Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Soon, House Votes On Impeaching DHS Secretary Mayorkas; Appeals Court Rejects Trump's Immunity Claim In Scathing Ruling; Michigan School Shooter's Mother Guilty Of Manslaughter; House Fails To Impeach Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Here is CNN's Pete Muntean with a quick look at how these bolts were supposed to work.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This is the actual type of bolt. This is an AN-6 bolt, pretty common in aviation. This is the bolt itself. There's a castle nut here, and then a cotter pin to keep this all together.

At one point, there was some conjecture that maybe the cotter pin was missing that would cause this castle nut to work itself free. In actuality, the NTSB says none of these bolts were in place at the time of this blowout last month.


TAPPER: Boeing says it is taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room, and we're following major breaking news here in Washington. We're awaiting two key votes in the House of Representatives on a truly historic vote, including a truly historic vote impeaching the Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.

We're also standing by for the House to vote on a standalone bill sending aid to Israel. This as federal appeals court deals a huge blow to Donald Trump's legal defense, ruling he does not have immunity in the federal elections subversion case.

Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju. He's up on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, update our viewers right now on these important two votes.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're awaiting what will be a historic and unprecedented and highly controversial vote when the House moves ahead to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, the first time ever a Homeland Security Secretary has been impeached, charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, and only the second time in history that a Cabinet Secretary has impeached, the last one about 150 years ago, the secretary of the war, William Belknap, at the time being the only one with that distinction.

The Republicans are pressing ahead to charge Mayorkas, contending that he has failed in his duties in trying to secure the border with Mexico, charged that Democrats furiously oppose and say that Republicans are abusing the impeachment process to go after Mayorkas on policy grounds.

But this vote is expected to be razor thin. There's already this narrow House Republican majority. They cannot afford more than three Republican defections in order to move forward on these charges. We do expect two Republicans to vote against it. A handful of members may have not said how they will vote, but House Republican leaders are confident that they will get there.

Now, this also comes as the House GOP leadership is pressing ahead with the standalone $17.6 billion package to fund Israel. It will provide emergency aid for Israel. This is also controversial because Democrats wanted to tie this to Ukraine, to Taiwan aid, as well as the new border security package that was negotiated in the Senate with the White House. They want this in all one package.

Mike Johnson has instead pushed for a standalone bill. The White House has threatened to veto it because of this effort, and House Democratic leaders have come out opposed. We expect that bill to fail. They need two-thirds majority in order to get that through, because Johnson himself is facing pushback from the right flank over that Israel package because of concerns that it does not cut spending. ,So that is likely to collapse.

Wolf, we do expect when the Mayorkas impeachment vote happens, if in fact he is charged with a high crime and misdemeanor, the Senate controlled by Democrats will ultimately kill that effort, dismiss those charges, and he will not be convicted of a crime, Wolf.

But this comes at a time of high tension on Capitol Hill. In addition to the Israel aid package collapsing, we expect the border security deal that was cut with the White House, along with the Ukraine and Israel aid in one big package, to also fail tomorrow morning when the Senate takes up that measure amid Republican rebellion and deep division in the GOP ranks on that issue.

So, so much happening, Wolf, but at the end of the day, so much also collapsing amid infighting here in the Capitol.

BLITZER: All right. Manu, I want you to stand by. You're going to be busy this hour, lots going on up on Capitol Hill.

There's another big story we're following right now as well, a major legal blow to Donald Trump's criminal defense. The U.S. Court of Appeals soundly rejecting his claim of presidential immunity from prosecution in the January 6th federal election subversion case.

CNN's Paula Reid has more on the ruling and the court's very strong message that the former president is not, repeat, not above the law.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a unanimous, historic ruling, three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting former President Trump's claim that he has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution. The judge is writing, for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.


Special Council Jack Smith charged him with four federal counts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government

REID: Trump has repeatedly insisted he was acting within the scope of his duties as president and therefore cannot be tried.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A president of the United States has to be free and clear of mind. And you can't be worrying about something where you're doing the right thing, but if it doesn't work out, you're going to end up in prison.

REID: The judges on Tuesday batted down that argument and slammed Trump's alleged efforts to stay in power, despite losing the election, as unpresidential and an assault on American institutions. We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes. Former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three branches.

In a statement today, the Trump campaign argued that without complete immunity, no president could properly perform their duties for fear of retribution. If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party.

But the court also rejected any suggestion that prosecuting Trump in this case would have a chilling effect on future leaders. Past presidents have understood themselves to be subject to impeachment and criminal liability, at least under certain circumstances, so the possibility of chilling executive action is already in effect.

Trump is vowing to appeal and the Supreme Court will likely have the final say. The justices, though, were already set to hear arguments on Thursday in another case with huge implications for Trump on whether his actions after the 2020 election disqualify him from the 2024 ballot.

(END VIDEOTAPE) REID (on camera): With Trump expected to appeal this decision, the issue is really now timing. How long will it take the high court to make clear what they intend to do with this case? Because the longer they sit with it, the less likely it is that this case will go to trial before the 2024 election. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very historic, very significant indeed. Paula Reid, thank you very much.

