't lose sight of how weak of a speaker Kevin McCarthy or whomever takes this deal, and why would you want this job is going to be in an ungovernable caucus.

BURNETT: Scott, as we are watching and anyone is watching at the moment by moment is talking to who is watching, and you were talking about Thomas Massie.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, my congressman from the Kentucky 4th district, woo, Tom Cohen, according to Max Cohen who is a reporter for "Punch Bowl," was just seen going into Tom Emmer's office where the pro- and anti-McCarthy members are having their meeting, their negotiations.

Now Massie is an interesting guy. He often stands along. He's often - if you see a vote and it's like 430 to one, Massie is often the one.


JENNINGS: And he has an interesting history. He won a primary despite Donald Trump's opposition to him. He's been outspoken on a number of issues. He's kind of Libertarian.

But there was some floated ideas this morning as part of a deal that he might be somebody that winds up on the Rules Committee as part of the overall package that would satisfy some of the House conservative.

The fact that he is in there, A, and, B, the fact that he has stuck with McCarthy all of the time tells me something interesting about the role that he might be playing, at least with the Roy faction together.

BURNETT: So let me add something to this here as this reporting is coming out.

David, in Emmer's office, talking about Congressman Massie and Congressman Perry also getting involved in these conversations.

And he has just, as he goes back to emmer's office, said, quote, "We are not really even talking and it yet."



BURNETT: Sorry to pour some wet --


URBAN During the break, during the break, I'll try to --


BURNETT: Sorry to mix the metaphors, but there's the wet blanket.

URBAN: I have to go back to Scott's crab bucket thing there.


URBAN: -- with the metaphor.

Look, here's the one thing that I'm encouraged by if you're a McCarthy fan and you support McCarthy. There's no other negotiations going on anywhere else. There are no other room that people are going in and saying we're talking, we're cutting a deal or here.

It's Kevin McCarthy or bust.

People were talking about Kevin and negotiating about Kevin. How do we get there?

There's no side negotiations going on. Matt Gaetz is sitting on the floor. Lauren Boebert is sitting on the floor. The serious people, like - again, I don't know who else is part of the group.

But you have Scott Perry in and out. You have Chip Roy in and out. You have Massie in and out. You have the people who seemingly want to get to a deal, right, going in and negotiating.

I think that's going to end up making Kevin McCarthy the speaker at some point. It may not be today. Maybe tomorrow. I think -- I have heard nothing, haven't seen anything.

There's nobody else being talked about. Even the 20, they are not meeting in another room, saying here's our plan --


BURNETT: How do even tell, like who could be a serious candidate? Just a quick final point. Because Jim Jordan, when they nominated him, he was vehement that he would not take it.

Kevin Hern, a source close to Kevin Hern is telling Lauren Fox that he is not opposed to being the speaker. He won't turn on Kevin McCarthy. But if he fails, he is not opposed to running --


URBAN: He is 200 votes short.


JENNINGS: That is the thing, there's a lot of people who would not be opposed to winning the lottery.

But the reality is that there's a bloc of people who like Kevin McCarthy and are not just willing - they will not entertain the idea of some random person becoming the speaker and essentially handing this minority group the victory.

BURNETT: All right, pause there.

The Republican hardliners are saying no to Kevin McCarthy. So we are on ballot number eight.


As you were explaining, and you will keep seeing when they are in session, because they can't do anything else other than work to nominate a speaker. They have nothing else they're able to do right now.

So who are the people who are refusing to vote yes, or refusing to move this forward? We'll have more of CNN's special live coverage coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live special coverage. Eight -- count them, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight -- public humiliations for Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, courtesy of the Republican rebels in his own caucus.


This is the unchanging face of the opposition, 20 members of Congress who have repeatedly said no to making McCarthy the leader of the new Republican majority in the House, putting him a few heartbeats away from the presidency.

Let's get over to John King, who has agreed to take a stroll over at the Magic Wall to tell us who these 20 men and women are.

KING: Jake, we see them on the floor casting their votes. And let's map out and show where they come from. And why they might think this might hurt them politically back home, that it's safe for them to defy.

