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CNN Live Event/Special
House Removes Speaker For First Time In American History; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Will Not Run For Speaker After Historic Ouster; U.S. Government In Uncharted Territory As House In Chaos; Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar Weighs In On House Speakership; CNN's Abby Phillip And Laura Coates Conduct An In-Depth Discussion On The House Speaker's Fate; Judge Puts Trump On Gag Order After Social Media Attack. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 03, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Whether it's a former president being issued a gag order in one of his half dozen trials or House speaker fired, it has been another day for the history books.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Indeed. And now that they have got a week off, contenders for Kevin McCarthy's old job will no doubt be making the coming days pretty interesting too.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Safe to say, Jake and Anderson. Of course, the news continues tonight. Our special coverage here certainly does.
Joining me now, Abby Phillip and Laura Coates.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I am Abby Phillip alongside my colleagues Laura Coates and Kaitlan Collins. This is a special edition of CNN Primetime for an unprecedented moment in the history of the United States.
The headline tonight, the American government is broken. The tyranny of a minority is now paralyzing this country's institutions. Depending on where you might stand politically, it could be for better or worse, in your view. But right now, here is where we are. There is currently no speaker of The house, and after narrowly avoiding a shutdown, the government is set to run out of money in less than 45 days. And the House is now leaving for a week.
Now, all of this is because, for the very first time ever, Republicans have successfully ousted a sitting speaker. A handful of hardliners complained that Kevin McCarthy did not do enough to curb spending, even though the party did not seem too concerned about that during the Trump era, when the nation's debt skyrocketed. The tensions played out in private in these angry meetings, and then on the floor around the vote today.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): We need a speaker, ideally somebody who does not want to be speaker, and has not pursued that at all costs for his entire adult life.
REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): I am very proud of the speaker. I am very proud to stand behind him.
GOOD: A red line was crossed for me, I regret, on Saturday. And so it's regret that I must vote against the motion to table, as I did, and to vote to vacate the chair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin McCarthy has earned this.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Chaos is speaker McCarthy. Chaos is somebody who we cannot trust with their word.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): He has kept his word. I think we should keep him as speaker.
REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): I think it is time to make a change. I'm not the only one.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Everyone who knows Kevin McCarthy, whether they are friend or foe, knows that Kevin McCarthy is a happy warrior.
GAETZ: I will just say, if this House of Representatives has exceeded all expectations, then we definitely need higher expectations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of speaker of the house of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant.
PHILLIP: Tonight, the big news, McCarthy told his party that he will not run for the speakership again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I will never give up on the American people. That doesn't mean I have to be speaker to do what I have to do for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: But at this point, the question really is who would even want this job?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) for the speakership?
GAETZ: Absolutely not. I have no desire to speaker of the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Laura, Matt Gaetz there seemingly and unwittingly admitting that everyone likes to throw bombs, but leading, ultimately, is hard.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Yes, and he has no intention of actually trying to get that gavel, he just did not want Kevin McCarthy to have it, as you know.
Well, joining me now, Abby, is Republican Congressman Bob Good of Virginia. He is one of the eight Republicans who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House. Thank you for being here. And, Congressman, what a day.
GOOD: Indeed, it was. And quite frankly a win for the American people, because this was a blow against the status quo, a blow against the establishment swamp, the D.C. swamp cartel. There's a reason why Congress has at 20 percent approval rating and 80 percent of Americans say we are on the wrong track. Both parties have contributed to that.
And while it is the Democrat Parties that are in place that are destroying the country, that are crushing regular Americans with high interest rates and inflation and grocery prices and gas prices and utility and an open border, but Republicans have also contributed in terms of not making real change, not fighting when we have the House majority. And so this was a blow against that status quo, and I fight for change, which most Americans want in Congress.
COATES: Well, it's interesting that you mentioned the status quo as the perspective that you bring here. But for many of the American people, they are looking at Congress more broadly as dysfunctional. You have now voted to our Speaker McCarthy. There is no succession plan in place. So, for all the things you have just named, this has really been a paralyzing moment. Nothing can get done in the same way you are talking about. Why has there been no succession plan and was that not contemplated?
GOOD: Well, I would reject that there was no succession plan, because what you typically have when you are choosing a speaker, you've got the presumptive speaker, the party candidate that everyone has the support. Everyone is afraid to raise their hand and say they are candidate because of retaliation or consequence, because they didn't support the presumptive one. Most members of Congress just vote for whoever the party says to.
Tell me when there was an upset vote for speaker. When has that happened in the history of modern times? But now we will have a contest. We will have a competition where all members are equal in terms of their opportunities to throw their hat in a ring. We will have a candidate forum on Tuesday night. Between now and then, we will vet candidates, meet with candidates, talk with them. They will try to build coalitions of support and we have a talented group of individuals. And some of them will rise and become that speaker. We'll get -- someone has to get at 218 because we have to, quite frankly.
But sometimes people will say, oh, well, Congress is not getting things done. Well, tell me what you are getting done for the American people? As if you are going to surgery and say, I don't care who does the surgery, I don't care what they do, just get something done, just do something. Most of what we are doing or have been doing historically has been hurting the American people. The American people are suffering. They don't feel like Washington is working for them.