I want to bring in more experts right now. On the election subversion case against Trump, and, George Conway, let me start with you. This panel meticulously rejected seemingly all of Trump's defenses. And at one point, they called him citizen Trump, not former president, not president, but citizen Trump. Do you think this is a strong enough ruling to withstand appeal?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Absolutely. I mean it's both strong but also very narrow and that's what makes it difficult to take up to the Supreme Court. It's a strong opinion. It's airtight. It's methodical. It disposes of every single one of Trump's arguments in a methodical fashion, even the stupid arguments, and treats them with respect but is biting, nonetheless.

And at the same time, they narrowly crafted the opinion to deal with one circumstance in one circumstance only, and it's where a former president is being indicted for having tried to stop the peaceful transition of power.

And that's a very narrow opinion. That's another reason why the Supreme Court may not take this case. And if they don't take this case, we're headed for a trial no later than June.

BLITZER: Historic indeed and very significant.

Elliot Williams is with us. Trump's strategy, as we know, has been delay, delay, delay, delay this case, delay all of the cases, but explain to us how this decision pushes back on that.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, there's a few ways they've done that. Number one, when someone loses an opinion in a court of appeals, they usually have two choices. They can either appeal to the whole appeals court that's called an en banc, or they can appeal to the Supreme Court.

Now, what they said here was that -- and, typically, when it's appealed to the full appeals court, the clock keeps running, right? So, they only gave the foreign president a week to appeal to the Supreme Court, which really incentivizes going there, as opposed to keeping the clock running.

One more thing they did was that they wrote this in one voice as opposed to having one judge write it and having two agree with her. No. They said, this is the opinion of the court, we're not signing it. That is one voice that made it a lot less likely that there would be dissent on the court, or that other judges on the court would want to take it up and overturn it. BLITZER: And it's interesting. Jamie Gangel is with us. Trump is obviously railing against this Court of Appeals decision. On Truth Social, he said this. A president will be afraid to act for fear of the opposite party's vicious retribution after leaving office. What do you make of that?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, let's remember no other former president has ever been indicted for trying to overthrow the peaceful transfer of power. If you look at presidents 1 through 44, they're not worried about retribution.


This is a Donald Trump problem.

But to your point, the word, retribution, that is a classic Donald Trump word. It is what he campaigns on. It's what he says to his followers, I am your retribution. And we've seen this where he says, political consultants can't get money. Nikki Haley, if you donate to her, they're going to be out of MAGA world.

So, I think it was not accidental that he used that word.

BLITZER: A very significant word. Carrie Cordero, do you think the Supreme Court would take up Trump's appeal if in fact that happens?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it could go either way. I think it's really hard to predict what the Supreme Court is going to do in this particular situation. I think there's a strong argument for them not to take it, and that's because the D.C. Circuit really -- because they took a little bit extra time in considering the case and really wrote an opinion for the history books.

It is so thorough in terms of its constitutional analysis on the separation of powers. It's clear with respect to the issues it takes on as to whether or not a president who, in some circumstances, could have immunity from civil cases, should have immunity in the criminal context.

It acknowledges that this was an issue of first impression for the court. This has never, has happened. The court has never had to take up this position. But it really analyzes the issue of immunity and it lays out the historical reasons why the former president's arguments really just don't have any merit and any basis.

And so I think they're based on the D.C. Circuit opinion. There really is a credible basis for the Supreme Court to say there's no dispute here. The D.C. Circuit opinion can hold, and this case should move forward.

BLITZER: And the unanimous decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals would in fact be the law, would remain if the Supreme Court doesn't take it up. What do you think? You need four Supreme Court justices to take up this appeal if in fact it happens. Do you think that will happen? And if you do, who are the four? CONWAY: Well, I'm with Carrie that I think that it could go either way. But I think I would vote against certiorari if I were a Supreme Court justice because I don't think any court is going to do a better job than this court did with this opinion. I just think it's hard to do, and I think it's not worth the time for the Supreme Court to take it and review it, particularly when the case can be reviewed after Trump is convicted.

He can make this argument to the Supreme Court to his heart's content. He's going to lose there, but there's no reason why the Supreme Court needs to take this now, given this rock solid --

BLITZER: Do you think four of the nine Supreme Court justices will in fact want to take it up?

CONWAY: I don't see why they would, particularly when they have this other difficult case that they're going to hear next Thursday. They got their hands full over there. And if I were them, I'd just leave this one alone.

BLITZER: Elliot, button this up.

WILLIAMS: No. And I think the only reason why, or a reason why they may want to take it up is that they may say this is such an important matter of what's called first impression, this has never come up before, and it's so important to the future of the country that really we the Supreme Court need to be the ones to make the decision. Even if they rubber stamp the decision, it's their voice, not the Court of Appeals.

But I agree with everything that Carrie and George have said. This is a pretty airtight opinion that they all signed together with no dissents. I have a hard time seeing the problem.

BLITZER: A unanimous decision, in fact. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we're going back live to Capitol Hill for those very two important House votes that are ongoing. A Republican push to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas is on the line, as well as U.S. aid to Israel.

