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House Returning To Session Soon As Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Seizes Momentum; Biden Honors Heroes Two Years After January 6th Insurrection; Affidavit Reveals Chilling Details About Idaho Murders; Bills: Damar Hamlin's Breathing Tube Removed, Now Able To Talk; Soon: House Returns To Session Amid Historic Speaker Fight. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 06, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, Kevin McCarthy trying to seize the momentum right now in the fight for the speakership. The House is preparing to return to session at 10:00 P.M. Eastern tonight, after two very dramatic votes saw the Republican leader flip more than a dozen hardliner holdouts coming up just short of a majority.

All of these as the country marks the second anniversary of the January 6thth insurrection. President Biden honoring the defenders of democracy in a very solemn and moving ceremony over at the White House today, including several police officers brutally attacked while holding off the mob at the Capitol.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get straight to the breaking news right now, the momentum in the speaker's race swinging heavily toward House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. Our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is joining us live from Capitol Hill right now. Manu, I understand you are getting new information.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, intense discussions happening behind the scenes as Kevin McCarthy is confident that tonight is the night he will finally become elected speaker after 13 failed votes, the first time there has been a multiple ballot election for a House speaker in a century, the longest time there's been a number of ballots in any speaker's race since the mid 1800s.

But Kevin McCarthy believes he is finally there. They are planning to vote tonight at 10:00 P.M. They are holding a vote late in order to allow two members who supported him, who are out of town, to come back into town. And there's also an effort to convince a number of holdouts to go his way. We are learning that Kevin McCarthy and his team are urging a number of their -- these holdouts to vote not for him but to vote, quote, present. In order do that, that could actually help McCarthy by lowering the threshold of what actually would -- the required number of votes he would need to be elected speaker. Ordinarily, you need 218 votes but that number decreases if a member person votes present. That's because the rules of the House say a majority of the House -- who ever the winner of the speaker's race wins the majority of the vote of the full House of individuals who are voting for a specific candidate. So, if you vote present, that lowers the threshold, potentially as low as 217, potentially as lower as 216. And he won in his last ballot 214 after flipping a number of holdouts who had been voting against him for some time.

Now, if Kevin McCarthy emerged after he failed on that last vote. He told me, yes, he has the votes in order to be elected tonight. And then he said -- he put a positive spin, this long drawn out fight and said it would ultimately help him govern.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think you saw we made very good progress. We will come back tonight. I believe at that time, we will have the votes to finish this once and for all. It just reminds me of what my father told me. It's not how you start, it's how you finish. And now we have the finish for the American public.

REPORTER: What was the turn around? What was the breaking point in these negotiations?

MCCARTHY: I think getting together and just finding the ability to how we all are going to work together. It's new for us, one being in the majority, but being in a tight majority. I think at the end of the day, we're going to be more effective, more efficient and definitely government is going to be more accountable.

REPORTER: Sir. So 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 part. Because it too being this long, now we learned how to govern. So, now we will be able to get the job done. Thank you all very much. See you later.


RAJU: So, how the vote actually turns out tonight is still a bit of a mystery. Two of the members who have been holdouts, Eli Crane, as well as Matt Rosendale, Rosendale, declining to comment about whether he would vote for McCarthy. Crane himself told our colleague that, no, he will not vote for Kevin McCarthy. So, there's some questions about how the ultimate makeup will be.

But, Wolf, behind the scenes, there have been of these negotiations over providing concessions to the hard right of the House -- of the House Republican conference. Some of those concessions include issues involving spending, to try to limit federal spending, to levels from a couple of years ago, as well as providing some of these members with more leverage and more say over the legislative process.

And one major issue they have got Kevin McCarthy to agree to a national debt limit increase that would be tied to spending cuts. [18:05:07]

And that is hugely significant, because this year, they have to try to avoid a debt default. Democrats are going to oppose any efforts to cut spending in monetary spending, a mandatory. If they agreed to do just that with this deal, major policy implications assuming Kevin McCarthy gets the job tonight.