We've got $33 trillion in national debt. We've got an open border. We've got a depleted military. We've got an American weekend on the national stage. We have a president that has such low approval rating. It's in Congress that I noted has low approval ratings. We want to try to get it right. We want to get a right with the best speaker that we can put forward and that will help lead the change the American people voted for when they give us the House back last November.
COATES: And yet, when I look at the calendar, and you mentioned that this will not take place until next week, an actual vote, you are going to be without a leader for a week. McCarthy is not running again. It takes 218 votes, as you said. Who can actually get to these votes to try to drive home the point that you are making? I know that Gaetz keeps pointing to Congressman Steve Scalise, but he does not seem to want this job. And, of course, it did take 15 rounds despite what you say was a kind of a foregone conclusion. It took 15 rounds for McCarthy to even get it. So, who do you not support?
GOOD: It only took 15 rounds because we broke history ended something that had not happened in 160 years, when members of Congress back in January voted against their presumptive leader, their presumptive speaker. That had not happen in 60 years. And that put changes in place where how Congress would operate. We returned to regular order, where members in the minority party and the majority party have had input, amendments, working through committee, minimum amount of time to read bills, ability to make amendments from the floor, as I noted. So, that has made Congress stronger and, frankly, we have restored the ability to remove the speaker if he was not living up to the obligations or the commitment that he made to become speaker.
So, that is how our constitutional republic is supposed to work. That is how a legislative body is supposed to work. And we have restored that in Congress. And now --
COATES: Congressman, I don't want to cut you off. I know there will be a number of (INAUDIBLE), as you mentioned, but right now, whoever the candidate will be, if you are talking about just say the attractiveness of a particular job, you have got this now motion to vacate option that is there. Certainly, Pelosi did not have it but it has been and play for quite some time. Will you demand that whoever is who steps up to the plate, hoping to become the next speaker, do you demand that they also operate at the same motion to vacate option?
GOOD: Well, absolutely. It was in place for 200 years until Nancy Pelosi changed. It was good for Thomas Jefferson. It should be good for our speaker today. A strong, secure, confident leader recognizes that he or she serves at the pleasure of those who elect him. And the good thing is they'll be all starting from an equal footing, trying to earn the support of 218. We will have a vested interest in their success, not just because we want the best for the country, which is what I pledged Speaker McCarthy, as I said on the House floor after he was elected back in January, but because we all have voted in this person. And we are committed as a conference to coming together and find that best person who can get to 218 votes.
COATES: Just this past Saturday, a can was kicked down the road in terms of a government shutdown. 45 days away is now the next opportunity. You cut into that, a week of time now, when somebody is no longer going to be the speaker of the House. Are you not concerned that there won't be enough time to steer the government in the right direction and try to follow through with what you are objectives are?
GOOD: I appreciate you making that point about last Saturday. Yes, last Saturday was a failure. Congress fell back, under speaker McCarthy, to doing what we have been doing for years, which is failing to pass our 12 appropriation bills. That's how you get to $33 trillion dollars in debt, a trillion dollars a year and interest on the debt, trajectory to get a $50 trillion of debt in the next ten years, unsustainable, bankrupting our kids and our grandkids, policies that are destroying the country. And so our commitment was to change that.
I mean, the speaker did not join us in changing that. And when he failed and reverted back to the status quo of the past, we removed him as speaker, and that's a win for the American people.
COATES: Well, some would look at this as not a win in the sense of bipartisan was what was in part achieved. I understand the points that you are raising wholeheartedly. But if a failure is keeping the government open, I wonder how some would define success.
But let me ask you this about what Congressman Matt Gaetz had to say, because he has been, as you probably heard by now, fundraising off of what took place today, in a motion to vacate. Do you think that is appropriate?
GOOD: Well, all members fundraise all the time. When you are in a two- year election cycle and it takes millions of dollars to get to Congress, it takes millions of dollars to stay in Congress. And don't think that the swamp won't strike back, the empire won't strike back. And those who are willing to stand up and be counted and fight for the American people instead of fighting for the donor class and the lobbyists and Case Street and Wall Street that are fighting for the American people, don't you think they're going to have a target on their back? So, why wouldn't they let the American people know that the they stand with them and if the American people want to support them, they can choose to do so, nothing wrong with that.
COATES: Do you feel you have a target on your back, obviously, figuratively speaking here, given your vote against McCarthy? Because, as you can imagine, there is a select few number of congressmen and congresswomen compared to, of course, those who voted to keep him in power on the Republican side? Do you feel that you are now vulnerable based on your choice?
GOOD: Well, I just would tell you this, that back in January and, again, today, you had members of Congress make history by being willing to risk their own personal careers, their own personal ambitions in terms of what was safe and secure, just through the status quo, and to do what they believe was right, irrespective of the costs. We need more courage in Washington and we need more people willing to do that.
COATES: Are you going to put your name into the ring?
GOOD: Right now, I am only 217 votes away from getting to 218, so, if your endorsement will help me get there, if you wanted to go ahead and give that to me tonight.