Also ahead, a historic guilty verdict against the mother of a school shooter. We will break down the unprecedented conviction.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: We're monitoring breaking news right now on the House of Representative floor, where we're awaiting a vote to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. We'll go back there when that happens. Also tonight, another very important story we're following, a Michigan jury has just made history, convicting the mother of a school shooter, Ethan Crumbley, on four counts of manslaughter after a gut-wrenching, very emotional trial.

CNN's Jean Casarez has details on the groundbreaking conviction.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Historic verdict --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We find the defendant guilty.

CASAREZ: -- in the manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a teen who killed four students at a Michigan High School in 2021. The jury unanimous in their verdict after more than ten hours of deliberation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number 12, was that (INAUDIBLE) your verdict?


CASAREZ: Jennifer Crumbley had pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count for each student her son murdered. She faces a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in prison for each count, which would run concurrently and will be sentenced in April.

On November 30th, 2021, Ethan Crumbley killed Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana at Oxford High School using a gun his parents gave him. The case is a novel one and unprecedented in testing the limits of whether a parent of a mass shooter can be held accountable for the attack.

SHANNON SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This case is a very dangerous one for parents out there. It just is, and it is one of the first of its kind.

CASAREZ: The jury forewomen said one detail stood out in deliberations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that really hammered at home is that she was the last adult with the gun.

CASAREZ: The family of one of the victims reacting to the verdict just outside of the courtroom today.

CRAIG SHILLING, FATHER OF CRUMBLEY VICTIM JUSTIN SHILLING: It was a long time coming, but it's definitely a step toward accountability. It's not really about winning or losing. It's about making it apparent that this has to stop in society.


CASAREZ: During the trial, prosecutors painted Jennifer Crumbley as grossly negligent, giving her son a gun and failing to get him the proper mental health treatment despite warning signs. KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: The question about why Jennifer Crumbley didn't take one of these small, small actions, secure the gun, find out where the gun is. It looms large in this courtroom. There is no one it looms larger for than the victims and the family members of those kids who were killed on that day.

CASAREZ: But the 45-year-old's lawyer argued her son's actions could not have been predicted.

SMITH: Can every parent really be responsible for everything their children do, especially when it's not foreseeable? And this clearly was not foreseeable to Mrs. Crumbley because there's no one in the world, including Mrs. Crumbley, who wouldn't let a school shooting happen.

CASAREZ: Scenes from the day of the shooting were shown in court while the jury heard from those who survived it.

MOLLY DARNELL, OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: I had texted my husband, I love you, active shooter. And then I started feeling blood dripping down my arm.

CASAREZ: Jennifer Crumbley took the stand earlier in the trial during the defense of the case and appeared to shift some blame onto her husband.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is responsible for storing the gun?


CASAREZ: Jennifer's husband, James Crumbley, is scheduled to go to trial on the same charges in early March. He too has pleaded not guilty.


CASAREZ (on camera): And Jennifer Crumbley's sentencing is set for April 9th. This will be a sentencing hearing. We expect it to be extremely emotional, because if there are and there should be victim impact statements, those would be the family members of those four students that were gunned down by Ethan Crumbley.

No word yet whether James Crumbley's trial will get started one month from today on the 9th of March.

BLITZER: We will wait and see. Jean Casarez on the scene for us as usual, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates right now. Laura, this is the first time a parent of a mass shooter has been criminally charged and convicted of her son's actions. What kind of precedent does this set?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This has set a historic verdict. This is the very first time in a long line of, sadly, Wolf, school shootings, mass shootings we have, not only a living shooter but also the parents being held to account for what has happened, and many family members unsure of how to channel their need and desire for justice.

Well, here, it was in the form of having this involuntary manslaughter charge. And what that tells you is it wasn't intentional. That's not what the law requires. It requires recklessness. It requires criminal negligence that you could have done something differently to save this (INAUDIBLE).

Now, what's interesting here of course is the testimony of the defendant herself. She testified about how she was unsure about his mental health in many ways, that she was focused on other things, that she wouldn't do anything differently. She pointed to her husband as well. But the end of the day, I think that the community of jurors here said that evidence is overwhelming, that that day of the actual shooting, you, unlike the school educators who you met with, you were aware that your son had access to a weapon and a school shooting happened.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a heartbreaking situation. Does today's verdict, do you think, make it more or less likely that her husband will also be found guilty when he comes up for a trial next month?

COATES: Frankly, I would be surprised if you had a trial. I'd be more inclined to think of a guilty plea at this point, a change of plea. Because, you know, when you think about the jury pool, if the wife has already been found guilty, and everyone deserves a presumption of innocence, absolutely, and the prosecution has got to carry their burden of proof.

But the same set of facts that are surrounding what her defense was will likely be used by this particular defendant as well, say for perhaps an affair or affinity for horses or that he is now responsible for the gun, but it changes the entire dynamic.

It will be a new set of jurors, a new prosecution having to actually prove their case, but the precedent has been set, that if you were aware of red flags and chose to do something, not anything about them, then you are as guilty as the person who actually committed the crime. That's the standard for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter across the board.

BLITZER: And there were plenty of red flags that came up in the court. All right, Laura, thank you very, very much.

