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Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) Last-Ditch Talks Ahead Of Speaker Vote Tomorrow; Idaho Suspect Expected In Court Tomorrow Amid Motive Mystery; Deadly New Year Of War In Ukraine; House Fight For Speaker Intensifies As McCarthy Loses Third Vote; Idaho Suspect Agrees To Be Extradited To Face Murder Charges. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 03, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM and the vote for speaker.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening to you, Wolf. Good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. We are following Kevin McCarthy's failure to lock down the votes that he needed to win that speaker's gavel, Wolf.

BLITZER: That fight plunging the Republican Party right now into a truly historic struggle on the floor. And as of tonight, despite losing three votes, McCarthy remains defiant, refusing to give up, despite a band of now some 20 right-wing lawmakers who remain united, united in opposing the minority leader. The House now adjourning until tomorrow.

BURNETT: And that's the crucial thing, adjourning until tomorrow. What will happen? Can he get the vote? Does he lose? Is it someone else altogether?

Let's begin with, Manu Raju live tonight on Capitol Hill. And, Manu, what is the latest you are hearing in this unprecedented moment from Republicans where you are?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We are where we are from the beginning of the day, at an impasse, a serious impasse, so end in sight, something that could drag or for some time, at least until tomorrow, maybe beyond even that, because the two sides simply are not budging.

McCarthy's allies say that they will stick and stand with him as long as he wants to take this fight. It could go on for many more ballots as long as McCarthy wants to go. And he is indicating so far, Kevin McCarthy is, that he is not going anywhere. He plans to grind this out.

But on the other side, the conservative opposition actually is growing. It went from 19 on one ballot to 20 on the second ballot, and voting for Jim Jordan, who actually supports Kevin McCarthy for speaker. And I actually just caught up with Congressman Jim Jordan and I asked about the push by those conservatives to get him to become elected speaker. He told me he doesn't want the job.


RAJU: Is there any chance that you may be speaker of the House?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): No. Watch yourself. No, I'm being clear. I want to chair the judiciary committee. I mean you guys know, I like this ability to cross-examine witnesses and get the truth for the country. That's what I'm focusing on.

REPORTER: What needs to change between now and when this ends?

JORDAN: Votes, it looks like to me.

REPORTER: So, how do you that though?

JORDAN: I don't know. We're going to work on it. I've got to get back to the office.

RAJU: You guys have more meetings and negotiations tonight, Sir?

JORDAN: Thanks, guys.


RAJU: But there is really no path or no -- it's not certain what that path is for the votes to change. He said the votes need to change, but no one knows how that will happen, because the conservatives who are opposing McCarthy are dead set against him. One of them, Bob Good, told me we are done with Kevin McCarthy. Another one, Matt Gaetz, told me that there's nothing that is going to change from tonight until tomorrow that will get those Republicans to go his way. And others are suggesting perhaps there could be another candidate who could ultimately emerge. There's some talk about Steve Scalise, the number two Republican, ultimately emerging here.

But Scalise himself supports McCarthy and at the moment, giving McCarthy the space. And as long as McCarthy is running here, that means there will be no one that can get to 218 votes assuming those conservatives don't suddenly break ranks and move in his direction.

So, Erin, just a lot of uncertainty, chaos on the first day of the new Congress, the first time in 100 years we're going to multiple ballots. How long it will go is anyone's guess.

BURNETT: I mean, it's unbelievable the chaos that we're seeing. And, Wolf, of course, the big question is, in these next hour and the early hours of tomorrow before they're back in session, does anything change? What happens?

BLITZER: They've got all night to think about that. That's a great question, though.

I want to continue, Erin, our discussion right now with our truly excellent political experts who are here with me in our studio as we're watching all of this unfold.

David Chalian, give us a sense of the history that is unfolding right now. This hasn't happened, what, in about 100 years?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. So, that meets the definition I think of history in the making unfolding before our very eyes. But, it's not -- what we're not seeing is something historic or different inside the Republican Party of the last 15 years. I think we are seeing a perfect illustration of a Republican Party that has been at odds with itself and has not settled this intra-party, intra-family debate. And, clearly, that has not been quelled yet.

That is what Kevin McCarthy is facing today. He's facing something in a bit of his own making. There's no doubt about that. We've heard that from other members. But he is facing a party that just has not been able to come to a conclusion of now a brewing civil war that's been lasting more than a decade.


BLITZER: And now they've had no choice, Abby, but to go into recess, at least until noon tomorrow.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They have to figure this out. And it may not be resolved tonight. They are going to go try to back to the drawing board and figure out where the votes are.

But I think to David's point, this is a crisis of governing for the Republican Party that has been ongoing for about 15 years, figuring out how exactly are they going to run the show. And with a small fraction of people basically saying it's our way or the highway.

And that's held John Boehner hostage, it's held Paul Ryan hostage, and now you're seeing the same thing happening with Kevin McCarthy where this small group does not like the idea of compromise. They don't want to do it. They also don't even like the structure of how their conference operates. They don't like the leadership structure in the House.