BLITZER: Significant development unfolding right now. Manu Raju, we will get back to you. I know you are continuing to work your sources.

Let's discuss what's going on right now with a key supporter of Kevin McCarthy, Republican Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us on this very historic and very, very busy day. What's your reaction, first of all, to Manu's latest reporting, we just heard it, the new strategy to get some holdouts not necessarily to vote for McCarthy but to simply vote present?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R-OH): Yes. It's an honor to join you, Wolf, and your viewers. And, look, hopefully, there's a graceful exit for these people. Clearly, we found a way to provide a broader consensus for our governing coalition as a result of this process. Ideally it would have been done ahead of January 3rd. But the up side for the American population and, frankly, the world is you see a little bit of how this is done, it's a little bit more collaborative than I think a lot of people realize.

And so we really do have a consensus on how we can move forward. Hopefully, that means we can move at a faster pace than we would have otherwise been able to do. And these last six people, maybe there's a way for them to not actually vote for Kevin McCarthy but to provide a logic for why they have been reluctant to support him. We will see over time and maybe they can vote present and provide the consensus we need to get on offense.

BLITZER: You have clearly been firmly, very firmly, Congressman, in Kevin McCarthy's corner during this entire fight. Do you share his confidence right now that he will be elected speaker of the House tonight?

DAVIDSON: Well, you know, he hasn't earned the job until he's earned all the votes. And that's yet to be determined. I think we're all optimistic that that's going to happen here at 10:00 when we call the roll again. But we will see how it goes. I'm hopeful and optimistic but it's no guarantee, for sure.

BLITZER: No guarantee until it's done.

Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz says McCarthy will be governing, he says, in a straight jacket due to the very tough concessions he had to make to get to this point. What do you say to Congressman Gaetz?

DAVIDSON: Well, look, you know, if that's what it takes to get Matt Gaetz to support Kevin McCarthy, I'm glad he will be able to get to a point where we can get on offense. I think there are a lot of things. Look, the reality is, all along, every vote comes right before it is a rule vote that sets the framework. And if we're going to do Republican policy, it's always been able to be taken down with five votes throughout the course of the year.

So, I think the reality of a narrow majority is you have a leader that has to be accountable to the whole conference. And in some ways, Nancy Pelosi had to do the same. She did it before January 3rd. I wish that Kevin in this group of people had been reluctant to support him have been able to do this ahead of January 3rd. I'm hopeful that we do it here tonight. But the reality is we are going to have to work together. We only have a majority if we work together as a majority.

BLITZER: You have said this feud within your own Republican Party, Congressman, has turned personal and that emotions have run very high. How are Republicans going to work together after all of this?

DAVIDSON: Well, if you look, I mean, very publically my colleague, Dan Crenshaw, has been very critical of some of these people, even comparing them to terrorists. And that's not helpful. It pushes people further apart. It dehumanizes one another. And it escalates the rhetoric. And people take that personally.

And that's part of human nature, right? When you are involve in conflict, you dehumanize the people there. It makes it easier to engage in the fight. And as an army guy, that's part of the training. And you need to do that at times.

We don't need do that here. We need to deescalate that. We need to be able to heal the wounds from this and be able to come together and say, look, I respect your point of view. Nobody is sent to Congress to follow orders. Everyone and every district around the country has constituents that are saying to fight for us. And everyone of these people believes passionately that's what they were doing, that's what they were sent here to do for sure. And I hope tonight we have a consensus to be able to do just that.

BLITZER: We shall see pretty soon. Congressman Warren Davidson, thank you so much for joining us.

DAVIDSON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's discuss all of this and more. Our political experts are here. And, Jamie, let me start with you. Do you think he's going to be elected speaker of the House tonight?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he is. But it's not over until it's over. But, look, what a difference a day can make. He won over 15 votes today. That is substantial. There are still six never Kevins. Let's see how never they are.

To Congressman Davidson's point, though, and Manu mentioned this, present is a way to save face.