Laura, of course, will be back later tonight with her program, Laura Coates Live, that starts at 11:00 P.M. Eastern later tonight. We'll be watching.

We're still awaiting two key votes on the House floor, the vote to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayoarkas, plus a vote on a standalone Israel aid package. We're going to bring you both of those votes.


That's coming up live.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: More now on the breaking news we're following, two major votes in the House of Representatives ongoing.

I want to bring back our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joining us from Capitol Hill. We're also joined by CNN White House Reporter Priscilla Alvarez, and our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Manu, we've been waiting for this impeachment vote to start now for some time. Is there a hold up? What's going on?

RAJU: Well, typically, Wolf, when these votes are held open, it gives the leadership some time to work over some members, to try to whip them into line, to try to make sure they have the votes. And this is going to be very, very narrow vote.


Republicans have virtually no margin for error. We expect they can only afford to lose three Republican votes. Right now, we have two who are publicly opposed. A handful of others have not said where they'll come down. Undoubtedly those conversations are happening.

Now, I caught up with some of those members today, and one of them, in particular, Tom McClintock, raised concerns about the precedent impeaching Alejandro Marocas would set.


RAJU: Can you talk about the president you think this vote would set?

REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): I think that it lowers the grounds of impeachment to a point where we can expect it to be leveled against every conservative Supreme Court justice, every future Republican president and cabinet member, the moment the Democrats take control. And there will be nobody there to stop them because we will have been complicit in redefining the fundamental definition of impeachment that the American founders placed in our Constitution.

RAJU: Congresswoman, how are you going to vote on the Mayorkas impeachment?


BLITZER: And that last boing of the kiss came from Congressman Maria Salazar, who, in fact, in the past, has opposed moving forward with impeachment, but not saying how she will vote here. She is one person to watch, as well as Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who has not said how he would vote, but did raise concerns, Wolf, in a meeting this morning about moving forward with impeachment. So, if there are four votes, that would force this effort to collapse. But House GOP leaders still believe that they will get there. They'll pass this, making Mayorkas just the second cabinet secretary ever to be impeached, only to see it to go over to the Senate, which is planning to kill this when it gets moved over to the Democratic- controlled chain.

BLITZER: In about 150 years since the first time that happened.

Priscilla, how is the White House reacting to this upcoming impeachment vote?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have been preparing for this moment. It was clear when House Republicans took control of the House, and they were going to start threatening to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

They essentially telegraphed it. The Department of Homeland Security shortly thereafter hired a private law firm. That happened last year. And there have been strategic meetings with Homeland Security officials and senior White House officials leading up to this.

But, of course, the secretary really became the face of President Biden's border policies, and he is -- he fielded intense criticism from Republicans and sometimes Democrats about the handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. Notably, he was also deeply involved in the ongoing border negotiations to reach that border package that the Senate unveiled on Sunday.

And so the White House, again, has been preparing for this. They have noted this was predetermined from the start, that this is a farce and that there's no there, there. But even so, House Republicans have moved forward as administration officials expected they would, in what is, Wolf, an exceedingly rare move, as you just mentioned. It hasn't happened in over 100 years. Again, the last time this happened was in 1876. And so that is something that administration officials have also reminded reporters of.

BLITZER: That's interesting. Gloria, the Democratic-controlled Senate is almost certainly not going to remove Mayorkas from office, even if he's impeached in the House of Representatives, he's not going to be convicted in the U.S. Senate, where there's a Democratic majority. So, what's behind this move from House Republicans?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this is a move for Republicans to say they got a trophy. And the trophy is Mayorkas, and he's a symbol of border policy. And they can take it to their constituents, and they can raise money off of it. And they can say, look, we got this scalp. He's the guy running the Department of Homeland Security. And he was at fault for all of this.

What they can't say, and there's a lot of testimony about this, is that Mayorkas committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Even attorneys they called as witnesses said that they didn't see it. But what they can tell their constituents is something else. BLITZER: Let me go back to Manu. I understand, Manu, the House vote has just started on the impeachment of Mayorkas. What should we be looking for?

RAJU: Yes, this vote happening right now, Wolf. We're looking at the Republican no votes. That is going to be critical. We expect all Democrats to vote against impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas.

The question is going to be how many no votes? Three, we're told, at the moment, appears to be the magic numbers. As you can see two Republicans have already voted no. Three is the most they can afford.

Now, this is just a caution. It depends on absences. If there are more absences than we expect, or some members may vote present, that will lower the threshold for the amount that is needed to ultimately get majority vote in the chamber. So, absences and present votes could change the actual calculation, the math here.

But if all things go as we expect, we expect they can only lose three Republican votes, and you can see, Wolf, there just hitting number three.


We did not know if there would be three or not. We expected there would be two. So, here we go, there's not any more margin for error But again cautioning absences could change the math here.

But we there was some expectation going into this vote that this would pass by the narrowest, narrowest of margins. And at the moment that is exactly the case. There are 81 members now fewer than that, 78, 76, going down who have not voted yet. People are now casting their ballots. But this is a -- casting of voting cards here. But this will go pretty quickly. This is a five-minute vote. So, in the next few minutes, Wolf, we will get a sense about whether or not Mayorkas will be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors were two articles of impeachment that Republicans are pushing through. Three Republican -- four Republican no votes. Wolf, that suggests that this could collapse.