And that's extremely problematic for anyone. Maybe it's Kevin McCarthy. Maybe it will be someone else. But I guarantee you that this problem, which is that they don't want to be led, is not going to go away, even if someone is able to get to 218 between now and God knows when.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Jamie, because Kevin McCarthy seems to be losing votes during every ballot.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It is not going in the right direction. It went from 19 to 20. He has not -- it is not going well. Look, to Abby's point, the chaos caucus, as Boehner used to call it, has lived up to its reputation.

And a Republican source, a member who is not in the freedom caucus, told me earlier, I just don't know how he gets there. That's Kevin. The caucus, this group, smell blood. He gave in to demand after demand. None of it was enough.

So, I don't think anything is going to be settled overnight tonight because Kevin McCarthy does not seem ready to give up, but these 19, now 20, don't seem very entrenched as well.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, considering what first John Boehner and then Paul Ryan both did, which was leave this job, it's almost amazing that Kevin McCarthy wants it as bad as he does because whoever does enough actually becoming speaker of the House is also going to have a very sort of tenuous path here.

And this is one of the things I've been sort of thinking about here too that I wonder these rebels who are voting against McCarthy clearly are not prioritizing, maybe they don't understand. When you have a majority in the House of Representatives that's this narrow, if you can't stick together, none of you have any power, right?

The interest that they have is to have a powerful speaker who can control his conference and then actually get things done on the floor. If they don't have that, they're left with the mess that's unfolding on literally the first day of the Congress, before they've tried to do any of the hard work of governing.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But many of them are here to break the glass. That's how they view their jobs. This anti- establishment, anti-institution, anti-governing wing of the Republican Party predates Donald Trump. But like so many other things, he put it on steroid.

They have no loyalty to the Republican Party. They have no loyalty to that beautiful picture right there, the Capitol dome, the institution, the symbol of democracy governing. That's not what they're about. They go on in the mega-media empire silos, which have expanded dramatically over the past six to eight years and talk about fighting the system and bucking the system and Kevin McCarthy doesn't have a spine. And we're not going to favor him and they were celebrated and they raise money and go home to very safe districts where most of them are safe.

So how do you get them? Kevin McCarthy this morning said, I'm going to take away your committee assignments. Well, that would hurt. But these are not people who say, well, my district is farm districts, I want to be on the agriculture committee. I campaign on education, put me on the education committee. You know, Boeing or Northrop Grumman is in my district, put me on the armed services committee. That's not who they are.

That's how you resolve things in the old days. The old days are over. These people don't care about Kevin McCarthy, they don't care about the institution and they think politically this is good for them. They think it's good for them.

So who blinks? Who blinks? He needs 15 or 16 of these 19 or 20 to come back to him. Can he do that overnight? It doesn't look that way. Will he back out? He says he will not. So, we're here tonight. I'm going to guess we're here tomorrow night. This may go on for a while.

BLITZER: And this is, Kaitlan, so embarrassing for the Republican leadership to see this unfold the way it is.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It's complete chaos. And to, Kasie's point, the question is, once they get even past this, whenever that is, what does the rest of the Republican majority look like? I think we're getting a pretty good indication of that.

And Kevin McCarthy is in an incredibly precarious position right now. This is not how he thought the day was going to go. This morning, his allies were out on television. They were on CNN saying, if it's one vote or 100, they are going to be with Kevin McCarthy for this.

He is about 4:45, wanted them to keep voting. He did not want them to adjourn. They have now adjourned. So, the question is what changed for Kevin McCarthy between now and then and what is he going to do over the next 18 hours to try to peel off those votes.


It seems really unlikely he's going to get there. So, the question is what are they going to do next.

I will say, I spoke with one of his allies who is voting for him, Brian Fitzpatrick, this morning. He said, he thinks, if there is going to be an alternative to him, if they do finally get to that bridge, it's not going to be someone inside the House of Representatives. He thinks it will be someone outside.

PHILLIP: Well, the other thing is that the McCarthy strategy has proven to be a failure. They thought that they could just grind folks down and that just the sheer exhaustion of it all would cause the opposition to diminish. When that didn't happen, it necessitated a change of strategy. They have to go back to the negotiating table. And they're going to have to scrape up some concessions.

I don't know what is left, but I do think that -- I mean, we spoke earlier in the night to Chip Roy, who was one of those Republicans who voted against McCarthy and for Jim Jordan. And he has some things that he wants. So, it's a question, are they gettable and will those bring other vote along, they're going to be working through some of that tonight and tomorrow.

KING: What is critical -- I'm sorry, David, It's critical what Abby just said though. The people who thought they were going to run the House clearly have a fundamental misunderstanding of the people in the House. They thought they were going to grind them down or they thought that a bunch of Democrats were going to get tired and leave and reduce the threshold. Well, they've been wrong. These are the people that want to run the House. They want to run an institution of the United States government. They are fundamentally wrong about the company, if you will, that they want to lead.

