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CNN Live Event/Special
Kevin McCarthy Appears On Track To Win Speakership On 15th Vote. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired January 07, 2023 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Race, you know, Scott Perry, who is deeply -- his messages are being subpoenaed. You know, earlier we had Paul Gosar, who's spoken before white supremacist conferences. I mean, the people who are driving this train right now, these are not the folks that the Republican Party wants at the forefront.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: We better be prepared to be here, I mean, and right now the debt ceiling is on track to be hit in August. Usually that pushes a little bit probably into the fall. I mean, we should all be prepared to be back here doing this exact same thing when that happens because, especially considering some of the things that McCarthy clearly gave away, I mean in the past they've been able to do it with Democratic help, and, you know, McCarthy in theory could obviously do that. But it seems like what they've tried to hold his feet to fire here and say, like, no, I mean, what Kevin McCarthy can decide to do is not put it on the floor.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, without getting into the specifics of all the ugly fights that are going to come, I think the point that you just made and others have made is that this is writ large a vision of what we're going to see, possibly, going forward for the next two years in a very chaotic Congress.
HUNT: And it has huge consequences.
TAPPER: Huge consequences for the nation, but, as we just settle on this moment, we are watching the history being made because I believe on this 15th ballot Kevin McCarthy will finally secure enough votes, whether it's through people voting present or people switching their votes to him to actually become the speaker of the House of Representatives.
On the 15th ballot there have been other votes that have gone to more ballots, but those were all before the civil war. All of them in the 1800s. It has not happened been this ugly since the 1800s. And it's interesting -- obviously I don't think that we are now in a period like the civil war or the years leading up to the civil war, but we are in an ugly period of politics, and I think that is one of the things being reflected in this ugly vote.
PHILLIP: We're a divided -- a deeply divided country. I mean, just two years ago we had an insurrection at the Capitol. I mean, I think a lot of people would have thought that was probably as close as you would get to the kind of civil war-type scene. By the way, the Capitol was not even breached during the civil war. And here we are. I mean, it's not a surprise to me that this is what's happening on the Republican side.
TAPPER: Matt Gaetz is coming up in a few votes. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy. Frost. Jefferies. Fry. McCarthy.
TAPPER: Two more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fulcher. McCarthy.
TAPPER: Here it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gaetz. Present.
TAPPER: Present. So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gallagher. McCarthy.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Gaetz vote actually doesn't change anything in the sense that it only took three as long as everybody else votes for a candidate by name. The margin is now 216, which is what Kevin McCarthy got on the last vote.
TAPPER: Right. And it is interesting when we saw Gaetz and McCarthy speaking, when McCarthy's frown turned upside down and then he ran and tried to stop the motion to adjourn, what exactly did Gaetz say? Did he say we can deliver another vote of present, we can deliver two more votes of present, I don't know. But it was conveyed to Kevin McCarthy, we can actually give you your margin of victory one way or another in this next vote.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: You saw that rare flash of anger from Kevin McCarthy. And then, of course, now he's back to his smiling self. That was a rare moment. And that is still the big question is what that miscommunication was earlier that led to that incredible moment that we saw playing out on the floor.
HUNT: Was it miscommunication?
COLLINS: Well, miscommunication I guess is --
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Misled.
COLLINS: Well, we don't know. I think there's a real question about who's to vote present or what --
KING: His team is blaming Rosendale.
PHILLIP: -- that it was Matt Rosendale.
COLLINS: But, well, and Eli Crane, though, even switching his vote now and Andy Biggs now both switching their votes. I mean, it raises so many questions about what those conversations were.
BASH: Yes, you're right.
COLLINS: Jake noted we cannot read lips.
TAPPER: But we should just say also -- Bob Good voted present, so that means that he's getting a sweep of the present votes.
BASH: Waiting for Rosendale.
TAPPER: So, yes. I mean, we should note the Republican leaders who thought that Gaetz was going to switch to yay, which Amy Grayer and Melanie Zanona reported earlier, they were mistaken, but it's a point without a difference. It's a distinction without a difference really. What Gaetz conveyed was whatever is going to happen in the next ballot, you're going to win. Yes, we're going to deliver the votes one way or another, even if it's present votes.
HUNT: And there's our chyron, it's finally changed after 15 votes.
TAPPER: "McCarthy Appears on Track to Win Speakership."
HUNT: Appears on track to win instead of appears headed for failure for a 15th time.
TAPPER: But it is remarkable, five present votes. He sure could have used those yesterday.
BASH: But they all -- this is -- going into this, I think it was David Urban from New York was saying, and you were saying, that on the first go around of this evening, the 14th vote, the thought was maybe that the holdouts would hold hands and all vote present together to lower the threshold. That didn't happen. It's happening now.
HUNT: And it makes sense, too, I mean, for them to all at this point to jump together, especially because they are, in theory, going to have to work with the speaker of the House in Kevin McCarthy, who, you know, he may have given a lot away here in this negotiation with them, but at the end of the day, he still is going to wield more power as speaker than he's ever wielded in the conference before. And how he's going to figure out how to use it is going to be a real test.
PHILLIP: I hope it's worth it.
TAPPER: I also think it's interesting that a number of these individuals, including Matt Gaetz, have spent the last several months in earnest in the last week or two talking about how they can't trust Kevin McCarthy, and how he has not one whose word can be relied upon. And now they are relying upon deals that he's apparently made with a handshake, given that most of the promises made, we're told, were made that way, and not in the rules package that is going to come up for a vote after he wins the speakership which it certainly looks he's on track to do it.
BASH: I guess there's one lingering --
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There still seem to be some hard feelings. Melanie Zanona has some reporting that Tom Emmer was walking in the aisles telling people on the floor not to clap when Matt Gaetz or Lauren Boebert, when they announced their votes for present. When Biggs changed his vote to present, you heard applause. When --
GANGEL: I guess it was Good.