Again, I want to caution -- oh, it went down again to three. Someone may have actually -- sometimes that happens. Sometimes, Wolf, the member may think they're voting yes, and they vote no and they realize that frantically and change it back the other way. So, it is back down to three Republican no votes. So, at the moment, still, enough votes it appears to get this through the chamber, but not much time, Wolf. This is still running. There's two minutes left here, two minutes and 40 seconds and counting down, 42 no votes, 42 people have not voted yet, three no votes on the Republican side.

As you can see, though, Democrats are all voting against impeaching Mayorkas. The question, the big question, how many more Republicans will vote no, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see, two and a half minutes or so to go. Go ahead, Gloria. BORGER: Normally, and, you know, Manu can speak to this better than anyone, but, normally, you wouldn't bring a vote like this to the floor unless you were sure you had the votes to do what the speaker wants to do, which is to impeach Mayorkas. And, you know, in fact, we don't know the answer to that. Maybe the speaker does. Maybe he knows he's got a couple of votes in his back pocket. But, normally, this is not the way you would proceed, because if it doesn't work, it's an embarrassment for him.

RAJU: And, Wolf, there have been discussions all day long about whether they would pull this vote or not. There have been questions. A lot of the members themselves thought that this was going to be pulled because it was so close. There were some questions. Some members had family issues. Some had injuries. Congressman Hal Rogers was in a car accident. He is in the Capitol here with a neck brace voting today. Others had some other issues, but they came back to vote. That changed the numbers. If they had the number of absences, that would have made it hard, Republican absences, that would have made it harder.

On the Democratic side, the long shot presidential candidate, Dean Phillips, came back to vote against this measure. If he did not appear, that would have also made it easier for Republicans to get the votes, to get this through. But people came back because this is such a critical vote. But one member who is missing, Steve Scalise, the House majority leader, who has undergone some health issues, he's been out for a few weeks now. But because of those absences, that changes the math.

But as you can see, Wolf, it looks like the votes were there, which is a big -- as Gloria said, it would be unlikely that the Republican leadership would have went through with this, not knowing they had the votes. And at the moment, it looks like they would be there because they will get there. Because there are only three Republican no votes, and seven Republicans have not yet voted here, as this vote is ticking down to the final seconds, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens and we'll watch it very closely.

You know, it's truly remarkable, Gloria, when you think about it, that House Republicans are attempting to impeach Mayorkas because they claim he failed to control the border while at the same time they're refusing to take up a bipartisan bill aimed at controlling the border.

Well, it's kind of the ultimate cynical act, isn't it? I mean, you're saying here he's guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors because we disagree with him on policy, which is really what this is about. Then a bill is presented to the House, which actually changes policy, which is a bill that they wouldn't be able to get if Donald Trump were president, because Democrats would never support it, and suddenly they're backing off and saying, you know, it's not good enough, it's not strong enough, we need more time to study it. So, you know, it's just, you know, cynical politics.

BLITZER: Let me follow up with you, Priscilla. You've been doing a lot of reporting on all of this. Republicans claim that we have a major crisis at the border right now, but they're also willing to delay legislation addressing this crisis until next year. How much worse could this situation get simply by waiting?

ALVAREZ: Well, President Biden is planning to seize on all of that, really flipping the script on Republicans by using both this vote against his Homeland Security secretary and their threat to not even take up the Senate bill as a way of throwing into question how serious Republicans really are on border security.

And we got a preview as to how the president plans to do that on the campaign trail earlier today. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something, the American people are going to know why it failed.


Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.


ALVAREZ: Now I've been talking to Democratic strategists who say it's simple here, you can boil down the message. Do Democrats wanted a tough deal on immigration and Republicans just didn't want to take it up?

That's a one step further than where Democrats have been. Typically, they talk about immigration reform, say Republicans didn't give them what they wanted. But this time it's not only that, but it's -- they also were opting to take a tougher approach to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, again, border numbers are lower than they've been. So, whether that argument can actually hold moving forward is a big question.

BLITZER: Interesting. Manu, take a look at this, 215, 215. That's the totals right now with zero time left remaining. What's going on?

RAJU: I will tell you exactly what's going on, Wolf. We had expected Democrat Al Green to not appear for this vote, which is why we thought three Republican -- they could afford three Republican defections. It appears that Al Green has showed up and is voting against this, which has changed the math completely.

Remember, I have been saying, it all depends on the absences. Absences, we're going to be absolutely critical here. And because the one Republican no vote is Steve Scalise, the House majority leader who has health issues, has been undergoing health issues for some time, he was not expected to be here. They had expected one more Democrat not to be here, Al Green. Three no votes on the Republican side would have been enough to get this through.

But because Green has come back, this is now tied 215 to 215. And that means this vote will fail if it stays this way. This vote is still open. That means there may be some efforts here by the Republican leadership to try to twist some arms and try to urge those three Republican no votes to vote yes, to change their vote, to get this over the finish line.

