CNN anchor Brianna Keilar wasn’t buying a Republican congressman’s spin on Wednesday when he tried to blame the ongoing House leadership crisis on Democrats, mockingly noting the “interesting verbal gymnastics” he deployed to make his case.
Two weeks after Kevin McCarthy was removed as Speaker of the House, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) failed once again Wednesday in his effort to secure the gavel. With 22 Republicans voting for other candidates, the far-right firebrand actually lost support in the second round of votes on the House floor, showing his aggressive pressure campaign on GOP moderates was backfiring.
During an appearance on CNN following the latest failed vote, Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)—who briefly ran against Jordan for the speakership—tried his best to accuse Democrats of causing the chaos that’s currently gripping the House.
Asked if Jordan should continue to seek the speakership despite Republicans increasingly voting against him, Scott said the Ohio Republican should keep going, invoking the lengthy process in January to eventually select McCarthy as speaker. At the same time, he added that the House wouldn’t “be in this situation” if the Democratic caucus didn’t vote with eight House Republicans to oust McCarthy.
Keilar pointed out that McCarthy didn’t even face 22 GOP holdouts during his marathon series of votes, wondering if this would lead Jordan and other Republicans to reconsider him as the nominee. Scott, however, continued to lay the fault at the Democrats’ feet.
“But Speaker McCarthy was elected and he was the Speaker of the House,” the Georgia congressman insisted. “He was the largest Republican fundraiser ever for us as House Republicans. The Democrats knew what they were doing when they put up 208 votes to take him out of the speakership. And that’s what created the current situation.”
Interjecting, the CNN anchor declared that “they didn’t take him out of the speakership” because the GOP is in the majority.
“Sure they did,” Scott retorted, prompting Keilar to remind the Republican lawmaker that “you’re the majority.”
Scott, meanwhile, repeatedly noted that Democrats made up “96 percent” of the votes to remove McCarthy from his leadership role, adding that “there were only eight Republicans” who didn’t support the ex-speaker.
“But, sir, who is in the majority?” Keilar asked.
“Well, the Democrats were the majority of that vote,” Scott replied.
“No! Who is in the majority in the House of Representatives?” Keilar shot back.
“The Republicans are in the majority, but the Democrats provided the majority of the votes to take Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership,” the GOP congressman responded.
Keilar, clearly growing exasperated with Scott’s feeble talking points, reminded him that Republicans “provided the key votes” to remove McCarthy and they could provide enough votes on their own to pick a new speaker. Scott, naturally, leaned back into his well-rehearsed spin.
“It’s some interesting verbal gymnastics, I will give you that,” Keilar snarked.
“What do you mean gymnastics?” Scott whined. “I’m just talking about the facts.”
After the congressman once again went through his talking points and claimed it was a “pretty calculated decision” by Democrats to boot McCarthy, the anchor reminded him that it was a Republican who filed the motion to vacate that led to McCarthy’s ouster in the first place.
“It was,” Scott finally conceded. “It was a Republican that had very personal differences with Kevin McCarthy.”
The Georgia Republican isn’t the only one who has attempted to blame the Republican leadership crisis on Democrats. When confronted by reporters on whether the speaker fight proves that “you guys can’t govern,” McCarthy said last week that it was Democratic members who brought “chaos to Congress.”
McCarthy doubled down on his blame game on Wednesday, grousing that “every single Democrat” had “voted to shut down one branch of government.” And it isn’t just GOP politicians who have faulted Democrats. CNN political analyst David Gregory recently wondered how long Democrats would “stand by in the world of identity politics” before becoming “part of the solution.”