CHALIAN: Yes. And that, to answer Kaitlan's question, is what's changed, right? It's the actual reality of what we've seen play out on the floor of the House all day long. That has changed. The psychology has changed. Now, it's not the side that Kevin McCarthy thought was going to be ground down. Perhaps it's his allies that are starting to feel that they're being ground down a little bit as they're waiting this out.

This is the nature of speaker races in general. There's a psychology on the floor that does take place with each of them. Of course, we're in a whole new world here, none of us were alive 100 years ago, to see it go to multiple ballots. But I think what is -- Kevin McCarthy's task tonight it seems is either find a path to 218 or find a path out of the race. I don't see a third option for him at this point.

HUNT: No, there isn't third option for him. And I think the reality here, too, is, remember, a big part of what's driving, as John has said repeatedly today, these rebels, is the conservative media ecosystem that has arisen that allows many of these members to have a platform that their leadership just can't control. And that's all going to be full speed between now and noon tomorrow.

And, really, anything I think can happen. We could see candidates emerge and disappear again as quickly as they surfaced. We could see a coalescing around somebody new. I think the possibility that we will learn a lot tonight is actually very high, especially because, I mean, this was kind of a brute threat on McCarthy's part, right? It's go to the floor, put your money where your mouth is, actually vote against me. In the past, it's been hard for members to do that. And they just showed, you know what, actually no, not so hard.

BLITZER: So, John, what does this tell us about how the new, very thin Republican majority in the House is going to be operating over the next couple of years?

KING: Everything. It tells you everything. You have a very narrow majority. They can't even pick a leader. They can't come together to get an overwhelming number. They understand how narrow the majority is. They watched Nancy Pelosi do this. She had opposition in her caucus. She had resistance in her caucus, she figured it out. Kevin McCarthy has not been able to figure it out. Again, you have to lead the institution. You're the CEO of House Republicans.

Also it's just the snapshot of the Republican civil war that's going today. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, gave a speech celebrating he is now the longest serving Senate leader. He said he's a principled conservative but he says sometimes you have to cut a deal with the other time. Sometimes you have to negotiate with the other side.

Tomorrow, Mitch McConnell is going to be in Kentucky, his own state, with the president of the United States and the Republican governor of Ohio, celebrating bipartisan infrastructure spending. So, Mitch McConnell is essentially flipping the bird at the House Republican way of doing things. Forgive my language. But that was he's doing. He's flipping the bird at the House Republican way of doing things.

So, this is -- yes, it's about Kevin McCarthy. This is personal between the rebels and Kevin McCarthy. It's not about policy. It's not about committee assignments. They think that he has no spine, that any deal he cuts with them today, he will flip on them tomorrow. But it's also about are you a governing conservative or are you a break-the- glass Republican, and the break-the-glass Republicans, why where this going to go, at least a second turn (ph).

BLITZER: And let's not forget the stakes are enormous right now because the new House of Representatives can't really do anything until there is a speaker of the House. That's right. You can't do anything until there is a new speaker of the house, and that speaker second in line to the presidency. So, the stakes really are enormous.

Our continuing coverage of the vote for speaker of the house will resume in a moment.


Up next we'll go live to Capitol Hill. New details emerging right now on what Republicans are saying tonight about McCarthy's path forward.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, I'll speak with Buffalo bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins. He's Damar Hamlin's teammate. What he has heard about Hamlin's condition after collapsing on the field last night.


BURNETT: Welcome back to our special edition of The Situation Room and the vote for speaker, Congressman Kevin McCarthy failing to win the speakership after three attempted ballots.

Let's go now to Melanie Zanona live from Capitol Hill. And, Melanie, obviously adjourned and then they're going to come back. So, right now, I know you're reporting there, there are meetings going on. What have you found out from your sources?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. So, it's really back to the drawing board for both Kevin McCarthy's supporters and for his critics. We're told that a bunch of supporters just walked into Kevin McCarthy's office. They're having a meeting right now to try to figure out a resolution or a path forward.


Now, it's unclear what that would look like, whether that includes giving even more concessions to the right flank or if it involves continuing the strategy of what we saw today, which is just keep going through vote after vote and hoping to wear the critics down or if it involves trying to team up with Democrats in some way and getting them to try to vote present or to not show up.

Well, sources told us that there have been some early conversations among rank and file members from Democrats and Republicans about that idea. Now, it's still very far off, but it does speak to how they're really grasping for straws about a way forward.

And then meanwhile, you have McCarthy's opposition and they say, they feel emboldened after this vote. They were the ones who initially were pushing for the motion to adjourn. They also noted that on the third ballot, they picked up another member on their side, another person flipped, that was Byron Donalds, who initially had voted for McCarthy, and by the third ballot, he voted against McCarthy. So, they feel strengthen. They say they are not backing down on their opposition. They say they're ready to go as long as it takes. So, we are still at this point a stalemate, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Melanie, thank you very much.