COATES: We are not doing math for you this evening. Congressman Bob Good, thank you so much.
GOOD: Great to be with you. Thank you.
PHILLIP: All right. And to understand the path forward from here, the chapters of McCarthy's political career perfectly explained, the Republican Party's rollercoaster ride over the past decade.
Now, at first, McCarthy was thought to be the future of the party, a new generation of fiscally conservative lawmakers. But as you can see here, the three of the young guns on this book cover all long gone. Paul Ryan, who is also the speaker, had trouble corraling the right wing of his party.
And then the second chapter of McCarthy's career begins with an escalator. He hitched his wagon to the Trump train and he became an ally through the impeachments, through the election lies and all of it. And then next, there was McCarthy's pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago for a photo op, not long after the insurrection that he blamed Trump for despite those lies that led to the attack in the workplace.
And the final chapter, this picture, from back in January, that is McCarthy and Matt Gaetz, face to face, on the floor, before McCarthy eventually agreed to neuter his own power just so that he could become speaker after 15 rounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How do you expect to govern this way, that it has been taking this long to get the conference united?
MCCARTHY: See, this is the great point. Because it took this long, now we learned how to govern. So, now we will be able to get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Fast forward to right now, the epilogue of the Republican young guns is playing out before our eyes.
And joining me now to discuss all of this is Andrew Yang, the former 2020 presidential candidate and author of The Last Election, along with CNN Political Analyst Coleman Hughes, host of the Conversation with Coleman podcast, and also with us, CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp and Jamal Simmons, former communications director for Kamala Harris, also a CNN political commentator. Jamal, this moment, Kevin McCarthy basically predicted for himself by giving Matt Gaetz a lot of power back in January. But you really could argue that this was years in the making.
JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was years in the making. The establishment Republican Party has done a deal with the sort of anti-establishment, rogue forces, where anger is really the kind of testament of how much you are true. We talk about people being moderate. But they are not really moderate in the sense that we may think of it, like, oh, they have positions that are close to the center. They're just not yelling and screaming all the time or trying to overturn the system.
And so I think what Kevin McCarthy has done is sort of proven that it is sometimes better to think about doing important things than it is to think about just doing an important job. He sought a job but he did not actually get very much done when he had the job.
And I think -- I imagine that there will come a moment from him in the dark of night, a little bit away from now, where he thinks, I probably should have done a little bit more with that gavel.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I doubt it.
That would require a lot of self-reflection. And listen, like Kevin McCarthy -- I know the young guns. I came up with the young guns. Kevin McCarthy always wanted to be speaker. I mean, this was where he wanted to get. And, obviously, his ambition outweighed his dignity, apparently, because he made this deal with Matt Gaetz and other troublemakers to essentially sign his own death certificate like whenever they wanted.
And so he is leaving the way he came in, really with Matt Gaetz holding his faith in his hands. Don't be surprised if you lose them the way you get them.
PHILLIP: It's so funny. Because he actually talked a lot about, first of all, this job being such a thing for him, from since he was a child, and how he did not get a job as an intern, but then he got a job as the speaker. So, to your point, very important to him and it was brought up on the floor today.
I want to play this from McCarthy where he basically tried to put all the blame not -- he had plenty to blame for the conservatives, of course, in his conference but also on the Democrats. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I think today was a political decision by the Democrats. And I think the things they have done in the past hurt the institution when they just started moving people from committee, when they just started doing the other things.
And my fear is the institution fell to them because you can't do the job if you are eight people. You have 94 percent or 96 percent of your entire conference, but eight people can partner with the whole other side. How do you govern?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I am honestly trying to understand that. Because he was the one who agreed to that rule that gave 3 percent, 6 percent, whatever percent it is of the conference, all of this power.
COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. There is no way around the fact that this is a huge win for Matt Gaetz, right? This is just -- this -- if you think about this from the perspective of whoever the next speaker is, what they have to be thinking is, well, I really have to take this Matt Gaetz seriously because he is really willing to blow it all up. It gives him a lot more leverage and it ends up in some strange way being an own goal for the Democrats. Because like it or not, McCarthy, he was not the worst a speaker could get. He was not the most radical you could get, right? It could be the case that we get replaced someone -- somebody were, somebody that is more friendly to the Matt Gaetzs and Marjorie Taylor Greenes.
CUPP: And more competent, right, to actually get that stuff done, right.
ANDREW YANG, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree with Coleman. I held out hope that there would be some kind of brokered deal, power sharing agreement between Kevin McCarthy and the Democrats. We had a couple of dozen Democrats refrain from voting or say, hey, we will actually keep you from getting ousted. Democrats, at this point, are the party of good government and this is just bad for the country to have a leaderless, rudderless house when you are 45 days away from defaulting on the national debt.
PHILLIP: Do you think there is any truth to the criticism -- McCarthy makes it -- that Democrats should have, for the good of the institution, stepped in here?
YANG: I think there was a deal to be had.
PHILLIP: But isn't that McCarthy's deal to make?