GANGEL: Crane. But they're not so happy.
TAPPER: Well, it's entirely possible that Matt Gaetz told them he was going to vote yes, and then realized that he didn't need to after Crane and Biggs had voted present that he puts -- and by the way, he is on record saying to somebody that he would rather be waterboarded by Liz Cheney than vote for Kevin McCarthy for speaker.
HUNT: Well, and you know, we've danced around this a little bit because, you know, I don't -- obviously no one wants to get over their skis for the reporting in terms of how people feel about Matt Gaetz and the Republican conference, but now we have it on video and in still photos, which is Mike Rogers literally lunging at the man, having to be physically restrained. And he is not the only one who I think feels that way about Matt Gaetz inside the Republican conference.
I mean, the view of the emotion on display right there is just kind of a remarkable snapshot. And I think really also, you know, this is not a conference that is driven by policy differences or disagreements. This is personal.
PHILLIP: Well, I mean, people have said it on our air that the perception of Matt Gaetz is that he spends more time on cable television talking and raising money than doing other things. I mean, that -- we don't have to -- it's -- people have said it publicly. And I think that the reality of all of this is that this has been a show for Matt Gaetz. He has wanted to prove a point. And yes, he's proved a point but at what cost.
GANGEL: To your point, Abby, about raising money, we see him all over the place, you know, being on TV. At 10:42:58 tonight he did a fundraising e-mail off of not voting for Kevin McCarthy.
KING: I think that's the fourth one today I think. I've gotten at least three, and I haven't looked. I bet -- the question is, at what cost because you mentioned the mistrust, distrust, it's actually a lot stronger than that, runs both ways.
TAPPER: Yes. KING: We've watched that play out on the floor. And, you know, Matt
Gaetz just changed his vote to present. It will allow Kevin McCarthy to be speaker. So maybe he'll get a mumbled thank you or something to that effect off the floor, but at any moment, the new rules, one member can move to vacate. And Matt Gaetz only needs the same group of people voting present, a handful of people, minus one can take us back off this cliff.
TAPPER: And this is, Erin Burnett, this is only what we can see playing out on the floor of the House before the government takes control of the C-SPAN cameras once again, which they sadly soon will do. The big question, of course, is the promises that Kevin McCarthy made. Who is he going to put on the Rules Committee? What are they going to do and what are they going to prevent from coming to the floor of the House? What chaos will be reeked?
And of course, as John pointed out, two years after the hideous attack on the Capitol, we have the images now of Donald Trump calling QAnon supporter, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and rallying various conspiracy theorists to flip their vote one way or the other so Kevin McCarthy can be elected speaker.
He's not doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He's not doing this because he cares about Republican unity.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: No.
TAPPER: He's doing this for some other reasons that we will learn later, Erin.
BURNETT: Absolutely. And I will say, just watching this happen, this was amazing. You have all of a sudden this sort of rush by McCarthy and Gaetz down. And all of a sudden the votes change, and we're not going to adjourn, and we're going to stay. So then we all know something is going to happen. And then you start seeing it, you know, Biggs flips and Crane flips, and Gaetz does not go to McCarthy but flips to present. So you get these -- and then you had it after Elijah Crane. But --
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Some of these pictures we're looking at, right, the AP photos of, you know, Rogers being physically restrained, the photo of Marjorie Taylor Greene with Donald Trump on the phone and Rosendale waving it off, like I don't want to --
BURNETT: Talk to the hand. The hand is up in the air, you know, like.
URBAN: I mean, this stuff is -- if you wrote a script like this, people would not believe it, right? It's advice and consent meets like reality television, I don't know.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I don't know that -- I mean, yes, admittedly, this was one of the better nights of C-SPAN that we've seen, but you know, if this were a trailer for the new Republican majority, I don't want to see the film, OK? This was unthinkable and embarrassing, and a failure of leadership and, you know, an example of treachery. And yes, the stars of it were the people who are most closely associated with the events of last January 6th.
AXELROD: And so there's nothing about this that should make people feel good. Kevin McCarthy, obviously, feels good because he's realized his lifelong ambition. But at what cost?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, you will see the film, and it's going to be called "Knives Out." And we will be subjected to it for the next two years. Look, Kevin McCarthy, this is a moment of high drama. I mean, the fact that he ran up to stop the adjournment.
BURNETT: I mean, that's just --
AVLON: That's an amazing thing.
BURNETT: Just in that moment, to be able to witness the high drama, and it's no small thing, as Jake points out, that the camera control is going to be lost. Right? The government -- but we got to see this, as ugly as it is, we got to see it.
AVLON: We did. And that's --
BURNETT: Human emotion.
AVLON: Politics is history in the present tense and perhaps never as much as tonight in terms of seeing the drama and the arm twisting.
AXELROD: Yes, with emphasis on tense.
AVLON: But yes, exactly. But, look, you know, Kevin McCarthy also has proven that you can indeed win by losing. You know, 15 votes in. This may be the high moment. Because, again, you know, careful what you wish for. You're speaker now but this is an indication of how difficult it's going to be to govern. We don't know what he gave to Matt Gaetz to switch that vote again. We haven't seen the list of all the concessions, but we know that the nation already won, that you can predict is that the nation is on a collision course with the debt ceiling. I mean, a lot of basic things are going to be difficult to get done in anything resembling a bipartisan fashion.
URBAN: Well, it can also be, John, now in the caucus, right. Are people going to trust each other in the Republican caucus, right? If somebody said, I gave you my word, that used to mean something, right? After tonight I question. Rosendale, who could ever trust Rosendale? He's planning on running for the Senate in Montana? If I was his opponent, I'd say the guy's a liar. We've watched him lie.