All right, so here we are, Congressman Dent. You hear what she just said, that they're even now talking about possibly, do you team up with Democrats? And there's no evidence that any such thing is happening. But, I mean, to think that we are at the moment where these conversations are even happening, that it is such complete chaos, it's stunning.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is stunning. And the fact that, I don't know what he's going to be able to give to these 20 folks that he didn't try to give them over the past year.

BURNETT: When she was -- Melanie was talking about more concessions?

DENT: Yes, I mean, concessions. I mean, he'll never be able to give them enough. I mean, it's time to stop appeasing them, time to stop feeding the crocodiles. And right now, I think that they really have to think hard because these 20 folks are stubborn. They are not going to back down, in my view. I don't know, unless they'll get pressure at home that's going to make them change their minds but I don't think they're going to change their minds.

And Kevin's supporters are going to have to start thinking about other options. This only-Kevin plan may not be sustainable for longer.

BURNETT: So, you've got the Republicans meeting. And you also, I would imagine, Congressman Jones, have Democrats meeting now to decide what to do, right? Do they lower they threshold, vote not present or something to help him out tomorrow? Or do they -- okay, there we go. You don't even have to answer.

FORMER REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): They have no incentive to do that.

BURNETT: So, what are they talking about doing?

JONES: Well, I think they're talking tonight about going to their swearing in ceremonies, the private ones that they've created, and also spending time with family members who thought that they would get to witness, their relatives get sworn into Congress today. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be true.

I've got to say, I've spent a lot of time these past few years hearing equivalencies drawn between folks who want to shut down the government and folks who want to give health care to everybody. But let me tell you, you've never seen Democrats do like what we saw today, not elect a leader of their party. And that just speaks to the modern day Republican Party not being interested in actually having a federal government, I think.

BURNETT: It is stunning, though, David. In these hours, 6:22 P.M. Eastern, people are flooding into McCarthy's office, his supporters, do you know who your speaker is? Okay. So -- but what does happen tonight, and tomorrow morning, right, before they come back into session?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I am curious as to why McCarthy did an about-face and decided to go for the adjournment. And I suspect that he and his supporters, and particularly his supporters came to the conclusion that this is -- we're just going to be banging our head against the wall here and we better regroup and decide if there's a path forward. And if not, what is the next alternative? Because, right now -- I mean, it's so interesting. If six months ago Kevin McCarthy had this day in mind and it was going to be a celebration, a new Republican majority --

BURNETT: Oh, a red wave, yes.

AXELROD: A different direction and it turns out to be a goat rodeo. I mean, he just doesn't -- it is chaos, and he has lost control. And it is, in fact, payback. It is the seeds that he's sowed for the last six years, seven years, trying to appeal to placate the most strident voices in his party, including Donald Trump, to the point where they take everything he's given them but nobody trusts him.

And now it's very hard to repair that. I don't see -- I mean, he may -- I'm not a number of the body. Charlie was there. I find it hard to see how he comes back from this. I really do.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, even if he's able to chip away at this hard core 20 people, what kind of speaker is he going to be, right? Incredibly weakened, he's given so much power to these folks. They will likely every day hold this over him. They could jack his -- take his speakership away from him.

BURNETT: Yes. We can see this on every piece of legislation.

HENDERSON: Exactly. They could hold up legislation. They could threaten his speakership. So, he looks worse now than he did when he started the day.


He had no idea the day was going to go as horribly as it did. And so now there's this adjournment and starting over.

BURNETT: So, Congressman, does it seem like he has the come in tomorrow and either they figured it out and he's got it and no one sees a path to that or somebody around him has to tell him, look, enough is enough? And what clearly is his most passionate dream in his life, which is getting to speakership, is going to be out of his grasp. Who is the person who tells him that?

DENT: Well, it's going to have to be some of his most loyal supporters, we're going to have to sit him down and tell him the hard truth, if in fact he can't get to 218. Look, I'm not saying he can't get there. I don't see the path forward right now. It seems that these 20 are dug in and they're not going to move. But it's going to come from his supporters at some point or going to have to tell them, we need to move on for the good of the institution, for the good of the country and for the good of the party.

Now, that's a hard conversation to have but I suspect that will have to happen. It may not happen tomorrow. It could take a few more days.

HENDERSON: Which means there's no Congress. They're not getting anything done. These new members aren't being sworn in.

JONES: There're no rules package, there's no appointments to committees.

BURNETT: You can't do anything without a speaker, right? That is essential to the operation of government.

DENT: One thing John Boehner used to tell me, he said, look, if you don't have to -- as speaker, if you don't have 218 votes, you don't have crap. He didn't use the word crap. But I'm just saying that's true. If you don't have 218 votes to elect the speaker, that means you're not going to have 218 votes to do just about anything you need to do. And that's -- so you can't be very good and effective.