YANG: Between Kevin McCarthy, and it is on Kevin McCarthy, where he would have to do something. And it's also true that his conference would turn on him if he said, hey, guys, the Democrats are going to bail me out. But this would have been good for the country. The fact that you'd have a different coalition coming together and making sure you had a speaker of the House.
What we have instead is chaos. It's terrible for the country. Anyone who says they know what's going to happen next is lying, because this has never happened before. No one among the House Republican Caucus knows who the next leader is going to be. They are having these conversations right now. And who wants this job?
To your point, they have to make it so the next speaker cannot have a motion to vacate with one, two, three, votes. It has to be double digits or higher to have any kind of security. But can they get that kind of concession for the hardliners?
CUPP: Well, I will tell you what they are doing immediately. One of the pro tempore's first official acts, Patrick McHenry, was to email Nancy Pelosi and tell her to vacate her office and Matt Gaetz is already criticizing the pro tempore speaker. So, it's going great, guys.
SIMMONS: But, attitudinally, he's exactly where his caucus is, right, which is basically middle fingers to the other side on the libs (ph).
PHILLIP: But, you know, it's honestly not -- correct me if I am wrong S.E., not what McHenry is known for, as sort of being a flamethrower.
CUPP: No. People think he's a very sort of sober middle of the road guy, but he has been thrust into this kind of impossible wall (ph).
PHILLIP: But to the question that Andrew just asked, who would want this job? Well, one Republican, Troy Nehls of Texas, has said, well, you don't have to be a member to be a speaker. Let's call in Donald Trump.
CUPP: I have seen that. I think Hannity was just talking about that, so was Don Jr.
PHILLIP: I mean, look, if we had not just ousted a speaker for the first time in history, I would say, that's crazy talk.
SIMMONS: Well, listen, the poetry around that is really obscene, right, because here, you have a guy who helped launch the January 6th insurrection against that House of Representatives, where people were defecating inside the Congress, the congressional building, who could possibly be the speaker and in charge of the Capitol Police who were injured in the January 6th insurrection. This is peak Republican silliness.
PHILLIP: It says a lot about Trump is a shadow looming over this chamber right now, no matter what, which way you look at it.
HUGHES: Yes. I mean, if Trump were gone, the entire Republican Party would change overnight. The shadow that he cast over the whole party, there are just so few people willing for any reason, whatsoever, to signal that they are not loyal to him. You see what happens to Chris Christie. You see what happens to any Republican that even hints at disloyalty to Donald Trump. He is still the elephant in the room for Republicans. And that just -- it's a fundamental character trait of the party now.
YANG: And that's what I would like to double down on is, there is the sense that after, oh, Trump recedes from the scene, Republicans will somehow snap back to their senses, it's not happening. I mean, this party has become beholden to its base and the base likes it. The base is now running the asylum and that is not going to reverse itself.
PHILLIP: Yes. And, look, Trump may have created some of these characters, but they are here now and they are doing their own work with or without him.
Thanks, everyone. Standby for us. Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Yes. I think the idea of Trump becoming House speaker is a bit of a fever dream from some Republicans. But who knows? A lot of options are on the table.
Joining me now are two who certainly do know, CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona and Leigh Ann Caldwell, political reporter for The Washington Post.
I mean, the idea of Trump becoming House speaker is not -- maybe some Republicans would like for it to happen. I think it's not going to happen. But it is kind of hard to overstate the level of chaos knowing what is happening in that building behind us and what today means when you step back and look at the fact that Kevin McCarthy, after 269 days, is no longer House speaker and they have no clue tonight who is going to be next.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. It is entirely shocking and stunning and yet it's also completely inevitable. I mean, when you talk to Republicans after that 15 rounds of speaker votes that Kevin McCarthy had to go through, they said this is not going to be good for Kevin McCarthy.
I mean, the fact that he empowered those members to be able to call for a vote to oust him, a single member to be able to oust him, people warned him against that. Members of his own leadership team said this is not a good idea. This is going to be a threat that hangs over your head.
And he fought for months to try to keep this rebellion at bay. But the chickens finally came home to roost today for Kevin McCarthy. And that is the reality that they are now dealing with.
But I will tell you, even though it has only been a few hours, we are already hearing that there are members who are scrambling to shore up support to run to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Steve Scalise, the number two Republican, he is already making calls. He's lining up support. He's starting to get people in his corner. Jim Jordan, he's also entertaining a potential speaker's bid.
So, there are some moves being made behind the scene, but the big picture here is who can get 218? Who can corral that same conference that was responsible for taking out Kevin McCarthy? And that person is going to be take on the same challenges that Kevin McCarthy did.
COLLINS: And maybe even worse. I mean, whoever does get that job, if someone can next week actually get that job, they are facing -- I mean, today, we are 40 days away from the government running out of money again after they just passed that short-term bill, they are going to be facing those same exact hurdles.
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, absolutely. And when Kevin McCarthy was asked tonight what he would recommend to his successor, he actually said, change the House rules. We don't know if that is going to be definitely on the table yet or not, but it gets back to the challenges, the institutional challenges that Kevin McCarthy and others thought were central to the problem here.