They can still not vote for him but they can get out of the way. Congressman Davidson used the word, collaborative, that what we have seen this last week is collaborative. I would use another word. It's been ugly. This is not the way Kevin McCarthy wanted to get here. And I think the real question is, going forward, is this what we're going to see over and over again?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I thought about that when McCarthy came to the mics and made that comment about, well, it took this long, but now we know how to govern. And that's certainly a good way --

GANGEL: We all laughed.

CORNISH: -- to think about it going forward. But, yes, are people at home looking at that and thinking, yes, let's go through this many more times on many more votes, because that is the lesson that was learned just now, that if you want to get leverage over this leadership, the numbers are there for you to do that, and that is what a lot of these people who kind of hopped on, there's a never Kevin and then there are the people who like hopped on the wagon because now you can get stuff, and that's why he is able to make that progress in a day. But is this a showdown or a blueprint? That's a thing about going --

JEFF ZELENY, CHH ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: And the thing is this should be the easiest vote of the year. And all of the speaker's races that we have covered, yes, there's been drama but this is the easy part. Never mind the debt ceiling. Never mind those appropriation bills. I was talking to one Republican, a senior Republican on Capitol Hill today, who has been through a lot of this, and said, Kevin McCarthy has given up basically everything but the speaker's balcony. That, of course, is the grand space in Washington that looks out west toward the Washington monument across this beautiful city. So, he hasn't (INAUDIBLE) but he has given up a lot.

So, I also think that he will become speaker tonight but he is really relying on the mercy of two people voting present and the airlines of getting those other members back here. So, if it happens tonight, if it happens over the weekend, whatever, he -- but he inherits a job much different from the one he envisioned when he really first started this quest more than a decade ago.

BLITZER: Yes. One Republican member supposedly arriving here in Washington at 9:00 P.M. Eastern. They go into session at 10:00 P.M. Let's see if that flight is on schedule.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And if he gets -- he will, it does -- like what Jamie said, it appears he is on track to get this. He is on track to become speaker tonight. But the question is, is it really winning given what he has given what he's given up and what the concessions have been? Because this went way further, I think, than these 20 hardliners that we have been talking about now, of course, what were down to way further than what they thought it was going to when they embarked on this on Monday night, on Tuesday, as this really kicked off.

So, I actually think they've won major concessions. We still don't know what all the concessions are. That is something we're going to find out likely in the coming days when we see who is on certain committees and whatnot.

When it comes to voting present and that strategy there that Manu was talking about, I think it's a way also for some of them to save face, because they have been coming out, a lot of them making speeches. You've seen Lauren Boebert coming out nominating others. It's a way for them -- so we'll see what that ultimately looks like. I don't know.

Eli Crane and Matt Rosendale, I was told earlier, are in the top three of the most opposed to voting for Kevin McCarthy, the most who wanted to say no. Matt Rosendale has set aspirations. Eli Crane is a question from Arizona who thinks that it's unpopular to vote for Kevin McCarthy in his district. Those are all factors that they are debating over right now in the next four hours.

GANGEL: Right. And two other names that we are hearing that you can add to that, Matt Gaetz does not want to vote for Kevin McCarthy. Lauren Boebert, who, by the way, started this week being willing to vote for Kevin McCarthy and went into that first conference meeting and yelled back B.S. and turned against him, I think she may also. He can afford to lose four.

CORNISH: Right. But part of leadership is giving people an off ramp, right? And I do -- one question I have, Kaitlan, to your point, I'm curious going forward when there is sort of politically forensic writing going on about what happened over the last couple of days. I did think it was interesting Kevin McCarthy came out at the start of this and said, I can go forever.

And since he knew he didn't have the votes, to me, there was a resolve there that was unusual and that reflects his understanding of the players involved. The other thing to keep in mind is, since 2011, 2015, these other sort of battles we have been talking about, Congress has only gotten more conservative. I know we have been talking about ultra MAGA, MAGA all these. It's actually that the entire conference has moved to the right. And so the sort of idea that some people are more warm to a Kevin McCarthy or the establishment or whatever, that assumption doesn't hold because the numbers and the people who are there, they have changed. And they have a different sense of who they are accountable to.