To set the table, there are 222 House Republicans. That's a net gain of 10 from the election that was just shy of 60 days ago. Democrats' 213 here. And the number is 212 because one Democrat passed away after the election. Democrats are down to 212. This is the verdict on election day.

You mentioned who are these holdouts? Let' take a look. 21 if you count Congresswoman Spartz of Indiana, who has voted present. She says Kevin McCarthy needs to close the deal. That's her form of protest.

These others have voted for other candidates. And as you can see geographically, it's a diverse mix. They're Republicans from all across the country.

Here's another way to look at it. This is their win margin. If it's deep red, that means they won comfortably. If it's more of a pink, that means they were relatively close races.

Lauren Boebert stands out among the holdouts in that when she won re- election, Jake, earlier this month, she just won re-election, 546 votes. She is taking the biggest political risk here, you could argue. The voters back in her district just sent her back to Congress.

Is he taking a risk? Does she care? That's the question for Congresswoman Boebert.

You come back up and look at the rest of the map. Most of these Republicans won big.

Let's come down to Oklahoma. You have Congressman-Elect here Josh Firsch, and 72.4 percent of the vote.

Yes, the country might not like what's happening, the chaos on the floor. He thinks he can go home. He got 72 percent of the vote. He thinks he is safe.

Let's move around the country a little bit more. Scott Perry of the Freedom Caucus is one of those who is in a bit of a nippy district, a safe, but not blowout Republican district.

He got 54 percent of the vote in the election 60 days ago. Is this a risk? He has decided it's worth taking. More of a marginal district but still a solid Republican district, just not by a blowout margin.

You come down to Maryland and you see Andy Harris. Again 55, 54 percent if you want to round that out in the election there. This is a solid Republican district. Not a 60 percent or 70 percent district, but Andy Harris thinks he can be anti-establishment, anti-leader, anti-institution, chose caucus. Pick the term you like there. And that is what is interesting. If you look at the map and you pull it out, most of these are safe Republicans. Yes, they're defying their leadership, and they may be embarrassing their party. They may be embarrassing the institution. They might be ignoring the national will of the American people, Jake.

But when they look at the districts back home -- and we'll go to Illinois. Remember we had Congressman Davis on. Former Congressman Davis. He was beaten in the primary by Mary Miller. She had Donald Trump's endorsement.

She had 71 percent of the vote in that district. She is sticking it to the leader, yes. She thinks people back home will support her.

This one, one more quick way to look at this. Here's the 21 of them here. If you look at the 21 of them, 16 of them received Donald Trump's endorsement back in their primary.

So they got here, in part, thanks to Donald Trump. Donald Trump wants him to vote Kevin McCarthy, but, even to Doanld Trump, they say, no.

TAPPER: Right. That's a good argument.

I have to say I am not yet convinced that Donald Trump is actually firmly fully throwing his weight behind Kevin McCarthy.

We saw a statement on Truth Social yesterday.

Kaitlan, you reported that he made some phone calls Monday.

I mean, he has shown more passion going after the cast of "Hamilton" than he does about these rebels.

COLLINS: Ruby Freeman, the election worker in Georgia, he has gone after her more than he has anyone else this week.

TAPPER: Putting himself in potential legal liability, by the way, which we'll cover when we get back to covering normal things.

COLLINS: Right. Whenever this is --


TAPPER: He no longer has the protection of the presidency is all I'm saying because he's back slandering and libeling this woman.

COLLINS: He is 100 percent not out there, you know, making these calls, trying to win votes.

He has not been making these aggressive calls in recent days trying to get people to switch their votes.

I think one thing that acknowledges those, they are not scared of him anymore in the sense that they need to do what he says.

TAPPER: Or they don't believe it. They don't think he actually cares. COLLINS: Trump has a very complicated relationship with Kevin

McCarthy. He has not always been thrilled with him.

I was talking to people who were talking to Trump on Monday night and Trump was saying, well, you know, Kevin did back some of their primary opponents.

Kind of saying there's a reason for some of these people to be so frustrated with Kevin McCarthy and not want to support him.

So I think that's part of this as well, is that Trump has waffled on this. Remember when someone said he endorsed Kevin McCarthy and he said, I didn't. He did put out a statement in mid-December saying he deserved a shot.