But also center to the problem is that there is a right flank of the party who has no interest, really, in funding the government or passing short-term government spending bills. They want to do it at levels that could never pass a Democratic-controlled Senate, that could never get signed by a Democratic president. And so there is a level of lack of realism here.
And so if someone else can do it better than Kevin McCarthy, that is a very high bar. We will see if someone is elected if they are able to do so. And is it because it is less of a personality conflict or if it's actually really a policy conflict?
COLLINS: Yes. And when we had Tennessee Congressman Republican Tim Burchett checked on here earlier, I asked if he favored keeping that motion to vacate with just a one vote margin, and he seemed to vote lean toward the idea of yes, he believes it provides accountability. I mean, I guess we saw their version of that today. Do you expect, Melanie, that Republicans would try to make other concessions of whoever the next House speaker could be?
ZANONA: I mean, listen, if they are going to try to change the motion to vacate, they are going to need Democratic votes to do that. And that was a conversation that I heard some Republicans talking about, saying, depending on today's vote goes, maybe we need to revisit this issue.
But you heard Bob Good talking earlier on our air. He said it, yes, any candidate that is speaker, in order to get my vote, is going to have to make the same commitments that Kevin McCarthy did.
So, it is not clear who is going to be able to lead this caucus and conference better than Kevin McCarthy did or any easier than he did. But, I think to Leigh Ann's point, there was some personal differences between, especially, Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy. They just did not trust Kevin McCarthy. He's made a lot of promises to a lot of different people. Nancy Mace, for example, I think she was a surprising vote tonight, in some ways. But she he had been saying he had made a bunch of promises to her that he didn't keep. And so that's really where the issue is.
COLLINS: And she has been saying that pretty publicly. I mean, he was harshly critical of her. What do the next seven days look like in the building behind us? Does anyone know?
CALDWELL: Well, they actually left town until next Tuesday. So, they are not even going to be here. But what is going to be happening is you have already had different factions of the party starting to meet. There are some groups who met tonight. There are some groups who are meeting tomorrow. And these ideologically similar factions are going to be talking about who they want their next speaker to be. We will see if they are going to be able, if these different parts can come together, to find a consensus candidate. There are five or six names that are being floated out there. As Melanie Zanona said, some of these names are already starting to make news, to do it. But it is going to be a real back-channeling discussion and real fight over who is going to be the next speaker of the House, because they are going to have their first gathering as an entire conference next Tuesday where they're hoping to come to that decision.
COLLINS: And they just had an explosion and an already deeply fractious conference. We will see what that looks like. Leigh Ann Caldwell and Melanie Zanona, great reporting today by both of you and thank you for joining me.
Abby, it's going to be an exciting week for Capitol Hill reporters. Maybe exciting is not the right word.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, well, Look, seven more days or eight more days and no in Congress really doing any more work, really, it's up sorting themselves out, the American people will have something to say about that, I'm sure. Thanks, Kaitlan.
And coming up next for us, it seems that Kevin McCarthy is blaming Democrats for losing his speakership. I will ask one of those Democrats, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, what she thinks of the end of McCarthy's stint as speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): Pursuant to clause 12A of rule one, the chair declares the House in recess subject to the call of the chair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: More on this historic news tonight. The House, for the very first time ever, removing Speaker Kevin McCarthy. So, what comes next for the People's House? And joining me now to discuss this is Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Congresswoman Omar, thanks for joining us.
ILHAN OMAR (D-MN), REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. CONGRESS: Great to be with you.
PHILLIP: So, earlier tonight, the now former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, he essentially blamed Democrats for why he no longer has his job. He says that it was a political decision for Democrats to side essentially with Matt Gaetz today to vote him out of the speakership, and that he seemed to say that that was sort of a wrong decision for Democrats to make because you all voted to keep the government open this weekend. What is your response to that?
OMAR: Well, McCarthy can blame Matt, he can blame Democrats, but at the end of the day, he needs to blame himself. When he was first elected as Speaker, the rule that he agreed to and the deals that he made is ultimately what destroyed his speakership. He decided to say yes to one person bringing a motion to vacate the Chair.
He said yes to so many backroom deals that ultimately made his conference feel like he was a liar. And he made deals with Democrats that he refused to fulfill, which made it hard for any single Democrat to believe in the fact that he was somebody that we can continue to work with.
PHILLIP: So, more Democrats and Republicans provided the votes this weekend to keep the government open. And your colleague, Congressman Jim Clyburn, said that when, you know, McCarthy showed up on the Sunday shows the next day and blamed Democrats for taking the country to the brink. That factored in. What was the reaction in your caucus meeting to McCarthy's comments over the weekend?
OMAR: Yeah, I mean, I remember most of us watching it this weekend, just dumbfounded by the idea of this man who literally needed more democratic votes to pass his own continued resolution that he himself as Speaker brought to the floor and could not provide his own conferences votes to help pass it was on TV talking about how Democrats wanted a shutdown, how Democrats were obstructing, when he only gave us about five minutes to be able to read this continued resolution that he was expecting us to vote for.