BLITZER: All right, everybody standby. We have a lot more to discussion on these dramatic, historic developments unfolding right here in Washington. Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: The United States Congress still in limbo tonight as the House prepares to resume the fight over the speakership at 10:00 P.M. Eastern tonight. Let's get back to our political experts for more on the breaking news we're following right now.

Let me just follow up with you, Kaitlan. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz says that if McCarthy is elected speaker of the House, he will, for all practical purposes, have to govern with a straight jacket given all the concessions he has had to make.

COLLINS: I mean, I think that that is going to be the case potentially once we get a better look at what these concessions are that he has delivered. I mean, we were talking in the break about what we've heard about defense spending and the caps that they would like to put there.

We talked about the members that are going to be making up these committees, what those are going to look like, some of these House freedom caucus members and what this actually will look like and what Kevin McCarthy has to abide by what he has given them. Because where we started concessions-wise on Tuesday is much different than where we are now. And that is why you saw so many of those members say that they have changed their minds here.

So, we still don't know what they look like, and I think that's part of this. But the biggest one that I think would fit into that straight jacket category would be the vote to oust the sitting speaker at anytime they want. It only takes one member to motion for them to move to take that vote.

BLITZER: To begin to vote, yes.

COLLINS: That's a big deal.


And that's not something to be brushed off. Because I was talking to Fred Upton, who, we've been citing so much during this week a few weeks ago, and I said if that's a concession that someone wants Kevin McCarthy to make, should he take it? And he said, absolutely not. That will completely weaken him as speaker. And now that's something he's offered them.

ZELENY: I mean, the reality is, as he said himself, he said his father always says it's not how you start, it's about how you finish. Well, he is finishing in a weaker position because of what you said, the vote to oust him basically. So, he is on the cusp, it looks like, of getting a job that he has very little control over how long he will keep that job.

The parlor games already beginning, even before he becomes the speaker of the 118th Congress is how long he will keep that job. Will it be until Labor Day? Will it be beyond that? We will see. But the spending is the issue here. And there have been some arguments for having separate appropriations bills, actually having debates on these bills. That's how it used to be done in Washington. But it also gums up the works considerably.

So, the idea that we are entering this new divided Washington, this era of divided Washington, don't forget, Democrats control the Senate. They need to come to an agreement to keep the government running on the debt ceiling, et cetera. So, this is just the preview to this messy year to come.

GANGEL: And can I just say because 15 came over and he may get the votes tonight, we think he will, that doesn't mean that we can't have dejavu all over again, that this group or different versions of this group band together and hold the Republican conference hostage. There's one name we haven't talked about tonight. I'm looking at Kaitlan Collins.

COLLINS: No. I'm looking away.

GANGEL: The T word. At the end of the day, is Donald Trump going to take credit if Kevin McCarthy gets --


COLLINS: He just -- yes. That seems -- we are pretty sure where that's going. I know Audie is probably not surprised by that either. He did just write a few moments ago, he was saying, it looks like this is going to be a big day for Republicans, obviously hinting about what is to come after McCarthy said he was confident he was going to get there.

I will say, Byron Donalds, who has become this newfound name during all of this, he's easily recognizable to people. He definitely wasn't before. He said he did get a call from Trump yesterday. He does think that it had an effect on what actually happened here.

And other Republicans are more skeptical. It has to do with concessions we were talking about, but Byron Donalds, who are at the center of a lot of this and had his name nominated several times said he got a call from Trump and he believes it was effective in swaying --

BLITZER: And, Audie, I just want to let our viewers understand that some of these undecided or these people who have been rebels as far as voting for McCarthy, if they vote present tonight, for all practical purposes, that's a vote for McCarthy.