BURNETT: But this will get more chaotic, is I think what were saying here. If you don't come in at the beginning tomorrow with a solution, then this could make today look kind of like, oh, that was just beginning.

AXELROD: Well, I think the longer it goes, the more absurd and disturbing it looks. But the bigger point is whatever happens here, the way the Republican caucus is structured now where the tail can wag the dog and these very strident voices can have such leverage, especially if they adopt the rules that Kevin McCarthy has agreed to, where they have a sort of Damocles hanging over the speaker's head and can call for the speaker to be removed at any juncture, this portends a very difficult couple of years for the country, frankly, and certainly for the Republican Party.

JONES: When people have those conversations with Kevin McCarthy, which I suspect may begin tonight, about how he doesn't have the votes to get there, I don't think that Steve Scalise and Elise Stefanik can be among those people having those conversations with him. I think if Scalise is smart, he's going to let other people rally for him and have those conversations. So that when those conversations are ultimately had with Kevin McCarthy, he's not suspicious of the origin.

HENDERSON: Yes. And he's sort of been working quietly behind the scenes to assume the speakership if need be. In the meantime he's been a very loyal supporter of McCarthy. You saw the nominating speech, which is sort of a nominating speech for Steve Scalise and not for McCarthy.

DENT: A fundamental problem, though, around here that I always felt for a long time that the Republican leadership spent way too much time trying to accommodate many members who weren't going to vote for the bills that needed to get done. They're constantly taking input and guidance from people who weren't there for them. That's what's happened. That's where we are again. I mean, this is just a more proof of it. BURNETT: And it is incredible here, as we -- the beginning of a long night, maybe not a night obviously in session, but a very long night for Kevin McCarthy and the GOP.

So, coming up, we're going to stay on top of this fight for House speaker. Obviously the meetings continue as we speak in McCarthy's office one right now. The House will be back in session tomorrow after McCarthy failed to secure the speakership.

But, first, we are learning more about the condition of Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills player who collapsed on the field during last night's nationally televised NFL game against the Bengals, a horrible moment. And Wolf is going to speak exclusively with Hamlin's teammate on Bills, offensive tackle Dion Dawkins.



BURNETT: We'll get back to the breaking news in just a few moments. We're talking about the fight for House speaker and the next round of voting now delayed until tomorrow.

But, first, another major story we're following here in The Situation Room, the condition of Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin. The 24-year- old is in critical condition tonight after suffering a cardiac arrest and collapsing on the field during last night's game in Cincinnati. We'll speak exclusively to Hamlin's teammate Dion Dawkins. There you see him. He's standing by live.

But, first, CNN National Correspondent Ryan Young has new details.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, as fans in Buffalo pray for Bills Safety Damar Hamlin --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our prayer is that God heals Damar Hamlin now.

YOUNG: -- the Bills revealing in a new update Tuesday that Hamlin remained in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at a Cincinnati Hospital, where stunned fans gathered to show support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to pull through. That's why we're here praying for it.

YOUNG: Hamlin still fighting for his life, nearly 24 hours after this unprecedented scene on the field. The team saying he went into cardiac arrest after a collision during a routine tackle.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be a condition that is rare known as commotio cordis, which is basically a blow to the chest and to the heart. That actually causes the heart to go from pumping blood, as it normally does, to the heart muscle actually quivering or fibrillating.

YOUNG: Fellow players surrounding and shielding him through minutes of CPR.


The team says his heartbeat restored before an ambulance took him off the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen anything like this.

YOUNG: All this playing out live before the game was postponed an hour later.

GEORGE MARTIN, FORMER PRESIDENT, NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: To see these big strapping strong football players shed tears over a situation like that, that speaks volumes. Secondly, I think when you look at how it permeated the entire stadium, the people were silent. They were respectful. They were all concerned.

YOUNG: That postponement became indefinite today with the NFL announcing it, quote, informed the clubs that the Bills/Bengals game will not be released this week. The NFL saying in an overnight conference call, that resuming play after the event was never an option.

TROY VINCENT, NFL EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, FFOOTBALL OPERATIONS: We never, frankly, it never crossed our mind to talk about warming up to resume play. That's ridiculous. That's insensitive.

YOUNG: While some players returned to New York, others remained in Ohio with their teammate. The NFL Players Association offering every resource available for players of both the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

RODNEY MCLEOD JR., INDIANAPOLIS COLTS SAFETY: For us, the dream is real but the dream, even though we understand the dream comes with great sacrifice, we never want that sacrifice to be paid from the expense of anyone's life.

YOUNG: Hamlin's family releasing a statement today thanking the teams, fans and the medical staff for the love and support shown to Damar.

JORDON ROONEY, DAMAR HAMLIN'S FRIEND AND MARKETING REP: He has a strong family. He has the ideal support system. They're optimistic.

DAMAR HAMLIN, BUFFALO BILLS SAFETY: Everyone is rooting for me.