People really got a sense of the fact that this is a man who cannot be trusted. This is not somebody you negotiate with. This is not somebody that you can save. And we ultimately understood that Leader Hakeem Jeffries has been freelancing as the Speaker because it was him that helped make sure that we fix the battle around the debt ceiling.
It was him that made sure we put up the votes to stop the country from shutting down. It was him that has been leading the House floor in trying to provide critical and crucial votes to pass anything of substance.
And so, we were unified in saying, we, as Democrats are going to have the back of the leader that we have within our caucus that continuously shows up and leads the way, and we are not going to save a man who has created a mess for himself. It was going to be up to his conference and himself to figure out how to get them out of the chaos they created.
PHILLIP: But aren't you concerned that this process now being back open, would usher in a new Speaker who might be even less palatable to Democrats than McCarthy was?
OMAR: I mean, that's what their worry should be. This is -- this is, again, the mess that they created by agreeing to these rules, passing them, and allowing for so many within their conference to be emboldened to take their speaker out. For Democrats, we know that we have not had Speaker McCarthy be someone whose word we can trust. As you know, there was negotiations with President Biden. There was
negotiations with Chuck Schumer. There were negotiations with Leader Jeffries. All of those promises and negotiations McCarthy reneged on.
And so, for us it's about keeping the integrity of the House. It's about remembering that when you are an elected official, your word is all you've got. People have to be able to trust. What you say is what you will do. And we did not have that kind of partner and a leader that we can believe in, in that kind of way within Speaker McCarthy.
Now, he no longer is the Speaker. He happens to continuously make history in all the wrong ways. We look forward to seeing who they end up choosing, and then we'll make our decision going forward.
PHILLIP: So, CNN is reporting tonight also that Republicans who are on this bipartisan problem solvers caucus, they're threatening to quit the group en masse because they're angry with Democrats, their Democratic colleagues on that problem solvers caucus who didn't bail McCarthy out today. What's your reaction to that?
OMAR: I don't know what problem they expected to solve. You know, I'm not part of the Problem Solvers Caucus. And to me, it looks like they were expecting Democrats to solve the problem that they created for themselves within their conferences. And I think that is not a reasonable expectation if we were having internal issues within our caucus. I don't think a single Democrat would blame Republicans for not helping solve that problem.
And so, it's just tradition that you figure out how to run your own house. In this case, you run your own caucus, you run your own conference, and the majority usually is the one that decides who the Speaker of the House will be. And this majority has failed in that. This majority has failed in governing and this majority has failed in sending a speaker that the people can trust.
PHILLIP: All right, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, thank you very much.
OMAR: Thank you for having me.
COATES: Well, joining me now at the table, Republican Strategist Michael Singleton, CNN's Political Commentator Karen Finney, former Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, and CNN Opinion Contributor Sophia Nelson, former House GOP Investigative Committee Council.
Look, we've all been champing at the bit tonight, reacting to everything. If you could see this panel right now, America, and how we've been reacting to every single interview, it's intense because it's a very intense moment. None of us have seen anything really like this before.
And here we are, Barbara in particular. Look, Republicans look very dysfunctional right now. They're being viewed as if they are punishing McCarthy for bipartisanship this past Saturday. How are you reacting to all this?
BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, this was a MAGA civil war. So, you know, I think once Kevin made a deal with MAGA, you know, this was bound to happen. So, today you saw MAGA at its worst. And you know, you look at the Biden-Harris Twitter feed, it's all filled with little ads that they made with MAGA attacking Republicans today.
So, you know, Matt Gaetz and Nancy Mace and all these guys who, you know, were attacking Republicans today, they provided great father for a Democrat. So, Joe Biden's the winner today. But MAGA also showed how they aren't fit to govern.
While at the same time, Donald Trump was in his trial today, you know, attacking some poor little clerk, showing, you know, MAGA's unfit to be in the judicial branch. So, we only -- the only place MAGA hasn't been doing a horrible job, fortunately, is MAGA's not in the White House right now. Thank goodness.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm going to take it one step further. You know, in 2006, we, Democrats won in the midterms by talking about the Republican culture of corruption. I think we should -- this is the message, the Republican culture of dysfunction and chaos. It starts at the top with Trump. It goes, I mean, just look at what we've seen. We literally have people going home and we have no Speaker of the House.
COATES: I don't want to cut you out, but I want you to expand that.
Because look, what job do most people have where you can say, all right, nothing's going right, everything's going to hell.
FINNEY: You know what? Congress. I'll just have the whole weekend off. But then, but you know what? Now I'm not feeling like doing the job. So, I'm just going to go away for another week. No, nobody can, except for Republican members of Congress, apparently think that this is a good idea.
But you know, here's the other thing we're talking about, you know, all of this blame on Democrats, poor Nancy Pelosi is getting, you know, attacked, you know, Kevin McCarthy is blaming her. She's in California to attend a funeral, by the way for Senator Dianne Feinstein, her very dear friend.
And if you think about it, we keep saying, well, how come Democrats didn't jump in to say Republicans, you know what? Eight Republicans could have joined Democrats and made Hakeem Jeffries the Speaker of the House. So why not that?