But if this gavel comes down, Democrats are on the floor right now yelling at the presiding officer to bang the gavel down and close this vote so they can kill it. But there's going to be an effort here by the Republican leadership to try to flip the vote to yes.

But even if they kill this now, Wolf, it could be very short-lived. When Steve Scalise comes back, he's expected back sometime maybe later this month, maybe by March, they will have the votes. As you can see there, one more Republican vote would make it 216 to 215.

So, this could be a short-lived victory for Democrats, but one they would undoubtedly cheer if this 215 to 215 tie stands, which would mean this measure to impeach Mayorkas would fail, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. you need a simple majority to impeach, and right now, as you can see, 215, 215.

Manu, it looks like the speaker, Speaker Johnson, is presiding right now. He's in the speaker's chair. What does that suggest?

RAJU: Well, I mean, it means he's probably going to bang the gavel close any minute here, typically on big votes, the speaker is the one who does it. Otherwise, often they have a designee that goes up to the gavel, goes up into the dais and they bang the gavel close.

And he probably was expecting this vote to pass because we did not know the exact nature of the absences here. But he's under pressure. As you can see, there's a lot of stress on the floor when things are taking an unpredictable turn on the House floor.

You see this drama play out right in front of your eyes. And that's exactly what's happening here as they're probably trying to figure out what they should do. Can they keep this vote open? They could keep the vote open as long as they want. They are the majority. It's a five- minute vote. Technically, they should have been done several minutes ago, but they can decide to keep this open for hours if they wanted to. But we'll see.

Maybe if they can convince those three Republicans, if one of those three Republicans, to vote yes, then it'll be time to just bang the gavel shut, take the loss now and come back later to impeach Mayorkas when Steve Scalise returns to the chamber.

But, undoubtedly, a major twist here, Wolf. The Republican leadership was confident that they would get the votes today, even as they knew it would be by the slimmest of majorities in this razor thin Republican-led House majority.

But because of the Republican defections, the one absence and the Democrats being in full attendance here, that is enough to scuttle their plans of right now to charge Alejandro Mayorkas with high crimes or misdemeanors unless something changes here in the next couple of minutes, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. I just want to be precise, Manu. 215-215, if it's a tie vote, if it ends like that, he is not impeached. You need a simple majority, right?

RAJU: That is absolutely correct, a simple majority in this chamber. A tie vote means a failed vote, and the Republican leadership knew that all along, but they cannot count votes on the Democratic side. The Democrats weren't going to help them out and tell them who is going to come and who is not going to come.

They had one reason why they put the second in the vote series, and so they could see who is here, who is not here, so they can kind of judge the absences. They could know how many votes they could afford to lose.

And I got to back and check, but I assumed Al Green was not here in that first vote, appearing for this vote, which probably caught them a bit by surprise.


Now there's four Republican no votes, Wolf, and I'm not sure if someone said this is going down, I'm going to vote no. But that could be a problem, Wolf, if that fourth vote stays. That could be a problem because if Steve Scalise comes back, when he does come back and votes yes to impeach --


BLITZER: All right. Hold on, Manu. Speaker Johnson is speaking right now. Let's listen.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: On this vote, the yeas are 214, and the nays are 216. The resolution is not adopted.

For what purpose does the gentleman from Utah seek recognition?

REP. BLAKE MOORE (R-UT): Mr. Speaker, I have a motion at the desk.

JOHNSON: The clerk will report the motion.

CLERK: Mr. Moore of Utah moves to reconsider the vote on resolution of House 863.

JOHNSON: The question is on the motion to reconsider. Those in favor say aye.


JOHNSON: Those opposed say no.


JOHNSON: The ayes have it.

MOORE: Mr. Speaker?

JOHNSON: The gentleman from Utah.

MOORE: Mr. Speaker, I request the yeas and nays.

JOHNSON: The yeas and nays are requested. Those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. Sufficient number having risen, the ayes and nays are ordered.

Pursuant to Clause 8 of Rule 20, further proceedings on this question are postponed. Pursuant to Clause 8 of Rule 20, the unfinished is the vote on the motion to suspend the rules and pass HR-7217 on which the yeas and nays ordered. The clerk will report the title.

CLERK: HR-7217, a bill making emergency supplemental appropriations to respond to the attacks in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30th, 2024, no further purposes.

JOHNSON: The question is will the House suspend the rules and pass the bill? Members will record their votes by electronic device. This is a five-minute vote.

BLITZER: All right. I want to go quickly back to Manu Raju who's watching all of this. It looks like it's failed at least so far, Manu, to impeach the second of homeland security. Now, they're taking up the separate legislation, stand alone aid bill for Israel, what, $17.6 billion for Israel, a standalone bill that President Biden has vowed to veto because it's not part of this broader compromise package.

RAJU: And, Wolf, this is also expected to fail, this measure, because of the opposition from Democrats as well as some members on the far right. So, we're going to see two failures here by the -- pushed forward by the House Republican leadership. And just on the Mayorkas vote, this is a setback, a major setback, one that they had pushed hard to get done and expected this would happen swiftly, but blowing back at them even as they expected they would have the votes.