YOUNG: Hamlin was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2021 after playing college football at Pittsburgh, a relative newcomer only beginning his NFL career.

HAMLIN: You never know when like the last day can be that you get to experience something like this, some just -- I'm cherishing it every moment I can.


YOUNG (on camera): It's been interesting to see the sports world react to this. So, Wolf, I know you're a big Buffalo Bills fan. Bills mafia has been all throughout the city. We talked to some fans who said they just felt silent last night inside that stadium. They could feel the pain amongst everyone else.

I can also tell you just in the last ten minute, our Adrienne Broaddus talked to a man who said he was a member of the family. And they were just talking about how, one, they want to make sure people understand the impact this young man was having in his own community, but at the same time, this entire family feels the prayers from across the country because, obviously, there's so many people who have been reaching out to share their love. There was even a prayer service here in town today centered around this.

So many people asking questions about what can be done to make players more safe, but at the same time, understanding this seems like something that no one could have ever expected and something they'll never forget. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right. We are all praying for Damar. We've been praying all, since it happened last night and continue to play right now. Ryan, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on. We have an exclusive interview right now with Damar Hamlin's teammate on the Buffalo Bills, the offensive tackle, Dion Dawkins. Dion, thanks so much for joining us. Have you heard anything about how Damar is doing tonight? And how are you and the team doing?

DION DAWKINS, BUFFALO BILLS OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Well, first, the team is doing what we can. It's a lot of sad clouds and a lot of happy spirits, a lot of happy prayers. But we are all devastated. Like when things like this happen, it's a shock to all of us. It's a dramatically unique thing that has happened. We're all going through it together. And, honestly, the entire world is.

Everybody like that has seen it, our whole country, every football fan, everybody who is not even a part of football has seen and heard this story. So, we're all handling it in different ways. But it is a unique situation.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a heartbreaking situation indeed. Dion, you played in last night's game in Cincinnati. When did you first realize something was horribly, horribly wrong?

DAWKINS: Well, when everybody's emotion on the football field, like I seen Trey turn around, I seen Dane sprint over towards him. Dane is one of his best friends and they're both Pittsburgh guys. And then you kind of look around and you kind of see the medical staff doing their job.

And you know, like when it's something minor, like somebody is down but they're sitting up, like guys are moving but like at a nice pace. But like when things like this are going on, like when they're waving really fast and calling guys onto the field and calling for the elite medical staff, that's like when you really like realize that something is really, really wrong. And this was one of the first experiences for myself where something like this has happened in this type of way, where it silenced an entire stadium like that was at an uproar a half a play earlier.


BLITZER: Yes, that was so, so heartbreaking. I was watching Monday night football. Of course, as you know, I'm a huge Buffalo Bills fan.

We saw the emotion on the players' faces, these grown men, huge men like you crying. Damar was getting medical treatment on the field. The ambulance was right there on the field. What was goings through your mind, Dion, at that moment alongside your teammates?

DAWKINS: So many things, Wolf. In that moment, like you kind of just realize like you really can't take anything for granted. And looking at a teammate, a brother like on the ground, it's just a drastic state. And understanding that, like all of the things that we have gone through this entire year from the start to now, it has been just constant beating for Buffalo.

And then to see a brother laying down and everyone else just kind of just come on, come on, come on, get up, get up, and all of those drastic emotions that are pouring out, just seeing him, and when we can't physically do anything to help him and letting our trainers and our doctors, that did such a great job, I mean, just to even speak about that, right?

Like I'm so blessed and our organization is so blessed to have a team that we had at that moment, to do everything that they can to get Damar at a state, that he can get off of that field in that ambulance and to the hospital. I am extremely thankful for Nate and Denny and all of those guys that did what they did. Dr. Hasan (ph), all of those guys that were there. But like in that moment, like you are just thinking, what can I do? What can we do?

And then it immediately just breaks you down into prayer, like whether you're a believer or not. Only a higher power can really take control of what is next. And our people that help also assisted that higher power. But it was -- it was just in that moment where you kind of just have to be vulnerable and let prayer just go up and work its magic.

BLITZER: I think it's fair to say they saved his life.

I see, Dion, you're wearing a Chasing Ms hat. That's Damar's foundation, the charitable foundation. There's been an outpouring of donations to his toy drive, fundraiser for poor kids, $5 million overnight and counting right now. He wanted start it off with about $2,500. But what does that say about the impact beyond the football field?

DAWKINS: It just shows that the world can come together. Like there's been a lot of like negativity, a lot of hate, a lot of bad things like that have been going on. And with something like this that the world has felt, like the world has felt Damar. He's out there playing that game that he's loved. He's worked his whole life to get to the NFL. He's there. He's been playing at a high level. And his play and his emotion and who he is as a person has shown the world and has shocked the world of care. And everybody has just gravitated towards him and gravitated in a beautiful, peaceful manner.