CORNISH: Yes, or a polite bowing out to say, at least we will stay out of the way or keep our powder dry, or whatever other metaphors we can use. But basically them saying like, okay, pause in the hostilities but let's face it until next time. Because as soon as that debt ceiling vote comes along to sort of expand the nation's credit, they are fully prepared to leverage that moment.

And I just want to say one other thing. One talking point I'm hearing very specifically is to try and recast Nancy Pelosi's terms as speaker as this kind of toxic, top-down thing that was destructive to the House. When, in fact, in a lot of ways, her style of leadership was as much in common with much of the history of the House, right? This is a model of speakership, being able to count and whip your votes, being able to know how -- you know what I mean, like being doing this legislation. This is what they are saying needs to be broken. And be careful what happens like when the dog catches the car, what it's going to look like when they aren't able to turning back.

ZELENY: One difference coming up is Democrats still will also be able to vote on these spending bills. There are some moderate Democrats that have been sitting on their hands. They have been very good soldiers, but they too want to keep the government open. So, that will be different coming up. There will be some Democrats coming to join some of these Republicans.

COLLINS: And how remarkable to see it going from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to if it is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the differences of those rules.

BLITZER: Everybody standby, there's a lot more coming up. We are going to stay certainly on top of this truly historic speaker's race. It is set to resume later tonight on the House floor.

We're also following, a very solemn anniversary here in United States, two years since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Congressman Adam Schiff is standing by live. We will be right back.



BLITZER: We are awaiting a truly historic moment in the United States House of Representatives. After four days and 13 failed ballots, Kevin McCarthy finally appears to be closing in on victory in the speaker's race.

The drama at the U.S. Capitol coming exactly two years after a mob stormed the U.S. Congress in a failed attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.

Our Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly has details now on how President Biden is marking the January 6thth anniversary. Phil, the president just honored some heroes from that day. Tell us more.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right, 14 individuals, but law enforcement officials from the day itself, January 6th, but also those that were critical in defending the election and the integrity of the election in the lead-up to January 6th, in some sense, kind of drawing a thread, making clear this wasn't just one day. There were significant events that led up to this and significant problems within the country that drove this. And the president was unsparingly vivid in his description about what transpired two years ago.


Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: A mob of insurrectionists assaulted law enforcement, vandalized sacred halls, hunted down elected officials, all for the purpose to attempt to overthrow the will of the people and usurp the peaceful transfer of power. All of it -- all of it was fueled by lies about the 2020 election.

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


BIDEN: And, Wolf, the president did not mention what's been happening in that same building over the course of this week, hasn't weighed in specifically about his thoughts of that ongoing speaker's race, but there was an implicit contrast in the events of today here at the White House and the events just down the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, one that underscores another critical component of the president's message. This was an effort to elevate the individuals that were responsible for protecting people on that day, to remind people of that truly horrifying event, but also to make clear that while things appear to be turning or shifting to some degree when you talk to White House officials, this is very much still something that exists to this day.

One of the officials that was honored during the ceremony is an Atlanta election worker who the former president threatened on his social media account just this week. And you just need to look to the House floor at this moment in time, many of those who have been opposing Kevin McCarthy up until now, most of them voted against certifying the election. Some of them were critical players in trying to drive the lie that drove the individuals to attack the Capitol.

The underlying point here, Wolf, to some degree, is while the president believes there's been significant progress made, democracy is not something that's always just a given, people are going to have to continue to focus and fight for it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Absolutely. All right, Phil Mattingly at the White House, thank you very much. It was a very, very moving ceremony at the White House earlier today.

Let's discuss what's going on with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

I will get to the January 6thth anniversary. But, first, let me get to the major historic events unfolding where you are in the House of Representatives. Do you believe Kevin McCarthy when he says he will have the votes tonight to end this historic standoff for speaker of the House?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I always take, frankly, what Kevin McCarthy says with a big grain of salt. He may have the votes. We will find out, I think, in just a couple of hours. But what he will have the votes for is a very diminished speakership, one that may not be capable of governing their own members. It may lead to government shutdowns. It may lead to defaulting on our national debt. And so I have grave concerns about just what that speakership will mean.

