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CNN Live Event/Special

McCarthy Appears To Lose On 13th Ballot After Flipping Holdouts; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) Discusses Speakership Vote; Biden Honors Heroes 2 Years After Insurrection. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 06, 2023 - 14:30   ET



DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The ability to kind of tamp down things when they get out of hand, to put together the votes when you need to put them together and so on.

And so the question is, did he just give the keys to the asylum to the inmates here in order to become speaker of the House? I think that's what we're going to -- that's what we're going to find out.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: On this oversight business, you called some of it performative. Are you saying that some of the Democratic oversight of Trump wasn't purely performative?

There's a measure of performance in all of this. I think you're going to be surprised by the chairman of the Oversight Committee who we heard from earlier, Comer. He's a measured guy and knows what's important and what's not.

Yes. There are individual members who are going to go off the reservation from time to time. But I'm telling you guys -- Karen, I think you raise a fair point about January 6th.

It needed to be investigated but there's a range of stuff that needs to be investigated. The border, Afghanistan, as David said, inflation. There are COVID questions.

And there are reasonable people who voted Democrat and Republican in this country that would agree, sure, Congress should look into this.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: don't disagree that oversight is critically important.

But again, I think what we have seen unfolding over the last three, four days, and over the last 13 votes, is that you have a very destructive -- I don't want to call them rebels, because that suggests there's righteousness to their cause, which I disagree with.

That there's a destructive nature that is going to put a level of pressure on any reasonable, responsible Republican who may actually try, I will grant you that, to do reasonable, thoughtful investigations.

That is part of -- we talked yesterday about hostage taking. That's part of what we've seen unfolding over the last few days.

AXELROD: You mentioned the Benghazi hearings. One of the reasons Kevin McCarthy didn't become speaker in 2015 was because he acknowledged publicly what should have been -- what should have stayed in his bubble box, which is that the purpose of the hearing was to try to damage Hillary Clinton. And he said that we succeeded in doing that.

That's what people don't want. That's what people suspect.

People want legitimate oversight, and there may be partisans in both parties who see it as an opportunity to damage the incumbent.

But the danger here is that the people who are the most strident voices really do see it as an opportunity to damage the incumbent, are now running the show.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Let's listen to see if Anna Paulina Luna stays for McCarthy that is coming up.




Luna? Luna?



COOPER: All right. She had changed over in the last vote, so she has stuck with McCarthy.

They're not losing anybody and they've gained Harris.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What you pointed out, David. And this is something that right has to contend with, as much as the left, but it is an asymmetric problem on the right, is McCarthy has demonstrated he is not good at curtailing the extremes in his own conference.

And that is -- that is the problem, is that he has a conference. If he had won by wider margins he would have more leverage to be able to wield the power to be able to frankly isolate the extremes within the party.

JENNINGS: We sat here on election night and said that. 222. It's going to be a tough vote for him.


JENNINGS: Here it is. This is the elections have consequences.

HOOVER: He needs George Santos' vote in order to get to become speaker of the House. He is dealing with an untenable and unwielding conference what is

going to make it harder. You friend Comer may run oversight but he still has Marjorie Taylor Greene on his committee. Maybe he's better at than Kevin McCarthy at trying to tamp down on her ability to steal --

JENNINGS: The attention on him is going to be great because, you know, legislatively, I don't know here, they're going to have to walk and chew gum at the same time, but the demand in the Republican Party, the immediate action demand, is oversight.

That's what people want to see because they believe I think correctly nothing that's happened for the past two years has had any oversight whatsoever.

You're right, January 6th did, but there's been nothing. We have problems all around that need to be looked into.

So Comer is ready for it. He's going to be one of the most important and famous Republicans in the country because of the demand on him to get this moving as soon as they clear McCarthy.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don't forget the math in the Senate. We're still -- nowhere close to being able to pass a bill in the House. It's going to passes in the Senate.

In terms of performative actions and performative art and things, this is going to be a Congress that's full of messaging. Hopefully not too far to the extreme to cost Republicans seats in '24.

COOPER: Let's listen in for Mary Miller and see if she doesn't change her vote again.


Miller of Illinois?



COOPER: McCarthy.


Miller of Ohio?




McCarthy. She stayed there.

Next up the question is Rosendale, one of the holdouts we've yet to hear from him. We'll dip back in.

JENNINGS: Yes. Rosendale is key because of the Senate race implication.


JENNINGS: There are a number of Republicans in this chamber who may be running for the Senate in 2024. And so - Spartz from Indiana I think maybe was looking into the Senate race over there.