BURNETT: Rosendale is of course the one who -- we understood has agreed to vote present and voted for Biggs in that crucial round.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You raised the issue of trust and camaraderie inside of a conference, it's dawned on me this week that, yes, all these people are Republicans, but some of these people essentially have declared themselves to be a third party. They don't really want to be part of the larger Republican Party. They want to operate as independent operators who can create chaos for the Republicans or maybe the Democrats whenever they see fit.
Now McCarthy's in a coalition with them right now, but to your point, John, the rules may allow them to blow up that coalition at any given time. So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy himself is about to vote here, so.
JENNINGS: It's a weak party structure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy.
BURNETT: Yes, let's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BURNETT: Can I just pause on your point about trust, though, because the American public and a lot of people watching don't have a lot of trust in a lot of politicians. They think that a lot of the businesses kind of saying whatever you need to say to get what you want and not being honest. But what you're pointing out is that when you came to that room and you made an agreement or I'm going to do something, I'm going to have my vote for you, that's what these whips are for. That's why they know when they have the vote.
And what happened tonight is somebody lied. Somebody lied directly to Kevin McCarthy or to --
URBAN: Emmer. Tom Emmer.
JENNINGS: And if you believe in the team, if you believe politics is a team sport, you wouldn't lie. So that's why I say these people are functioning almost as a third party because who would you lie to? The other team.
AXELROD: Wait, wait, wait.
BURNETT: Just spoilers.
AXELROD: Donald Trump was president of the United States, OK. He was the leader of the Republican Party. He still apparently is the leader of part of the Republican Party. His whole candidacy and his whole administration was predicated on tearing down institutions and sundering rules, and ignoring these kind of varieties that you're talking about.
So there are consequences to that. These are his disciples who are starring in this drama. This is his legacy.
KAREN FINNEY, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I mean, that is remember, David Urban, one of your many predictions, comments earlier.
URBAN: Did I get it right or was I wrong on that one?
BURNETT: At some point you said Kevin McCarthy would be speaker.
FINNEY: He did.
URBAN: David said he's speaker. I'm right on that part.
FINNEY: OK. Your point, you know, about Donald Trump, to your point about Donald Trump, to David's point, the other David's point, we do need to give Trump credit. Urban made the point that many of the members of this chamber owe their seat to Donald Trump. That is very true. And we have said he didn't have much to do with what is happening. He had a lot to do, to David Axel's point, David versus David.
It had a lot to do not just with the people who are in the chamber but also in the idea of tearing down our institutions, the lack of reverence for our institutions, not to mention, I suspect, what we are going to see over the next days, weeks, months, as we see this kind of inaction and inability to function continue.
BURNETT: Margaret, it's also, you know, the way that this evening was anticipated to go, such that anyone anticipated anything, was that he was going to get the vote when he said he had the vote. Because you don't go and say you have it and put out a picture like Jake showed, of here's our future without having it. And then he's going to get sworn in, and everyone is going to get sworn in, he's going to give a speech, and the rules are going to get voted on.
And now there's not marked anticipation. I don't know, we'll see, but that that would happen, because you've got the moderates who are looking through that, saying, wait, wait. So you're already seeing this problem.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is the tight rope walk that he is going to have to walk. And he's going to have to do it every single day going forward with the sword hanging over him, right? This is the ability to vacate, you know, with one person. This is a razor thin margin. He's going to have to navigate it every single day of his speakership. So you know, the fun just starts right now for him.
AXELROD: I have a little item here. I have an item here, because Dave Urban joked that after the Rogers confrontation with Gaetz, well, whatever's going to happen for Gaetz, it's not going to be on the House Armed Services Committee. Well, guess what?
URBAN: He's in the House Armed Services Committee.
AXELROD: I just got an e-mail from a member who said it appears Gaetz was given the chairmanship of the Military Personnel Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.
URBAN: That would be an awkward -- that'll be an awkward conference, you know, kind of chair.
AXELROD: Yes, but it may not be true, although it seems like it's a pretty solid rumor. Obviously he cut some kind of deal.
URBAN: Yes, and I don't know who makes those promises because the caucuses might, you know, the caucus writ large votes on the committees and who's on the committees and chairs, so maybe that's a promise. We'll see.
AXELROD: We'll see. You know, I mean, we'll find out about all of this stuff in the next few weeks.
AVLON: We sure will, and maybe they will have 72 hours to actually read the rules, which is part of the contents.
BURNETT: Well, it's 55 pages. I just want to be clear, it's 55 pages, the rules document that we got. It's huge. Yes.
AVLON: But, you know, give people time to see what deals were cut, what rules are in place, but I got to say, look, I mean, McCarthy's been trying to triangulate this party. And part of the problem is in terms of you reap what you sow is that buying in the election lie was a litmus test for many folks to win the primary. This is what you get. But I wish the moderates, the centrist Republicans who are left had been speaking out as much as the radicals on the far right. Because that -- this election in 2022 was not a mandate for the opposition party at all.
Independent voters voted for Democrats. And if this party, this caucus, this Congress is going to be representative of the election results, it would be more moderate, not less. It will be more focused on bipartisanship, and I wish there had been a genuine move towards trying to have some kind of bipartisan government in all this.
HOOVER: I'm sorry, you just -- I'm sorry, you just can't have it both ways.
AVLON: What do you mean?
HOOVER: Because part of the problem here is that you always are pointing out, and I think correctly, that the incentive structure in the House of Representatives does not allow for moderates to be rewarded by the moderate majority of their electorate because they are post-partisan primaries, because of these sort of rigged system of redistricting, hate to quote you back to yourself. So how are these moderates going to speak up and get rewarded for it?
AVLON: You know what, the extremes just did, and this election proved that independents --
HOOVER: But that's because they're rewarded.