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, they wouldn't do that. They wouldn't. Come on. They wouldn't do that. Democrats could have, they could have voted present. They didn't have to show up, but I'm not going to get into why they voted the way they did. We cannot absolve the politics in this. And I understand why. If I were a Democrat, I would have done the same thing. Because if it makes the Republicans look chaotic.
COATES: -- American public understand -- by voting present, it would have lowered the threshold.
SINGLETON: Yes! Absolutely!
UNKNOWN: Yeah, but Laura, I want to hear that point.
SINGLETON: So, it would have lowered the threshold, making it almost impossible for Gaetz and the, what, seven others to be victorious in vacating the Speaker. Democrats had that option. They didn't choose that option.
SOPHIA NELSON, CNN OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: But it's not the Democrats' job. But Karen, it is not the Democrats' job to keep Republicans from killing other Republicans. That's not their job. That's our job --
SINGLETON: I'm not saying it's not their job. I'm just --
NELSON: That's our job to govern and to take our responsibilities seriously.
SINGLETON: I understand that, but I'm saying, politically, they could have. I understand why they didn't, because the message is going to be Republicans are chaotic. They cannot govern. That is a palpable message.
FINNEY: But we didn't do that. You did that. Your vehicle did that.
COATES: Hold on, hold on. Wait, everyone, I said champing at the bit, but we got to talk one at a time. There's a reporter somewhere losing her mind, but it's not me. What's your point?
SINGLETON: So, my point is simply this. I think you have 18 Republicans who are now in districts that flipped to Joe Biden in 2020. Quite a few of them aren't going to likely win next year. You have Matt Gaetz, who for the most part is more than likely going to maintain his same position for whomever becomes Speaker, if it's Steve Scalise, who I think it will become.
In order to change the rules, you're going to have to get Democrats to jump on board with Republicans because it's too late in the process. Now, the Congresswoman can speak to this better than I could. So, more than likely, you're going to have the same issue in the next 45 days if they don't get what they want. And I think that's problematic.
COATES: What's your thought, Congresswoman?
COMSTOCK: On whether they're going to have to join --
SINGLETON: In order to change the rules so that one person can't call to vacate the Speaker, Democrats would have to join some Republicans to do that change.
COMSTOCK: That would be nice if they would do that. And I think there -- you know, you have a lot of these moderates who aren't MAGA people who they've been politely trying to sit there and say, I mean, they've been calling these guys the knuckleheads that they are. And, you know, it's very frustrating for them because they're the
people who are governing. A lot of the people that you saw today, the Bob Goods, the Matt Gaetzes -- these are people who don't pass bills. These are the people who don't want to vote for budgets. They don't want the government open.
These are the people who support Donald Trump, the $8 trillion budget buster guy. So, they're all there whining about the budget. They're the ones who want Donald Trump back in there who doesn't want to cut any budget.
So, they're full of it. And they're all jokers who don't know how to work with anybody. And you wouldn't want them -- you don't want them in Congress. You wouldn't want them near your children. They couldn't, you know, they just are not people who can be adults super, you know - they need adult supervision and they don't know how to run anything.
COATES: Well on that point, Sophia, at this point, there are calls now for Congress and Matt Gaetz to be ousted by some because there's a real criticism happening right now that a select few were able to best a majority of the Republicans.
NELSON: Here's the question. The Republicans have to decide, and I like Steve Scalise, I think you probably do, too, Barbara, I think he could govern. They have to change the rules, but Republicans have to make a fundamental choice in the conference this week, next week, whenever they're talking to each other, and that is that they want to govern. If they want to be bomb throwers and they want to be disruptors, they're doing a great job of that, but it's going to cost them the 2024 House.
I think they're going to get beat badly. Look at the redistricting in New York and other places where those seats you're talking about, I don't think they have a shot anyway and they're making it a lot worse. Then that causes a problem for whoever the nominee is. I don't think it's going to be Trump. I'm going to say that on national TV. I actually think it's going to be some --
COATES: Nominee for the RNC or the Speaker --
NELSON: Yeah, I don't think it's going to be Trump. And I do think people are going to put his name up, by the way, to be Speaker of the House, as well. Look for that to happen, as well.
COATES: So, who is it going to be?
FINNEY: In fact, in January, during two of the 15 rounds of voting, a couple of people did actually write in Donald Trump. But look, I think the Republican Party, the brand of the Republican Party has been so badly damaged by Donald Trump.
And then again, by the impact of what the MAGA wing of the party has done to just the brand of the party. I do just want to take a quick second though, because on the other side of the House, in the Senate. I was honored to be there where we have our third black woman in the United States Senate, Laphonza Butler, was sworn in by the Vice President of the United States of America. So, something positive did happen today. Somebody lost a job and somebody got a new one.
COATES: Well, what a silver lining. Karen Finney, that just would warm my heart for a moment, everyone. Of course, if you're Kevin McCarthy, you're like, thanks, Karen Finney. Everyone, thank you. Stand by for a moment here. There is so much more ahead of our breaking news coverage.