I think the problem Kevin McCarthy has had is his own members don't really trust him. And part of that goes back to January 6th where he did a complete flip-flop supporting the insurrectionists, voting to overturn the election and criticizing Donald Trump, then going down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring. And people in his own conference don't really think that he stands for anything beyond himself, and that's the problem he is having.

BLITZER: So, what does it say to you, Congressman, that on this second anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, he is poised he is likely to become speaker of the House?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, it tells me that you can get pretty far in politics without a core conviction. But I think it's going to make it impossible for him to govern. And we will see soon tests of just what he has given away and how he has empowered this most radical element of his conference.

I think that it's a mistake for the Republican conference to have cut the deals they did. I think it was Kevin McCarthy putting himself above the interests of his own conference in order to do it. And -- but time will tell. It does, I think, point out the structural problem and that is right now there's really only one functional political party, and we need two functional parties in order for a system to work, at least two functional parties.

We are totally unified on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, it's disunity, it's chaos. And sadly, I think there's more where that came from.

BLITZER: And presumably more to come. Let's see.

We saw President Biden today honor the people who safeguarded our democracy from election workers to the police officers who protected the Capitol on January 6th. How powerful is it, Congressman, to see that group, Democrats and Republicans, who rose to the moment?


SCHIFF: You know, it really is so powerful and so moving.

And as you say, the threat continues. Those Georgia election workers who were honored today are still the subject of presidential lies and threats. What he put them through, what he continues to put them through is unconscionable. And those other folks, like Rusty Bowers, who put their values, who put their oath to their Constitution above their devotion to a person or a party, they are, I think, shining examples of political courage that ought to be emulated by others. And just to see the contrast between someone's principle like Rusty Bowers on the other hand and on the other hand the spectacle we see in the House of Representatives where you have people that lack that devotion to their oath having so much trouble getting this support even of their own people.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks so much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, we will get back to the breaking news, Kevin McCarthy now closing in on the speaker's gavel after swinging more than a dozen votes in his favor. The House is returning to special session later tonight. We are also going live to Idaho for the latest on the quadruple murder investigation. Right now, we are getting new information about the painstaking hunt that finally led to the suspect's capture.



BLITZER: Right now, we are getting chilling new insight into the Idaho murders investigation from newly unsealed court documents as well as new reaction from the father of one of the victims.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is standing by for us live in Moscow, Idaho. Gary, first of all, what can you tell us?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Bryan Kohberger remains here in this jail in Moscow, Idaho, one day after his initial appearance hearing in the same building. The courthouse is here too. He showed almost no emotion, whatsoever. The only emotion he showed was a little smile to his public defender. He didn't pay any attention to the grieving family members who are sitting on the first row of the courthouse.

We can tell you a probable cause affidavit was unsealed yesterday were released. We have been waiting for this for a long time. It answered a lot of questions. The first question, police say, they found a knife sheath inside the house on one of the victim's beds. That knife sheath they say had DNA, and they say it's the DNA of Kohberger.

Also, there were two housemates who survived the attack. We have known that. We didn't know if any of them were witnesses, those two people. We have now found out that at least one of them was. That witness said she heard crying outside of her bedroom. She walked out and she saw a man wearing black clothing and a mask. She says she was caught in a frozen, shock phase. She went back to her room and locked the door. Police say the description of who she saw was very important in their investigation.

And finally, we also learned from this affidavit that they detected cell signals from Kohberger 12 different times in the five months prior to these murders near the house, the indication that he may have been targeting this house.

Now, the affidavit does not talk about a motive whatsoever. Our colleague, Jim Sciutto, talked to a father of one of the victims earlier today.