AVLON: There are 18 Republicans, which is bigger than the margin, who won in districts Biden won. And I'd like to see those 18 be as vocal and demanding as the folks on the far right.
BURNETT: So can I just say, because we're not -- we're only a few seconds away from Rosendale. I understand this has already been decided, but I'm still very curious to see because our understanding was that perhaps.
BURNETT: Perhaps he was the traitor that messed this whole thing up. Unclear, unclear, but -- what really happened, but that he was anticipated to vote present and voted Biggs. So he's coming up in a few seconds.
JENNINGS: Yes, while we wait I just want --
BURNETT: What, you want to bet? Anyone who want to bet where it's going to go now?
URBAN: I'm done betting.
JENNINGS: I wanted to ask you two if you've considered getting a room. I wasn't sure. Not entirely sure. I'm picking up a vibe between you two while we wait.
AVLON: People have noticed.
BURNETT: OK. Let's go ahead. Let's listen to Rosendale.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rogers of Kentucky. McCarthy. Rose. McCarthy. Rosendale. Rosendale. Ross.
JENNINGS: That was anti-climactic.
BURNETT: OK. OK. But maybe not. But maybe not. At this moment, after all this if you're Rosendale happened to be in the bathroom.
JENNINGS: I mean, maybe he wants to do it at the end because they've got to recall the people who don't vote, right?
FINNEY: And perhaps Rosendale was taking a page from Gaetz's book and decides he wants to be the one at the end so then he can say --
URBAN: It doesn't matter now.
HOOVER: It doesn't change the outcome at this point.
URBAN: He can vote --
FINNEY: Doesn't matter. He's running for Senate.
BURNETT: But back to the point about trust, if indeed Rosendale had made an agreement that he was going to vote present and voted Biggs, if that is the case, is there anything you can do to --
JENNINGS: But who --
AVLON: That's irrelevant.
JENNINGS: Apparently he's looking like he's going to run for the Senate. That's what the word is.
AXELROD: This might expedite that.
JENNINGS: So what does he care? He can burn all these bridges tonight. Who cares? He can go back to Montana and say, up there, I treated all these people like crap. That's how they deserved to be treated. I mean, that'll be his whole thing.
URBAN: I lied to my colleagues. I lied to my colleagues?
URBAN: That's not a great position.
JENNINGS: I mean, I agree with you, I think that'd be a terrible way to be running a Senate campaign. I'm just telling you, that would be the theory of the case is to say I thumbed my nose at the politicians in Washington or whatever.
FINNEY: This point about trust is really important. I mean, remember, one of the many things that Kevin McCarthy said to us earlier today was that this is just part of them learning how to work together.
FINNEY: Now if this is what them learning how to work together looks like, we are really in for something of a rough ride, and it is hard to believe. I mean, we know that, frankly, from some of the reporting that throughout this process not only has there been a lack of trust, we know that people, they have been ground down, they are tired, they are bitter, they are -- and so how will they ever be able to come back together and work together, which, I'm just going to throw you a small bone, John Avlon, which is to say that is the opening for the moderate middle to say, you know, while there is this fracture, are they going to step up? Will they find places to work with Democrats on some of the upcoming
legislation. Perhaps even on the rules package yet to be approved.
AVLON: In the earliest version of this movie, let's not forget, John Boehner and Paul Ryan's speakership, at the end of the day when there were government shutdowns and other things, the only way anything got done is Republican leadership working with moderate Democrats or sometimes all Democrats to stop deadlocks. We're going to see more of that. But that's not a way to run a country. It doesn't represent the electorate.
AXELROD: It also required the speakers to be willing to help facilitate --
AVLON: Or have the power to do that.
AXELROD: Right. And we don't know whether Kevin McCarthy will have the inclination or the ability to do that.
AVLON: That's right.
HOOVER: And at the end of the day when the moderates do stick their heads out, they get punished by the electorate because of --
AVLON: In a close partisan primary.
HOOVER: In a close partisan primary, which is what I was saying. This is why McCarthy and leadership, whether it's McCarthy on his face or outside groups -- no, no, no, I mean, this happens in the Senate all the time, as you well know. You know, somehow mysteriously Katie Britt got the nomination in Alabama, instead of these two other loony toons who would have probably lost the seat. You have to have an eye on who the nominees are going to be and what the shape of your conference is going to look like.
BURNETT: Margaret, to your point --
HOOVER: And Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans could have done more to prevent --
BURNETT: And one of the things we understand, right, that he gave up was McCarthy's leadership PAC is not going to play in open primaries.
AXELROD: Right. Right.
BURNETT: This is exactly what you're talking about.
HOOVER: When they gave it up.
BURNETT: Which is part of what they gave up.
JENNINGS: You're suggesting that Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, would go out and campaign against members of his own --
HOOVER: Stop. What I'm saying is you and I both know that Kevin McCarthy, whether his name is on here or not can help shape the kind of candidates who win the primaries in those races, whether his name is on the door or not. You and I all know that.
AXELROD: Shake his own boat?
HOOVER: No, no, no, but, well, maybe he couldn't. He's a bad example, but I just refer my friend on the other side of the aisle to the other House and the chamber and the Senate does a very good job of this as you well know.
JENNINGS: You know, but McConnell and his affiliates never campaign against members of his own conference.
HOOVER: No. But -- oh, really?
JENNINGS: Name one.
HOOVER: It's just a mystery.
JENNINGS: Name one.
HOOVER: No, no, no.
JENNINGS: They don't. This is the discipline of it. They support their conference.
HOOVER: You -- no, no, they're not disciplined.
URBAN: (INAUDIBLE) is an honorable guy. And they don't. They do.
HOOVER: Guys, guys, we all know that there are independent forces that help shape the candidacies in the primaries in the Senate and in the House. And if you've had more outside groups --
JENNINGS: But not against incumbents. Not against sitting members of the Congress.