This is exactly what happened, Wolf. I want to give you a sense of it. There are three Republicans actually, there are four Republicans who voted against it, but three of them are actually firm no votes -- Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. They are no votes. A fourth member, Blake Moore, voted against it, but that was for procedural reasons, so they could call off the vote again.

So when this vote happens again in the future to impeach Mayorkas, they almost certainly will have the votes to go forward because Steve Scalise, a majority will be back after recovering from an illness. So, they will be, they'll have a majority vote.

But a short -- a victory, a short-lived victory of -- but still a victory for Democrats in scuttling this effort that Republicans had hoped they could cheer for the impeachment of Mayorkas, making him the second cabinet secretary ever to face high crimes and misdemeanor charges from the United States House of Representatives not happening today because of this failure here. And just in a matter of moments, we do expect this also to fail. This

vote on the floor to approve $17.6 billion in aid to Israel would be 2/3 majority of the House to do it because House Republicans in the freedom Caucus, the far right faction said they would not go along with the leadership's effort because it did not cut spending, and then Democrats said they would not go along with it, also, Wolf, because it is not tied to aid to Ukraine, aid to Taiwan, as well as the new border security package that have been negotiated with the White House, with a handful of senators.

They said they did not want to move on this, on a standalone basis. The White House has issued a veto threat, and also the Democratic leaders in the House said they would absolutely not go for this. So, we do not expect there to be enough Democratic support to get the 2/3 majority to get this Israel aid package through the House.

So two efforts by the new speaker to get through the House, impeachment of Mayorkas and aid to Israel both on the verge of collapsing after this pretty dramatic series of moments here on the House floor, Wolf.


BLITZER: So, just the bottom line on all of this, Manu, if the aid bill for Israel fails and the impeachment vote fails, this would be a huge embarrassment for the Republican leadership in the House.

RAJU: It certainly would, Wolf. And it would raise questions about their legislative strategy, how they plan to move forward from here just on the issue of aid itself. There is no path forward for moving forward on aid to Israel, moving forward on aid to Ukraine, and moving forward on aid to Taiwan. Things that have been called for, for some time, particularly the Ukraine piece at a time of war in Russia, as money from the United States is drying out. There is no path or passage for that.

Also on the border security piece, the Republicans have demanded that they must have border security provisions, new policies in place before they green light all of those other aid packages. Now they have cut a deal with the White House, a handful of senators. That is not good enough for the House Republican leadership, and because they are opposed, Senate Republicans are opposed, and they planned to kill that tomorrow. So, Wolf, we are seeing in just a matter of hours so many things collapse here in front of our eyes. Israel, border security, Ukraine, Taiwan and now the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas, all showing you the perils of managing and governing in this narrowly divided Republican House, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Very significant, historic voting going on right now.

Manu, stand by. You're still going to be very busy up there.

Right now, I want to bring in former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

First of all, what's your reaction to this -- apparently both of these votes, these failed House votes?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is a massive defeat for the leadership of the GOP. Let's keep in mind, so, Gallagher, Buck, McClintock are the three no votes on Mayorkas. That took a lot of courage to that. Blake Moore, that was for a different reason. That took a lot of courage to do that because the 217 or so other Republicans knew this should not have gone forward, but you had three with the courage to say no.

Now, that also portends anything now for the potential Biden impeachment. You know they're going to have to try to bring that forward no matter what evidence they have. If they cannot pass the impeachment of this cabinet member, they're going to have a really hard time getting through the impeachment of Joe Biden. So, this is a big embarrassment for Speaker Johnson.

On the Israel aid, look, everybody wants aid -- almost everybody wants aid to Israel, but the reason Speaker Johnson is putting this forward is to take off the pressure to bring forward Ukraine aid. That's the whole reason Israel aid is coming forward. So thankfully there are enough people that are going to have the courage to say no to that because they say, look, yes, Israel's important, but Ukraine right now is basically starving of shells to defeat the Russians and they can defeat them with our help.

So, this is the kind of stand that needs to happen if we're going to bring Ukraine aid to the floor. And, by the way, if it came to the floor, it would pass overwhelmingly. Speaker Johnson is trying to stop that from happening to assuage his far right base.

BLITZER: It's interesting because the $17.6 billion in proposed aid for Israel normally is something that Democrats and Republicans would support, but in this particular case so many of them are opposing it and President Biden himself says if it were to pass, he would veto it because he wants it to be part of this broader package, including the billions of proposed aid for Ukraine.

KINZINGER: Well, that's correct. And Speaker Johnson and those that are putting this on the floor are hoping that the American people don't understand the game because they're going to go out. They're going to attack after this vote, anybody that voted against this. The American people are smart enough to know this is not about aid to Israel. This is about killing aid to Ukraine, which the American people support.

And so, yes, like there is massive -- you're going to have some on the far left and far right that oppose aid to Israel on the principle of it, but the vast majority of people don't, but they recognize Ukraine has to get done.

BLITZER: Yeah, in a statement that was released by the White House, the president made it clear he supports aid to Israel but he wants it to be part of his broader package, including the aid to Ukraine and the border protection money as well, as well as humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza. That's why he says he would veto a separate aid package for Israel.