So some of the votes here, not just today, but how they act in this majority in the next two years, some of that will be performative for the look ahead towards a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

URBAN: Basically, when you have two members, you have Zinke and -


JENNINGS: Yes. That's one's really fascinating.


JENNINGS: That's why Montana is --


AXELROD: Your point on oversight is right. Zinke is back with -- when he was secretary of the Interior and had to leave in a scandal.

COOPER: Let's go back to Jake Tapper.

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

I'm joined now by Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, from the great city of Philadelphia.

Congressman, good to see you.

Big day for the McCarthy team. Fifteen flips so far I believe, is that right? Fifteen individuals who had not been voting for Kevin McCarthy now voting for Kevin McCarthy. You're still a few votes short.

First, a matter of math. Does McCarthy need 216 votes or 217 votes to win? My understanding is with Democratic Congressman David Trone having come back to the House after his medical procedure this morning it might be 217?

REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): Yes. So just view it as a fraction, so for every two numbers that come off the denominator, 435, one comes off the numerator of 218.

If 434 voting, that's how many we have here, the number is still 218. If that goes down by one it goes to 217, drops another two, through present votes or absences, goes to 216.

Keep in mind, we have two members on the Republican side that we're missing this morning on their way back now.

TAPPER: They're on their way back now?


TAPPER: OK. It's kind of up in the air whether you need 216 or 217. How are you going to flip the remaining six?

You just got Congressman Andy Harris from Maryland to switch his vote. You've got an lot of rebels to switch their votes.

You still have some of the holdouts. Biggs, Boebert, Crane, Gaetz, Good, and Rosendale.

What is going on to get any of them -- I think you need at least two of them -- to flip?

FITZPATRICK: Yes. We're -- a handful to vote present because that would lower the number.

But I think really one of the reasons we need to adjourn, it doesn't make sense to do round after round when the votes aren't there yet.

We need to adjourn and we need to sit down with all of these people and try to identify what their policy concerns are, the rules change concerns are, and see if they can get there or not.

TAPPER: Are you going to get there?

FITZPATRICK: That remains up in the air. I think we will. I think it will happen. I don't know if it's going to happen today. I think we need to adjourn and I think there's got to be at least conversations that occur overnight and into tomorrow at the very least.

TAPPER: Congressman, thank you so much. I know you have a lot of work to do.


TAPPER: A somber split screen today. We're going to go right now to show what's going on, on the floor.

And then, of course, on the other side, on your right of the screen, chaos is going on. And then that is handcuffing, that chaos handcuffing Republicans spurting towards maybe or maybe not electing a House speaker.

On the left side of your screen, this is a moment marking the anniversary of a day that threatened to end the American experiment in many ways.

President Biden is paying tribute to those who put their lives on the line as the mob invaded the U.S. capitol and honoring individuals who did everything they could to maintain the integrity of the election.

President Biden is going to be speaking shortly and we will bring that to you live when that happens.

We should note, Kasie, I mean, we're seeing some of the individuals that Biden is going to give medals to. A number of them really did some very difficult things that day. Lost their jobs ultimately, many of them ultimately were injured.

Obviously, people who are not there lost their lives on that anniversary day.

You see officer Michael Fanone there. You see some Republican officials who stood up for the integrity of the election system on the left side there.


KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, you sure do. There are also a couple of people being honored posthumously, including Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the wake of the events of the day.

And, you know, I think this day carries pretty remarkable weight for those of us who, you know, I was at the capitol that day. Obviously, members of Congress, who were doing trying to do their duty. That duty was attacked. The Capitol Police officers were directly attacked themselves.

There's Biden Walking in.

And to have --

TAPPER: Let's listen in.

HUNT: Let's listen in.



Two years ago, on January 6th, our democracy was attacked, no other way of saying it. The U.S. capitol was breached, which has never happened before in the history of the United States of America, even during the Civil War.

A violent mob of insurrectionists assaulted law enforcement, vandalized sacred halls, hunted down elected officials, all for the purpose of an attempt to overthrow the will of the people and usurp the peaceful transfer of power.

All of it, all of it, was fueled by lies about the 2020 election.

But on this day two years ago, our democracy held because we the people, as the Constitution refers to us, we the people, did not flinch. We the people endured. We the people prevailed.

And on this day of remembrance, I'm joined by the vice president and the second gentleman and all of you, we honor a remarkable group of Americans who embodied the best before, during, and after January the 6th, 2021.

For the first time in my presidency, I am bestowing the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of our nation's highest civilian honors, and recognizes, quote, "citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens," end of quote.

In a few moments, the full citation of their exemplary deeds will be read by a military aide.