HOOVER: That's not -- that is just this Congress.
JENNINGS: How could you have the leader of a party --
HOOVER: The leader's name is never on it, but they're -- don't you think some of these leaders and some of these have preferences?
AXELROD: Margaret, I think that one of the things that the House Freedom Caucus people believe is that McCarthy has in some ways moved against them. That was precisely why they put this in the rules.
FINNEY: That's right. AXELROD: So -- and I don't think he's going to dip his toe in that
HOOVER: Because he took credit for Chuck Edwards.
BURNETT: What do you think tonight with all this that happened that he didn't expect, right, that people turned against him, people gave their word, people lied, this happens, someone almost punched somebody out the floor of the House. OK? It was absurd and it was embarrassing. What does this do to Kevin McCarthy? Does he just go, oh, well, I finally got it, let's just forget about all that? Is he chastened? Does this change his psyche? No, you're shaking your head.
JENNINGS: I mean, but psychologically, though, and it's like a hit dog, every time somebody raises a newspaper, they're going to flinch, for the rest of his speakership. I mean, like you point out, once people lie to you, takes a long time to rebuild if you ever do.
URBAN: That's the bigger part, right, not just Kevin McCarthy, but, you know, what is the level of collegiality in the House at this point? Is there anything left, right?
AVLON: I don't understand why we're so stunned that there's lying. That's like being, you know, there's stunned, there's gambling in Casa Blanca. This is -- unfortunately, I mean, yes, character is the thing that's supposed to count most. People should, the words their bond, but this is a party in the downstream from Donald Trump where the litmus test was buying into an election lie. You're going to get more lies. So we shouldn't be so shocked about that.
URBAN: Yes, I guess, John, in this case I just hoped better. Maybe I'm just naive, right? I hope that somebody --
AVLON: I hoped better, too.
URBAN: I hoped in a situation like this where the world is watching, right, and you walk down and you say to Kevin McCarthy, you say to Emmers, you got my word, I'm for you on this one, and then you don't do it? That's a whole level of despicable.
BURNETT: That's looking at individual person in the eye.
URBAN: Right. I mean, it's different. Yes, it is really, I think, just a whole other level.
JENNINGS: Not that they care necessarily, too, but the real losers, when you're someone in a conference like this who loses the trust of your leaders and your committee chairs, the losers are the constituents of the betrayers because they lose influence.
JENNINGS: So if you're --
BURNETT: That's why I was asking about Rosendale. What happened --
JENNINGS: You lose.
FINNEY: But do you lose influence, given the slim margins that we're talking about. And again, I think this is the calculation that so many of these, the four or the five, the six, the seven that we've been talking about, that is the calculation that they have actually made. They won't lose because time and time again --
URBAN: Well --
FINNEY: -- they'll be able to leverage that.
AXELROD: No, no, but there's a bigger issue here, which is they didn't get the majority they should have had given the nature of the year because there are a lot of independent voters, a lot of Americans who did not trust them, who did not think they could keep the extremists at bay.
FINNEY: And they were right about that.
AXELROD: This will only accelerate that view. I think that Republicans are really, really harming themselves here.
AVLON: That's the whole ball game, right? I mean a rational response to this election result would be a chastened Republican Party that's trying to show that it can be responsible and reach out and not simply be dominated by its most extreme wing. But the exact opposite has played out all week. It is kryptonite to independents and most centrist Republicans who voted against Republicans this time around to send just that message.
URBAN: John, that assumes you have rational actors in those seats, right, that the holdouts here, the 20, whatever, the six, the eight, the seven, that they're rational, right. The Chip Roys of the world, they were negotiating. We're going to move to something.
BURNETT: They have principles.
URBAN: Yes, they have principles. And to your point, John, you're saying, like, you're right, the election should have said let's be more moderate, let's show we can govern. Let's do these things, right? There's a group of people, like Scott pointed out, the chaos caucus, that's not -- they don't care, that's not their brand.
HOOVER: But they are entirely rational based on the districts they represent. They are in safe red -- deep red districts. And as you're saying they're not going to get primaried by the guy, the leader of the party, so they're safe to be the spoilers. That's the problem. It's the incentive structure that's the problem.
JENNINGS: They don't really care about the health, John, of the overall Republican Party. Like, they don't wake up in the morning thinking we need a strong party. They don't -- that's not sure.
AVLON: They should care more about the health of the Republic. BURNETT: Jake, here we are. Here we are.
AVLON: All right there, you go.
TAPPER: That is it, he has reached.
JENNINGS: The speaker.
TAPPER: He has reached the margin, the 215 margin with five members voting present. The threshold goes down from 218 to 215. And we have there Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Kevin McCarthy. The Republican first elected to the House of Representatives in 2006. He has been serving as a leader since then. And he wins on the 15th bout, becoming the 55th person to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Fifteen ballots. This is the longest process in 164 years and the only time that it has lasted this long since the U.S. civil war. McCarthy won ugly.
He won by making concession after concession. He won in a process that was, at times, chaotic and angry and once almost downright violent. But the keyword in this sentence is the word won, Kevin McCarthy won. He is now the speaker of the House. It is history. It is maybe history for the wrong reasons for some folks. But it is history, Dana Bash.
BASH: It is. And you know, one of his allies was texting me as it was going back and forth and back and forth, and we saw the drama, and this person just said keep, your eye on the ball for him and the ball is winning. And the ball is this moment. And the ball is becoming speaker of the House. And the rollercoaster, obviously, was quite tumultuous tonight. But think about the journey that he took and that he put himself on, particularly through the Trump years in order to get to this moment.