Let me go back quickly to Manu Raju, our chief congressional correspondent.

What else are you hearing, Manu?

RAJU: Wolf, this is about to fail to approve, this aid to Israel as we had expected. We expected they needed 2/3 majority to get there. That's roughly about 70 Democratic or so that they'll need. As you can see on your screen, there are 46 Democrats voting in favor of this, 13 Republicans who are voting against this.

They need full attendance. They would need 290 votes in full attendance. There are a couple of absences here, so they are not going to get there. So, this will be two failures by the Republican leadership to getting these bills through on the House.


They tried to move through this Israel bill to try to preempt the Senate's bipartisan action here to try to put pressure on senators to move forward on this clean Israel bill. It does not have spending cuts. Remember, the first action by the new speaker when he came into power was to move an Israel aid package that included cuts to IRS spending. Democrats rejected that, so they would not agree to his cuts.

Then the speaker tried to essentially call their bluff. I'll move on this now without any cuts whatsoever, but Democrats, because they want all the other issues, Ukraine, Taiwan, those border packages as well, are voting against it.

We should listen to this. They are calling this vote almost certainly meaning a failure here, Wolf. He's gaveling it shut. Looks like this bill has failed, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, a failure, indeed. They just announced it. The aid to Israel package, separate package, standalone package as it's called has failed.

Manu, stand by.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, a key member of the House Judiciary Committee right now.

First of all, Congressman, what's your reaction to these two votes?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): It was the right outcome with Secretary Mayorkas, Wolf.

This was a sabotage effort by Republicans to take out the guy in charge of keeping the border secure as the president was negotiating with the most conservative members of the Republicans in the Senate. And so the right result is that Mayorkas will not be impeached tonight. And, frankly, this just reflects a party who will only follow and echo Donald Trump and what he wants and will show no leadership to address the biggest needs of our country faces.

BLITZER: Republican leaders were confident both of these votes would pass. So what changed?

SWALWELL: You saw some courage from Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin who said this isn't how you go about doing this. That reflected what "The Wall Street Journal" was saying, which is if you want changes to the border, support the bipartisan legislation that the president is negotiating.

And so, I hope they don't double down on this and try to bring it back and frankly get back to governing rather than, you know, just pure ruining.

BLITZER: This proposed $17.6 billion standalone aid package for Israel clearly failed tonight as well. President Biden had issued a veto threat. Why was that the right move? From your perspective, how did you vote on that?

SWALWELL: Well, I voted against it. I certainly have supported Israel all the way through. They have a right to protect themselves and also protect against the loss of innocent life. But Republicans were asking us to stand not just with Israel tonight but also with Putin because when you fund Israel at the expense of Ukraine, which is what they wanted to do tonight, you allow Putin to continue to move through Ukraine and threaten our own freedoms here and the freedoms of our allies.

We can do big things in Washington. We can fund Ukraine. We can fund our border. We can fund Israel. That's the way our Senate wants to do it in a bipartisan way. That's the way we need to do it in the House.

BLITZER: Congressman, I want to turn to the bipartisan package that was clearly negotiated in the Senate, not the House, that included aid for Ukraine and Israel appears to have collapsed due to GOP opposition. Listen to what Republicans used to say, used to say about this compromise. Listen to this.


JOHNSON: Any national security package has to begin with the security of our own border.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): The price of getting that done, again, which I support, is going to be meaningful policy changes which slow the flow of illegal immigration across the southern border.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Republicans want to control it and we are going to free up that aid for the Israelis and free up that aid for Ukrainians as soon as we have aid for our own border in order to control that illegal immigration.


BLITZER: So, Congressman, what do you think changed?

SWALWELL: Donald Trump. He said, you know, the quiet part out loud, that this helps Joe Biden. And if you didn't know then, you know now, that MAGA Republicans are not serious, Wolf, about governing. For the last three years, every sentence construct has been noun, verb, border. Well, President Biden negotiated with the second most conservative Republican in the Senate, James Lankford, on the Republican border package. Democrats went along because we want to see action there on the border and now, Donald Trump says, don't do that, that helps Biden, and he's walking away from it.

That's the difference between a party of leaders, what you're seeing from President Biden, and a party of followers.

BLITZER: So, what do you see in the next step in this whole process to try to secure the border?

SWALWELL: We have to go on offense. Every American needs to know that any issues at the border are owned fully by Donald Trump and the people who enable them. There's a State of the Union coming up, and I hope President Biden makes that crystal clear.

And, frankly, shame on Democrats if it's not clear now to voters that we're here serious about governing. We want to get things done.

BLITZER: What do you make of President Biden today blaming Trump for the border deal collapse saying he'll remind voters of that every single day until Election Day?

SWALWELL: We have to. I think Democrats are too nice and we stand on false virtues sometimes. People need to know that Democrats and President Biden on infrastructure, on gun safety, on the chips bill to bring jobs back to America and now on border security, we're the ones that will compromise and work with Republicans to get things done.

And, again, Donald Trump who called for the economy to crash and he hopes that that happens is also now calling for border disorder by encouraging Republicans to vote against this.

BLITZER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks so much for joining us.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.