This is who these people, these extraordinary Americans, are. Heroic law enforcement officers. As Congressman Bennie Thompson, a man of eminence character, eloquently said about these officers, he said, quote, "You held the line that day, and what was on the line was our democracy, and history will remember your names."

History will remember your names. It will remember your courage. It will remember your bravery. It will remember your extraordinary commitments to your fellow Americans. It's not hyperbole. That's a fact. That's a fact.

Folks, history is also going to remember your instincts to respond, to do something, as you did.

As we all watched, this is the irony above all, all of America watched it. Watched it on television and saw it repeated and repeated.

In the past months, we've heard you testify to the nation about what happened that day, what you were thinking of at the time it was happening, what you're thinking now, the threats, the violence, the savageness of what happened, the trauma. All real.

It's not exaggeration to say, America owes you, owes you all. I really mean that. Debt, a debt of gratitude. One we can never fully repay unless we live up to what you did. Live up to what you did.

What you did was truly consequential. Not a joke. If I can halt for a second and just say to you, the impact of what happened on January 6th had international repercussions beyond what any of you can fully understand.

The first meeting I had of what they called the G-7, the seven leading economies in the world, democracies, I sat down -- it was in February, it was in England -- I sat next to the president of France, across from the chancellor from Germany, et cetera.

And I said, America's back. You know what the response was? Not a joke. For how long? For how long?


And I just sat there and I just sat there and looked, and I believe it was the prime minister of Italy who said -- I can't remember for certain which of the seven said it.

What would you think, Mr. President, if tomorrow you woke up and you have a headline in the press saying that in the British parliament a mob had come down the hall, broken down the doors of the House of Commons, police officers were killed or died, the place was vandalized, in order to overthrow the election of the speaker of the House? In a prime minister's election. In a prime minister's election.

Think about it. Think about it. What would we think if we heard that news today, if any of the leading democracies of the world wept through this?

So folks, these people and people representing those who couldn't be here because they gave their lives for this, did was incredibly consequential. That's not political talk. That's historical fact.

Officer Daniel Hodges, Virginia National Guardsman, eight years, eight years on the beat. His first time inside the capitol was on January 6th. Sprayed with poison, pinned and crushed, eye almost gouged out. But he didn't break.

After it was over he was asked what he had been fighting for? This is a local guy, an ordinary American. He gave a simple, straightforward answer. What were you fighting for? His spontaneous answer was democracy. That's what he knew he was fighting for.

He wasn't a scholar. He wasn't a historian. He was a red-blooded American fighting for democracy. T

he former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, I've come to know him more. Twenty years on the job, veterans narcotics investigator. At a moment of crisis, he was asked to do undercover work elsewhere, but he answered the crisis call of our nation at the capitol.

You answered, Michael. You always did.

He was beaten, beaten, not pushed around, beaten, and he was tased. He was called a traitor as the mob shouted, if you remember, kill him, with his own gun. Kill him with his own gun.

But he defended our democracy, with absolute courage. Ever since, he's spoken out forcefully to make sure people are held accountable because he knows it could happen again.

There's no guarantees. Except us. All of you.

Private First-Class Harry Dunn from the United States Capitol Police, 14 years on the force. On that day, he was outside Speaker Pelosi's office. He stood guard protecting fellow officers who were already injured. He was fighting back insurrectionists across the capitol while being called the vilest, racist names.

His own Congressman, a true constitutional scholar, Jamie Raskin, couldn't be here today as he recovers from cancer treatments.

But he called and want me to say the following -- I wrote it down: "Officer Harry Dunn acted with remarkable courage and valor to defend both our institutions and our people." He went on to say, "Generations to come will think of him and these

officers and thank them for their service," end of quote.

Officer Carol Edwards, five years on the force, U.S. Capitol Police. On the front lines of the mob's first surge, she stood there and she said -- I hope I'm correctly quoting you -- said, "It looked like a movie."

Looked like a movie. Sometimes, in crisis, things look surreal. Looked like a movie.

Knocked unconscious with traumatic brain injury. She got back up to help hold the line. The granddaughter of two proud military veterans, she says, it was her job to, quote, "protect America's symbol of democracy," end quote. That building.


(INAUDIBLE). Excuse me. (INAUDIBLE). Thank you, pal. I'm glad to know your name.



BIDEN: You can call me President Bidden from now on if you want.


BIDEN: A proud immigrant from the Dominican Republic, 16 years in the force. Like my son, an Iraqi war veteran with the United States military, the United States Army, who described January 6th as something from a meaty, evil battle.

Trying to keep insurrectionists from entering the tunnel entrance on the lower west terrace as he got punched, blinded with a laser, speared with an American flagpole with an American flag on it. The flag he swore to defend.