And the money that is pouring in, it is beautiful. But as many dollars that are pouring in, like we need as many prayers, because dollars go but prayers flow. And the more and more and more that is happening, it's just a beautiful horizon.

And Damar is a fighter. And he's fighting, and he's going to keep fighting. And we know our teammate. And he is one of the strongest guys. So, like he's going to keep fighting, and he's going to make it. And he's going to keep pushing and keep pushing because that's what we're all built for and that's what he's been built for, to fight.


So when things like this happen, Wolf, it just shows, like, for all other people that are quick to go on twitter and talk about, oh, he should have caught that pass or he missed a tackle or he dropped the ball or he missed that block or he could have did this better, like, all of us, and especially Damar, we're out there giving our lives to this game. Any split second which this event has showed, it can be this or this. It could be a plus or a minus.

Not one second of our life is promised. With this play, it is showing that, that one play later it has taken Damar, a 24-year-old man to his knee, and he's fighting.

And for everybody that thinks, oh, it's about a fantasy point or my draft -- whatever. This is real life. This is real life. We go out there and we risk our life every day for the entertainment of the world, which we understand.

But for the people that are watching, just understand that this is real. Football is real. It takes 100 percent to play this game, and we give it our all.

He gives it his all. He's given it his all. He's still giving it his all to this second. And we're here with him.

BLITZER: We certainly are -- he's an amazing young men.

The NFL, Dion, says the bills and the Bengals won't resume last night's postponed game this week.

Is the NFL in your view doing everything it can to prioritize Damar?

DAWKINS: I think -- think so. I am -- I'm truly blessed that we didn't have to keep playing. We don't control that, and the fact that we were able to take a step back and process everything that was happening, and they kind of put our emotions and our feelings and our person in that favor.

Like these individuals matter, and they did not force us to go back out there and play. That shows. I know there was patterns to it, but the fact we didn't have to go back out there on that field and play, it just shows that there is care.

That's all we can ever ask for, is that we get treated as people. Like most people just treat us as athletes and as superstars. Some people like celebrities.

But in that moment, they treated us like people. Being treated as a person that is cared for, it's a beautiful feeling. I'm thankful that I was treated as a person and so was the rest of my teammates, because at the end of the day, Wolf, we are people, and we have feelings, we have emotions.

We cry. We hurt. And we have families, and they hurt and they cry. And we're individuals that are imperfect and the world wants us to be perfect. And thankful that the NFL has definitely put us first.

BLITZER: Very well-said, indeed.

Dion Dawkins, you're one of my heroes, as you know because -- not necessarily because you're a great offensive lineman, you are. But because of what you do to help people in Buffalo. You've been outspoken. You've been a champion for change as we say in going out there and helping the families of the victims who were massacred at that Tops Supermarket. We're grateful to you as well. So many Buffalo Bills have been doing things like that. We're thankful for you for all you're doing.

Dion, thanks so much for coming in and helping us appreciate the enormity of what happened last night.

DAWKINS: Thank you, as always. Wolf, I truly love you. I'm thankful. As you know, we need everybody, Wolf, and you're a huge part of the culture. You're a huge part of this world and everything that goes on politically truly.

So just keep the faith. Keep telling people to pray, and we're Chasing M's, and we're chasing M's for Damar now.


DAWKINS: And I'm going to have this hat on until I see my dog. I appreciate you and I love you.

BLITZER: I love you, too, Dion. Thanks so much for all you're doing. Give my love to all my fellow Buffalonians. As you know, I grew up in Buffalo. It's my hometown, and I love the Buffalo Bills as well.


Dion Dawkins, keep up the great work. Thanks so much for joining us.

DAWKINS: Thank you, brother.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Erin, this is a powerful, very emotional story, especially for those of us who grew up in Buffalo. BURNETT: Just to hear him speak like that. Wolf, about you, too, I

think so many are moved by that.

Well, of course, that story is such a huge one as we're covering what's going on in Washington. There has been a development in that front while Wolf was speaking there. Republican Congressman Ralph Norman who is opposing Kevin McCarthy for speaker says that he is willing to meet with McCarthy tonight. That is obviously important. Also, though, he says he will continue to support Jim Jordan for speaker. So, we'll see.

When asked how long he's willing to go to oppose McCarthy, Norman said, quote, six months.

Joining me now Republican Congressman David Valadao of California who is supporting McCarthy for speaker. And I'll also note, of course, that you voted to impeach former President Trump over January 6th, something that I understand Congressman McCarthy backed you on and supported you on.

So let me ask you, because I know you have known him for a long time. What is his thinking right now as you understand it, Congressman?

REP. DAVID VALADAO (R-CA): What is Kevin McCarthy's thinking?


VALADAO: Well, Kevin McCarthy's going to fight until the very end. This is something we've all encouraged him to do. It's something we've been telling him for weeks if not months. Just over the last few weeks, and even this morning, his comments in conference were very strong and very much to the point where he's not backing down.