STEVE GONCALVES, FATHER OF VICTIM KAYLEE GONCALVES: You read the affidavit and you just find out that nobody understands exactly why. But he was stalking them, he was hunting them, he was just a person looking for an opportunity and it just happened to be in that house. And it's hard to take.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TUCHMAN: It's really hard to cover this story, just the sadness you see from not only the family members of these victims but also people here in Moscow and the neighboring town of Pullman, Washington. It's such been a sad few months.

One other chilling thing we saw, Wolf, in this affidavit, according to the police, the cell signal of this alleged murderer was also detected five hours after the murders right by the house. He apparently, they feel, went back after the sun came up. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Gary Tuchman, on the scene for us, thank you very much for that report.

Just ahead, the fight for the speakership set to resume soon, after Kevin McCarthy picks up key conservative hardliners. Will the Republican leader finally grab the gavel tonight?

Also ahead, Damar Hamlin's remarkable recovery. Finally able to speak with his Buffalo Bills teammates on a video call after having his breathing tube removed.



BLITZER: There's more good news tonight on the recovery of Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety, able to speak with his doctors, family, teammates after having his breathing tube removed.

CNN's Ryan Young has the latest on Hamlin's condition and what comes next.


DION DAWKINS, BUFFALO BILLS: We got our boy. The excitement was beautiful. It was amazing.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A team overjoyed with good news.

DAWKINS: To see that boy's face, to see him smile, see him go like this in the camera, it was -- it was everything. So -- and then to hear him talk to us, it was literally everything, and that's what we needed.

YOUNG: The Buffalo Bills announcing more progress after Damar Hamlin's breathing tube was removed overnight.


YOUNG: The 24-year-old now able to breathe on his own, briefly joining Friday morning's team meeting with players and coaches via FaceTime.

MCDERMOTT: To see the players' reaction they stood up right away and clapped for him and, you know, yelled some things to him. YOUNG: Hamlin injecting his sense of humor into the call.

MCDERMOTT: The thing that makes me laugh is he did this to the guys, you know, right away. He made the heart symbol probably more than anything.

YOUNG: The signs of progress welcome relief for players and staff.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL: I don't like how he went down.

YOUNG: New audio of the intense moments on the field after Hamlin's collapse as medics fought to save his life.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL: Bring the cot with the medics, all of you and get wheeled out here.

YOUNG: A reminder of how far Hamlin's condition has improved.

DR. WILLIAM KNIGHT IV, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI: I don't think that we can emphasize enough the immediate medical response.

YOUNG: The medical treatment Hamlin crediting those first responders with his improved condition.

KNIGHT: In addition to having paramedics, emergency physicians, respiratory therapists all right at his bedside in less than a minute from the collapse, that speaks to the ability that demonstrates that he had good provision to his brain that led to no identifiable neurological deficit.

YOUNG: The player on the other side that routine play, Tee Higgins, speaking out.

TEE HIGGINS, CINCINNATI BENGALS WIDE RECEIVER: Obviously, it's been hard, you know, just because I had something to do with the play.


He's doing good, so I'm in a good place right now.

YOUNG: All this coming as the Bills prepare to face off against the Patriots on Sunday.

MCDERMOTT: All the improvements of Damar make life so much easier to focus on as you mention the task at hand and that being the New England Patriots.

YOUNG: Buffalo teasing a special number 3 patch players will wear in a number of tributes this weekend including highlighting the number 3 on the field. The NFL encouraging teams to show league wide support for Damar, the first responders, and medical caregivers.

DAWKINS: It'll be emotional. It really will be.

YOUNG: As the players now shift their focus from that traumatic moment to future games -- DAWKINS: We're going to use all the positives to help us win.

YOUNG: Their teammate's future still top of mind with a long recovery ahead.

KNIGHT: His future with the professional football is entirely too early to have that conversation. He's still critically ill in the ICU. Our focus is on getting him better.