But I think that speaks to a layer. It's a sign of how Trump doesn't have a ton of influence on this, but Trump's not really in working on this.

TAPPER: Right. That's what I'm saying.

BASH: I want to add one thing to that. I spoke to someone who talked to the former president. And I asked the question, why isn't he pushing hard enough? The answer was, deep down, he understands he doesn't have the juice that he once had.


COLLINS: More on display.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: That Trump doesn't have the juice?

BASH: That Trump himself understands that he doesn't have the juice. That would be a moment of self-reflection and awareness that we haven't seen.

TAPPER: Yes, that would be interesting.

BASH: So far.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: He's not the president of the United States of America anymore.

The dynamics that everybody learned in the House were when largely he was serving as president, and when he said stuff, they had to react to it or, you know, things were going to do down, and the reality has changed.

TAPPER: I need to throw it to Erin now.

Erin, here's a little gruel for you. I mentioned the longest this process ever took in American history was in 1856. It took 133 ballots, and it lasted two months.

How did they get out of it? They changed to plurality rules. You no longer had to win a majority. It was just whoever got the most votes, which is something we've heard some Republicans talking about.

BURNETT: Which would be amazing, but can we just not have it take 133 rounds, Jake? I'm doing the math of what that means.


TAPPER: I agree.

BURNETT: But it is, you know, obviously the -- where we are, it's simply an amazing moment, and not in a good way.

Let's go now to the Republican Representative Chris Stewart of Utah.

Congressman, you hear Jake talking about that, right? When you look at the history here, 133 rounds, and then he ended up changing the rules.

So can I just ask you how you feel about where we are right now, on round eight?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT): So I don't think we're going to go 133 rounds, and I don't think it's going to take, you know, two-plus months to do this.

I think this will be settled in the next few days. And I think we need to make movement with people in private conversations that are taking place.

I'm not predicting it's going to be -- you know, we're not going to have a speaker by tend of today, but I don't think it's going to be much longer and certainly it'll be the most votes for the speaker of the House.

BURNETT: To be clear, you have supported McCarthy through thick and thin. You have been clear about that. You said you have no second choice.

But let me just follow up on something you said there, Congressman. You said there has been some movement from some people. Can you just elaborate a little bit more on that?

Obviously what we see when the votes come is this group of 20 who have different interests and certainly are not all the same, but we haven't seen a movement at all when it comes to the vote count.

STEWART: Yes, and I'm not surprised by that. In fact, I would have been surprised, on this last round, had you seen movement on that. And the reason being is that there are still conversations taking place.

Kevin indicated that earlier today. He said himself, I don't think you're going to see much change in the vote count through today, but that doesn't mean that those lines are solid. It doesn't mean that there aren't conversations taking place. Nor does it mean that I don't think there's movement because I do

believe that there is.

I think Kevin McCarthy is going to be the speaker of the House. I think we'll get to that point in fairly short order.

I hate to predict because, oh, my gosh, it's very difficult under the circumstances. But I certainly don't think it's going to be weeks. I think it's probably a matter of a few days, and we'll get to what we're anxious to do.

BURNETT: Anybody watching, I would hope, no matter what political persuasion, hopes you're right, and in fairly short order there will be answer here.

But to that point, when you talk about discussions behind closed doors, Congressman Perry just was headed back into Mr. Emmer's office, and when asked if he could get to a deal today -- and the question was about today, Congressman Stewart -- but his answer was, we're not even really talking about a deal.


BURNETT: That doesn't seem to fit with what you are saying or am I missing something?

STEWART: Well, I think that might have been his characterization of that moment. And it might have been his personal -- his personal position as well.

But remember, Scott, who is a friend of mine, he and I came to Congress together. And he's someone I have great respect for.

Scott can't speak for the other 20 members. He can't speak for all of them. And as you indicated, some of them do have different positions and different goals. Some of them are very principled, by the way.

There are some others -- and I haven't hesitated to challenge them on this.


If you go into Leader McCarthy's office and say, hey, I'll vote for you if you put me on this exclusive committee or if you put my friends on these committees, or anything self-interested. That's not about our country. That's not about our party,