BURNETT: So, when you all come back in session tomorrow, does that mean you'll go vote after vote after vote? I mean, what does it mean he's going to fight until the end?

VALADAO: Well, like many of us have said, if it's one vote, if it's a thousand votes. And, obviously, we're already at three. So, it's going to at least number four. But, ultimately, we got to keep doing what we're supposed to do.

And our commitment to Kevin McCarthy, a lot of us in the conference, because over 200 of us have been voting for him, is to continue to vote for him no matter how many times it takes. And McCarthy has stood with us and said, and he's willing to be up there and take the arrows for us as we continue to support him.

BURNETT: Okay. So, in that front, you're say you're willing to give a thousand votes. It doesn't sound like you're thinking about anything else at this point.

What is your reaction to what Congressman Norman just said? He opposes McCarthy, he is meeting with him, but saying he will support Jim Jordan as speaker and he'll go, quote, six months to oppose McCarthy I'm not sure exactly what he means when he says that. But what's your reaction when you hear something like that, okay, he's

willing to meet with him, but he still is not going to support him?

VALADAO: So, this is the problem that we've been dealing with for a while. We went through a whole rules conference and package. We debate, people offer amendments. Most of those amendments were adopted.

We've had our meetings. We've had our conference. We've had our negotiations. The rules package passed with unanimous support.

But when we get down to the nitty-gritty today, they still get up and say they're opposed but they don't come up with a direct reason why they are opposed. And there was a little bit of a confrontation in conference today where McCarthy straight up asked, hey, what do you want? What's it going to take? And no one could give an answer.

Well, they pointed to some letter that was written back in December. But changes have been made since then. And, okay, what's it going to take? And they did not want to answer the question, no direct question.

And the whole conference, all the Republicans in the room started to yell, what do you want? And they do not give us an answer. And, so, I don't think they have an argument. And they're nominating a person that doesn't even want the nomination. The person that actually got up and spoke in support of Kevin McCarthy.

BURNETT: So, obviously talking about Jim Jordan there. But here is the reality of the situation. If they aren't going to vote yes, if they're not going to get there, then there's no way for him to get there unless you do some sort of team-up with Democrats.

Is that -- is that even on the table, in your mind?

VALADAO: No, it's not. I think the Democrats are enjoying this. I think Joe Biden is enjoying watching this. I really do.

And I think that a lot of this small group of Republicans -- and it's a very small group of Republicans -- are actually giving the Democrats a win here. And I think they're enjoying it, and I don't think they're going to give us a life line.

And the reality is, when we voted, it was near unanimous, 85 percent for McCarthy. He is the Republican conference's nominee, and people should fall in line.

They got a lot of concessions that they wanted, stuff that even some of us weren't happy with. But they still aren't happy and they can't give us what they want now. They want to be no.

BURNETT: Is there any scenario where you would vote for anyone else, Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise, anybody, if they just simply aren't going to get there, and the math is not going to get there for you, do you switch? VALADAO: No, absolutely not. I'm with the group of 200 who are supporting McCarthy, the person that's travelled the country, the person that's worked harder than anyone else to be in this position. And we wouldn't even be in the majority if he wasn't -- if Kevin McCarthy working so hard across the country, helping candidates like myself be successful and get through the finish line in November.


BURNETT: Well, I appreciate your time, Congressman. Thank you very much.

VALADAO: Any time. Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Valadao as we said, from California, has known McCarthy for a long time and he's a big backer of his.

And just ahead, an update on the brutal Idaho college student murders. The suspect in this case now agreeing to be extradited from Pennsylvania to face murder charges. We'll be back with the developments there.


BLITZER: New developments tonight in the Idaho quadruple murders. A key hearing today for the suspect who waived his extradition from Pennsylvania and will soon head back to Idaho to face criminal charges.

CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us live right now from Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania right outside the courthouse there. She's got details.

What else can you tell us, Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I was in the courtroom, and I was sitting right behind the defendant's family. They walked through a back door, highly emotional, affected by this. His mother especially, and she was just shaking almost in that front seat.

When he walked in, he scanned his family but looked at his father, acknowledged his father, didn't smile, kept looking back at his family, specifically his father, scanning it. The judge took command of the courtroom, wanted to know if this was freely and voluntarily waived, if there was coercion, anyone forcing him to do this.

Time after time he had to say, no, I am doing this voluntarily, kept responding to the judge. When she said, you are going back to Idaho to face murder charges, his mother really collapsed into the shoulder of her daughter.

Now, while this was happening, the paperwork was signed, it was a done deal. Court was over.

CNN has confirmed that on the trip from Washington to Pennsylvania, his father driving him, there are pictures of the Indiana state police pulling them over two different times. Bryan Kohberger is driving once for speeding. Once for following too

close. We have confirmed those reports are accurate, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Jean Casarez, I know you're staying on top of this story. Thank you very, very much.

And, Erin, I know we're going to turn back to our top story right now, the bitter fight for speaker of the House.