YOUNG (on camera): Wolf, we've been using the words unprecedented all week long. And the NFL said the AFC championship may have to be played at a neutral site. And if the Bengals and Ravens have to play in a wildcard game, they're actually going to do a coin flip to decide who gets home-field advantage. But at the end of the day, this is an awesome story with great news. Being here all weekend seeing the long faces all week and now know that people are throwing up their arms and saying this has worked out pretty well. This has been a great end to this story at this point -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We've been praying for Damar all week. I'll continue to pray for him as well.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Ryan, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we're awaiting a key vote for the House speaker's position. That's coming up soon.

But, first, a preview of the new CNN original series "Giuliani: What Happened to America's Mayor?"


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What happened to Rudy Giuliani?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is almost unthinkable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A theme that runs through his life is that he's got to be at the center of the action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy's got to be the star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy really wanted to make big cases.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: We sure can deliver a message, which is you're going to go to prison.

New York has five organized crime families and they have been permitted to grow and grow and grow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Giuliani was taking on the mafia.

GIULIANI: I heard a plane, it had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.

There's a terrible tragedy. The best way we're going to get through this is if we remain calm.

The number of casualties will be more than any of us can wear ultimately.

Those of us who are here have to defend freedom by going about our lives unafraid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He stepped forward to be a leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was the man meeting the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fast forward to Giuliani becomes the story of rise and fall.

GIULIANI: We're going to fight to the very end to make sure they don't take away our free and fair vote!

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Rudy Giuliani arguing that he wasn't literally advocating for insurrection.

TAPPER: To understand the arc of Rudy Giuliani, one has to appreciate how intoxicating fame and power are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was always this tension between genuine public service and the pursuit of the glory of Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy is not a guy who backs down. Rudy is a guy who doubles down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To stand up and be defined. In America, that's what they love.

GIULIANI: America!

ANNOUNCER: "Giuliani: What Happened to America's Mayor?", Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.




BLITZER: Our breaking news. The House is preparing to gavel back in tonight as Kevin McCarthy inches closer to the speakership.

CNN's Brian Todd has a closer look right now at the days' long standstill.

Ryan, what can you tell us?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Kevin McCarthy is under serious pressure to pull this out tonight because Congress is paralyzed every hour that he is not seated.



TODD (voice-over): The stalemate over Kevin McCarthy's House speakership bid has been having a real world impact with crucial business of the country that hasn't been done.

REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA: It's a huge problem because, for example, I sit on the house intelligence committee. We oversee all 19 intelligence agencies. We are currently off line.

TODD: Until a speaker is sworn in, no member of the House can be sworn in. That means throughout this stalemate, key committees have not been able to function including ones that oversee the agencies that guard America's national security.

One member complained that since he hadn't been sworn in, he couldn't meet with top military leaders in a top security facility called a SCIF to discuss threats in the Pacific region because he didn't yet have a security clearance.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): I'm a member of the Intel Committee. I'm on the Armed Services Committee and I can't meet in the SCIF to conduct essential business. My point is we have work to do that we can't do right now.

TODD: Experts tell CNN that during this impasse, Congress has not had the power to authorize or stop a war.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, EXPERT ON CONGRESS: What if, for example, China invaded Taiwan? What happens when Congress can't act and can't do anything when we're at a point when it is required to?

TODD: Experts also say any natural disaster during the speaker fight would have no Congress to dole out emergency funds to help victims. On the most basic level, every new Congress has to pass a new set of rules. But without a speaker, they couldn't do that. With no rules, no committees.

ORNSTEIN: The staff, at least in theory, can still operate. But the members can't do what the members are supposed to do. And that includes putting out legislation, holding hearings.

TODD: Also with no committees in place, the Republican majority couldn't start the investigations they've been agitating for.

REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): The less amount of time we have to hold this administration accountable with Hunter Biden and his laptop, Fauci with COVID, Mayorkas with the porous southern border.

TODD: And without a House speaker, there has been no one to be second in line behind the vice president if something disastrous happened to President Biden and Vice President Harris during this stalemate, the presidency would have gone to the Senate president pro tem, Democratic Senator Patty Murray.


TODD (on camera): And today the White House did try to downplay the effect the stalemate has had on national security -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.