HUNT: Indeed. And you know, I think the other thing I'm flashing back to is what Kevin McCarthy has been saying to reporters, which is it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Frankly, the night is finishing the way that they expected, but it did not go the way they expected when they walked on.
BASH: That's his family.
HUNT: For the House.
GANGEL: Can I just say once more this is two years since January 6th? And what was going on in the House that day, and how many of these members were election deniers or voted to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
TAPPER: Including the speaker of the House, the new speaker of the House.
CHERYL JOHNSON, CLERK OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: -- when I call the names of the members-elect who did not answer the first call of the roll.
TAPPER: I think they are waiting for -- I think there is one Democrat that was out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vincente Gonzalez. Jeffries.
TAPPER: That's two call for Jeffries. We're still waiting for Rosendale.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rosendale.
REP. MATTHEW ROSENDALE (R-MT): Present.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Present.
TAPPER: There it is, present. So six present votes. All six of the rebels, the final holdouts voted present, which lowered the threshold necessary for McCarthy. He didn't have to win 218, 216 was just fine.
PHILLIP: From a tactical perspective this night is a huge victory for Kevin McCarthy. He had a strategy of grind it out, a strategy of divide and conquer, and ultimately that worked. I think now even at this hour it is important to look at the long term, the bigger picture here is that he is perhaps going to be the weakest speaker in modern history beholden to a very, very, very small portion of his conference.
A group of people, who as we saw tonight, he can't even really trust. So it's a -- I think a bittersweet moment for him because I think there are going to be as everyone wakes up tomorrow morning, what is this speakership going to look like, what is this majority going to look like, and what is the country going to be going through over the next few months as they have to govern.
GANGEL: And what did he promise them? We still don't know what the concessions were. What was Matt Gaetz promised in the end and for his vote as well? We're going to be finding this out not just in weeks but down the road what he promised them.
TAPPER: We were told at the beginning of the night that the vote on the rules package would proceed after the vote on the speakership. This was at a time that we thought it was only going to go to 14 ballots and was going to conclude an hour or so ago and without anybody almost punching Matt Gaetz in the face. But we are here now and I think we're being told that the rules package will be voted on Monday and not today, is that right, Dana?
BASH: We believe so. I don't think it's definitely decided yet. Before that happens, we haven't seen Kevin McCarthy actually get the gavel.
BASH: We haven't seen the members of Congress actually sworn in.
TAPPER: Right. BASH: You know, we've been here and we've been watching this series of
15 votes, including by members elect, but they are still members elect even at this moment. They have not been sworn in to officially become members of the House of Representatives.
TAPPER: Yes, so there is still the official vote to be counted, to be called by the readers and by the clerk. And then, of course, the official swearing in of this Congress.
After which we anticipate, although good money's on not making any bets these days, we anticipate that there will be a motion to adjourn, John?
KING: We may first hear, though, from Speaker McCarthy and the Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.
TAPPER: Yes. I anticipate that as well. We did see Speaker McCarthy mouthed the word finally just a few minutes ago. But America is about to hear a lot more from this man who is now third in line to the presidency. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
GANGEL: Oh, my gosh.
COLLINS: Greene was one of those members that was --
TAPPER: Kicked off committees, kicked off her committees not long ago because of violent rhetoric that she had used against members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, and all sorts of things she had said that were antisemitic and racist and on and on. She is going to be a star in the McCarthy reign.
HUNT: Now snapped a selfie.
TAPPER: Having stood by his side during the entire time, even while her fellow MAGA, MAGA-MAGA caucus members caused lots of problems for him.
COLLINS: Well, she's a prime example of what we've seen happen this week. He has offered concessions, and people have given them their votes. He offered her a place on the Oversight Committee, she supported him through and through this. I was going to say, she was also one of the liaisons helping facilitate the calls between former President Trump and members as that chaos was breaking out on the floor about half an hour ago.
HUNT: And the relationship, too, between them is also, you know, the side effect, one of the side effects of that picture that McCarthy went down and took with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. I mean, we're talking about in which order or who was helped the most by what unfolded that day. But obviously --
TAPPER: Let's listen in.
JOHNSON: It was agreed in their tally that the total number of votes cast is 428 of which the honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California has received 216.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: The honorable Hakeem Jeffries of the state of New York has received 212. With six recorded as present, therefore the honorable Kevin McCarthy of the state of California having received a majority of the votes cast is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(MEMBERS CHANTS "USA")
JOHNSON: The clerk appoints the following committee to escort the speaker-elect to the chair. The gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Scalise, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Jeffries, the gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Emmer, the gentlewoman from Massachusetts, Miss Clark, the gentlewoman from New York, Miss Stefanik, the gentleman from California, Mr. Aguilar, the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Johnson, the gentleman from California, Mr. Liu.
The gentlewoman from Michigan, Mrs. McClain, the gentlewoman from Washington, Miss DelBene, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Hudson, the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Clyburn, the gentleman from Alabama, Mr. Palmer, the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Neguse, the gentlewoman from Oklahoma, Mrs. Vice.
The gentlewoman from Texas, Miss Escobar, the gentlewoman from Indiana, Mrs. Hushing, the gentlewoman from Illinois, Miss Underwood, the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Cole, the gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Phillips, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. McHenry, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Perry, the gentlewoman from California, Miss Barbara Lee, the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Graves.
The gentlewoman from Florida, Miss Wasserman Schultz, the gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hill, the gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr. Cicilline, the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Roy, the gentlewoman from Virginia, Miss Spanberger, the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Donalds, the gentlewoman from California, Miss Jacobs, the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Bishop, the gentlewoman from Texas, Miss Crockett.