He stood tall in the breach. But the deep and abiding love demonstrated for his country.

Officer Eugene Goodman, an Army veteran who put himself at risk as a rightful squad leader conducting combat patrols to identify explosives in Baghdad. He came home. He came home to guard the U.S. capitol for the last 15 years.

On January 6th, he risked his own safety to distract the charging group of insurrectionists. He said his duty is to serve or protect. He said, that day, he was protecting, and he did. He protected.

All of you, I know this honor is bittersweet. On that day, more than 140 law enforcement officials suffered physical injuries, and untold numbers from psychological toll of that day as well. PTSD doesn't only occur in the military from the battlefield. Others gone forever. I said earlier if I can hold a minute here -- I said earlier, you

know, for those who lost someone on that day, we're proud as a devil that their kin are being honored, but, boy, is it hard.

I know how proud I am when my son Beau was honored on the anniversary of his death in the burn pits in Iraq, but it brings everything back like it happened that moment.

To all the families, all the families who have lost someone, my heart aches for you. I want to thank you for having the courage to be here today so the rest of America can know what your kin did.

Including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who will be receiving this medal posthumously. A veteran of the New Jersey Air National Guard, 13 years on the Capitol Police force as an officer. He lost his life after protecting the citadel of democracy.

We're joined by his family today whom my wife, Jill, and I met when we paid our respects in the capitol rotunda two years ago.

I know you're proud of the honor being bestowed on Brian, but I also know this difficult moment brings back everything as if it happened this very day.

Thank you for being here. And thank you for letting us remember Brian. Thank you.

Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood is receiving this medal posthumously. Howard's dad was a good friend of mine. I served with his dad.

His dad was sergeant-at-arms in the United States Senate chief of staff for Republican Senators. We were genuinely friends.

Officer Liebengood patrolled the grounds outside the Senate office building on January 6th. He worked nearly nonstop over the days that followed.

He lost his life after protecting the democratic institutions. He learned to revere it growing up.


His family, his widow, Serena, is here today. She is honoring Howard's memory by advocating for, quote, "positive change on mental health issues for his fellow officers and other reforms. Help them cope with the crises they encounter."

Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith will be receiving this medal posthumously as well.

He was part of the first line of officers who entered when the capitol was breached. Assaulted many times. The last time with a metal pipe.

After his death, his widow, along with Aaron -- his widow, Erin, along with many others, worked tirelessly to pay -- to pass in the Congress the Public Safety Officer Support Act, which I signed into law last summer.

The law recognizes death by silent injury like officer Smith's and Officer Liebengood, so future families of officers who die in the wake of circumstances will get the benefits they deserve. It's long overdue.

Today is a ceremony to honor the heroes of January 6th.

We also recognize late U.S. Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans. His family is with us today.

Three months after January 6th, while we were still cordoning off the capitol because threats by these sick insurrectionists continued to be propagated on Internet - again, all of America saw what happened.

But Officer Evans was killed defending the checkpoint they had to go through to get up to the capitol because of these god-awful, sick threats that continued to move forward.

And the whole world saw it. It's just hard to believe. It's hard to believe it could happen here in America.

When I was a 29-year-old kid and got elected to the Senate and came down here to be sworn in after I was 30, the idea that if you told me --


BIDEN: -- that I could hear my own voice.


BIDEN: I would be amazed.


BIDEN: But all kidding aside, think about it. Think about this. I also met the family at the rotunda to pay our respects.

And I was honored to sign a law, a bill, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to those who protected the capitol on January 6th, to honor Officers Sicknick, Evans, Liebengood, Smith for their sacrifices. These officers are the best among us.

We're also honored to be joined by many other members of the various law enforcement agencies here today. And were here and that January 6th. Ad we thank all of them as well.

I want to thank you all for your service your strength, your courage. And it's a corny thing to say, but your patriotism.

Joining these law enforcement honorees are five other public servant, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss.

Where are you guys? Right in the middle.


BIDEN: This were election workers from Atlanta, Georgia.

Ruby, who for years has taken time away from running her own business, to work an election season to honor voting rights and heritage in her beloved city.

Her daughter, Shaye, who learned from his grandma how older generations of her family fought so hard to even get the right to vote, so Shaye decided to become a full-time election worker to help the elderly, the disabled, the students exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Both of them were just doing their jobs until they were targeted and threatened by the same predators and peddlers of lies that would fuel the insurrection.

They were literally forced from their homes, facing despicable, racist taunts.


But despite it all, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss found the courage to testify openly and honestly in front of the whole country and the world about their experiences, set the record straight about the lies, and defend the integrity of to our elections.

Ruby and Shaye, you don't deserve what happened to you.