McCarthy, by the way, is saying, forget it. He's not running for Speaker again. But will he resign his seat in Congress? Hear his answers on that in just a moment. Plus, we're getting some breaking news tonight out of Baltimore. Reports of an active shooting at Morgan State University and there are multiple victims. Details ahead.
PHILLIP: Tonight, the judge in Donald Trump's fraud trial is issuing a gag order against the former president. It bans him from speaking publicly about members of the court staff. Now, this is after Trump posted about the court clerk on social media. Here is what he said on his way out of court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'll see you back tomorrow. Good day. We'll see you tomorrow. Good day.
REPORTER: What about the gag order?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I'm back now with my panel. We're joined also now by Westchester County, New York District Attorney, Mimi Rocah. So, Mimi, this is an extraordinary move, I think, by this judge. Lots of people want to put gag orders on Trump. In this case, he decided to do it. Do you see the rationale here?
MIMI ROCAH, WESTCHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Absolutely. I understand why it should be looked at as extraordinary, but first of all, I read, and I don't think it's gotten out there much in the public discourse about this. The judge actually did warn Trump yesterday about this.
So, you know, judges often give warnings and you know, before they issue an order like this, it's also a very narrowly tailored order, right? This is a very specific post that Trump made about an actual person sitting in the courtroom who he, you know, posted personal information about her --
PHILLIP: Who's literally just doing her job. ROCAH: Do -- exactly and that is when you see judges -- that is when you see, you know Merrick Garland on doing interviews and speaking out even more is people who are the public face the judges the Attorney General of the United States, the judge in the federal cases, Jack Smith, that you see the principles, the people who are the public face really taking action and speaking out when he starts to go after the everyday career prosecutors, court clerks, people doing their jobs, because that is not fair to them and it's very dangerous. So, I think this was completely appropriate.
PHILLIP: Yeah, Andrew, this is part of a pattern. If it were just a one-off, it would be one thing. But Trump consistently attacks people who are part of the system, whether it's election workers or courtroom workers. And it almost seems like the intent is to raise the bar for what we think is out of bounds for someone to do when it comes to just what is appropriate behavior.
YANG: Unfortunately, he's done just that over the last seven years. I mean, he's normalized all sorts of bad behavior. He's the leader of this anti-institutional movement that unfortunately has captured the Republican Party. And so, when you look at these judges or clerks trying to do their jobs, they are the representatives of the institutions that Trump in many ways is railing against.
And unfortunately, for a lot of Americans, they don't feel like the institutions have been responding to them over the last number of years. So, his burn it down message has been resonating for years and now unfortunately is no closer to getting any weaker as far as we can tell.
PHILLIP: Jamal, you know, Trump is basically making this a daily campaign press conference. He's out there every single day. He's daring the judge to do something. The judge did something in this case because it was a court officer, but he's literally attacking the judge every day.
SIMMONS: He is, and one way to think about this from the Trump side as a political strategy is they don't really have a lot of other options, right? He can't campaign today because he's got to be in court or he's going to be in court.
So, instead of trying to get around being in the courts, he goes to court, he makes outrageous statements, and then he supplies the dopamine for his people to keep them sort of amped up.
And so, I think what's happened is, like in any other environment, the more he stimulates them, the more he has to do to keep them stimulated in order for them to see him as being the real truth-teller, the only one who's saying the things that nobody else will say.
HUGHES: No, I don't even think it's that strategic. I think he just can't help himself. He loves to call everyone nasty. He is the epitome of nastiness, and he cannot help but attack people personally. It's just, even if it weren't, even when it's not strategic, he can't help it, right? It's like, watch any legal show, watch "Suits" or "Law and Order".
Common sense, you know, the one thing you don't want to do is piss off the judge, right? This is the one thing you don't want to do. But he just cannot help himself when he feels like he can attack and bully someone. He's characterologically a bully.
PHILLIP: So, Mimi, this is just the beginning. You noted it's a pretty limited gag order. What are the consequences if he breaks it, if he ignores it, if he goes any further? What do you expect?
ROCAH: Well, I mean, look, this is a stress test, in my view. All of these cases for the judicial system. Because things that work with people. Ordinary people I'll call them, not people who are running for president, not people who are like Donald Trump in all the ways that we've been talking about. They don't work here.
I think it's more intentional than just he can't help himself. I think he's trying to delegitimize the institutions that can hold him accountable and he's been doing that since 2015, frankly. It's been his strategy all along and he's very good at it and delegitimizing the judge that can hold him accountable.
What the judge is going to do though is, he issues the gag order. There's a very, very high likelihood Trump will violate it in some form. And probably the judge will issue some kind of fine or sanction. You know, prison is not -- most defendants would have been jailed for things like this. But whether a sanction will have any impact, we'll have to see. But that's -- we're stressing the limits of these rules --
PHILLIP: And that is exactly what Trump wants. Mimi, thank you for joining us tonight and everyone else, stand by for us. Laura.
COATES: Well, there is so much more ahead of our breaking news coverage and so many more powerful conversations to be had. The House of Representatives in a historic vote ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy throwing the chamber into chaos and turmoil.