And the members of the California delegation, Miss Pelosi, Miss Waters, Mr. Calvert, Miss Eshoo, Miss Lofgren, Mr. Sherman, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Schiff, Miss Sanchez, Mr. Issa, Mr. Costa, Miss Matsui, Mr. McClintock, Miss Chu, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Bera, Miss Brownley, Mr. Cardenas, Mr. Huffman, Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. Peters, Mr. Ruiz, Mr. Swalwell, Mr. Takano, Mr. Vargas, Mr. DeSaulnier, Mrs. Torres, Mr. Valadao, Miss Barragan, Mr. Carbajal, Mr. Correa, Mr. Khanna, Mr. Panetta, Mr. Gomez, Mr. Harder, Mr. Levin, Miss Porter, Mr. Mike Garcia, Mrs. Kim, Mr. Obernolte, Mrs. Steele, Mr. Duarte, Mr. Robert Garcia, Mr. Kamlager-Dove, Mr. Kiley, Mr. Mullin.
The committee will retire from the chamber to escort the speaker-elect to the chair.
TAPPER: So we're -- the clerk just listed the names of the California delegation. Kevin McCarthy is from the delegation. And we are now expecting some of the formal procedures to go on. I saw one of the members of the California delegation, Congresswoman Katie Porter, sitting in the audience reading a book called "The Subtle Art of Not Giving an F."
BASH: Another member of the California delegation by the name of Nancy Pelosi was walking by. That's going to be interesting. Although, you know, traditionally, we have seen this moment, the leader of the opposition party gives the gavel.
HUNT: When they called Hakeem Jeffries and other leaders as well to be part of this.
BASH: Right, and that, you know, Manu Raju was reporting earlier that that is going to be Hakeem Jeffries, obviously, because he is the leader now, and it won't be --
TAPPER: It won't be Pelosi.
BASH: It won't be Pelosi. She's no longer the leader. I mean, some of those moments are kind of iconic. John Boehner crying when he gave her the gavel and vice versa.
HUNT: Well, you know, that's actually such an interesting point because you know historically, and we've, you know, talked so much about this, but this is a small club, right, of people who've gotten a chance to be the speaker of the House.
And in the past, there has been some reverence. There have been, you know, relationships built between people who have served on, you know, from different parties. George W. Bush, you know, famously complimented Nancy Pelosi's grit as becoming the first woman speaker of the House when that unfolded.
Those moments are almost entirely gone from Washington now, which I think is going to be an interesting -- it's going to be interesting to watch how this actually unfolds and how the relationships seem to be because, you know, quite frankly, the events of January 6th, in particular in the House of Representatives really broke down the trust, we've talked a lot about trust inside the Republican Party, but I mean, there have been metal detectors outside of the House of Representatives because they're concerned about death threats, et cetera.
So, I mean, this is a very different -- I mean, you talk about these symbolic moments where there's a motion and, you know, feeling and they're human moments, right? There's a lot less of that in Washington these days.
TAPPER: Well, I mean, I think a lot of the Democrats hold a lot of the people across the aisle responsible for the attack on the Capitol, not least of whom is the new speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, who participated in Donald Trump's lies and signed on to that crazy lawsuit trying to disenfranchise five or six states, and even after blood was shed two years ago today, including the blood of Officer Brian Sicknick, voted to disenfranchise the voters of Pennsylvania and Arizona based on those lies.
And what they have witnessed is Kevin McCarthy not turning the page but continuing to capitulate. We still don't know what Scott Perry, who was one of the people who was part of the plot to undermine the democracy, what he got from this negotiation.
KING: They continue to just whitewash, try to have amnesia, pick your term for it, deny what happened that day. They just don't want to acknowledge what happened that day.
TAPPER: Do you know how many Republicans went to the floor of the -- I'm sorry, the stairs of the Capitol this morning? There weren't many House Republicans. One, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
Manu Raju, we're told you have some news.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. McCarthy giving reaction about all some of the chaos on the House floor to our colleagues Ted Barrett and Kit Maher. Came off the floor and he said, quote, "I am glad it's over."
Now, he also denied he offered Matt Gaetz a chairmanship of a subcommittee in exchange for that vote of present and said it would be up to the steering committee, which is the committee here that he is involved with that essentially selects committee members to get those key committee assignments. That steering committee to give such a committee assignment to Matt Gaetz. He said he did not promise that to Matt Gaetz.
He said, quote, "No one is promised anything." He said whatever happens in steering. So he said he was happy it's over, and he denied making this offer to Matt Gaetz. We'll hopefully learn more about all the chaos on the floor. He is expected to talk to the press after this speech on the floor where he formally accepts the speaker's gavel but here making clear he did not offer any sort of quid pro quo on the speaker's gavel itself or the subcommittee gavel itself with Matt Gaetz, but also indicating he's relieved this is all coming to an end.
TAPPER: Yes, I would note, and this is just from observation, not from any reporting, but it did look, though, as though after Gaetz and McCarthy had made whatever conversation they'd made, whatever arrangement, whatever (INAUDIBLE) had happened where McCarthy ran to the front and tried to change his vote so there would not be a motion to adjourn so they could go on and have this 15th vote, it did look to me as though Kevin McCarthy actually waited until Matt Gaetz actually cast his vote against adjournment before he cast his.
And if I read that correctly, that would suggest he wanted to make sure Matt Gaetz went through with what he said he was going to do.
KING: It's also quite possible that Kevin McCarthy did not promise Matt Gaetz anything because he has led for most of it. We saw the remarkable moments on the floor when he got directly involved himself tonight, but for most of the last several days saw that his fingerprints are not on some of these deals and because he's not trusted by the rebels as well, he has let his deputies make the promises and cut deals, and do the winks and nods.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Victoria Spartz, Republican of Indiana, having a late-night giggle with one of her colleagues. People have been working very hard and very late all week.
COLLINS: Remarkable they all voted present and no one voted against Kevin McCarthy in the final vote after what we've seen play out for those rounds and how that is all gone.
TAPPER: Given the fact that it was so important for them to cast votes for Andy Biggs even in the 14th ballot.
COLLINS: And Kevin Hern.
COLLINS: And not Kevin McCarthy, which is (INAUDIBLE) before he voted present eventually. There will be questions about Trump's influence on this, given he was making those last-minute phone calls.
Of course, he didn't have a ton of influence throughout the week. That's why it stretched into here we are at 12:49 on Saturday, January 7th, and I do think it's speaks how they all voted present in the end, though.
TAPPER: You want to tell everybody who that is, Kaitlan?
COLLINS: He's about to get sworn in and be an actual member of Congress, George Santos.
TAPPER: George Santos who lied about literally everything on his resume.
COLLINS: Well, now congressman-elect will be on there. I guess that's true.
PHILLIP: Having the time.
HUNT: Having the time of his life.
KING: But whatever the truth is about how much Trump's involvement mattered, the man he called "My Kevin" will be speaker of the House.
TAPPER: Second in line to the presidency.
KING: And he won the speakership two years to the day. We're now in January 7th by the clock in Washington, D.C., but the proceedings on January 6th when they came back also carried into the early morning hours of January 7th. So the historical -- I'm going to use the term irony. There's a better term for it. I don't know what it is but --
HUNT: History rhymes.
TAPPER: And in 2015 the last time he was supposed to be speaker of the House he lost the confidence of the Republican conference by admitting -- seeming to admit that the reason that Congress had had so many hearings on Benghazi and that crisis and that tragedy was to bring down Hillary Clinton's approval ratings, it was to ruin her political reputation.
Now he has control of the U.S. House with Donald Trump running for president against the current president and Kevin McCarthy and the Oversight Committee are going to be holding the Biden administration to account. Certainly that is absolutely appropriate. That's what Congress is supposed to do. One wonders will there be excesses?
BASH: Well, the answer to that question we can just look at one of the concessions that Chip Roy who was one of the 20, Republican from Texas, said publicly that Kevin McCarthy gave, which is a separate budget for investigations, specifically of DOJ and the FBI.
Now, again, like you were saying oversight is the constitutional duty of the United States Congress. But the fact that one of the demands of this group was more money, more taxpayer dollars specifically to target those two parts of the administration is rather telling.
KING: When several sitting members of the House Republican conference are under investigation by the Justice Department.
KING: They now know want to investigate.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely. And in fact I have heard from establishment Republicans very, very concerned that whatever this committee will be, will be a vehicle if it's abused to obstruct justice. Not just to investigate the Justice Department, but to stop them from carrying out their duty investigating anyone in the House of Representatives who have broken the law.
PHILLIP: I mean, I think that while there's a lot of legitimate things that this Republican Congress wants to look into, how money is spent, waste, fraud, and abuse, et cetera, et cetera, there's no question that there's a clear political objective to a lot of the things that this small contingent of let's say five or six want. One of them is this committee that, you know, my understanding is that the budget issue, they wanted it to be basically commiserate with what the January 6th Committee had.
And think about that. I mean, I think a lot of the concern in this group about the DOJ and about the FBI is frankly based on conspiracy, and it's based on stuff that is floating around on the internet much of which has no basis in fact and it's coming at a time when many of them are under investigation, and the aim here is to put it on par with the January 6th Committee investigation, which was an investigation into an attempted coup, an insurrection on the Capitol. And then there's all the other stuff, the Hunter Biden stuff, the
attempts to investigate President Biden himself, which is not something that they can't do, but the premise of some of these things is not on solid ground. But all of that is going to be, you know, available for them to do. Kevin McCarthy has basically said go for it.
PHILLIP: And they'll do it.
COLLINS: But one thing, you know, when I talked to Biden officials about this because they've been staffing up for this for months because they thought it was going to be a much bigger majority is they did raise a question at times are these going to be well coordinated investigations, are they going to come off as legitimate?
PHILLIP: I think it's a really good question.
COLLINS: I think the week that we've seen play out does not lend a ton of credibility to that. We'll see how they're actually conducted by the chairman.
You know, Jimmy Comer, we've been listening to him talk during this week. We'll see how they actually look when they play out. I think this is one thing that makes the White House feel a little bit better about the preparation they've done for this but we'll see how they actually plan on this.
BASH: I don't know. If I were in the White House I would feel less good about it because it's pretty clear --
HUNT: Gloves are off.
BASH: Well, it's not even the gloves are off but the people who are allowed to use -- the people who have the power are those who have absolutely no qualms about doing things that are not within the bounds of any law, any process, any procedure.
GANGEL: The inmates are running the asylum.
BASH: Thank you, Jamie.
HUNT: Yes, and I mean, I think it's important to also remember big picture that this is all going to be playing out against the backdrop of a presidential campaign, which is just going to crank up the emotion, the heat, the rhetoric, you know, and to your point, Dana, that --
TAPPER: Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speaker-elect, the honorable Kevin McCarthy of California.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Madam Clerk, Whip Clark, distinguished members of the House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican Conference, it's my high honor and distinct privilege to finally be able to welcome all of you to the 118th Congress.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFRIES: Let me just begin by thanking my good friend Pete Aguilar for his very generous words of introduction and for placing my name into nomination a total of nine times. And I also want to thank my other colleagues from the Democratic caucus for your generous words of nomination as well Jim Clyburn, Katherine Clark, Ted Lieu, Dean Philips, Joe Neguse, and Veronica Escobar.
I also want to thank my colleagues, my friends in the House Democratic Caucus for your perseverance, for your strength, for your friendship, for your unanimity of purpose, and for your unanimous support.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JEFFRIES: And I simply want to say that that showing of strength is not for any one particular individual. It will be a showing of strength throughout the 118th Congress, unanimity of purpose on behalf of the American people.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)