CNN "CNN Newsroom" - TRANSCRIPT Georgia Vs. TCU In Next Week's National Championship Game; Parents Of Idaho Murder Suspect Speak Out For First Time; One Dead, Nine Injured In Alabama New Year's Eve Shooting; McCarthy Commits To Key Concession In Push To Be Next House Speaker; Pressure Increases On Rep.-Elect Santos To Step Aside; 5.4 Magnitude Quake Hits Northern California. Aired 6-7p ET


Date: Jan. 1, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


BROWN: And let's discuss this further with Republican Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio. He's also a member of the House Freedom Caucus. All right, Congressman, you heard Melanie's reporting there. First off, did you take part in this afternoon's conference call?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R), OHIO: I wasn't on the call. I was traveling and so I missed the call. I caught up with a few colleagues to catch the highlights, and sounds like Melanie summed up the call very similarly to my colleagues.

BROWN: So what do you think? Here we are, you know, and it's still not a sure bet that he's going to have the vote even though he made that key concession, reducing the threshold required to force a floor vote on ousting the sitting speaker.

DAVIDSON: Yes, I think the thing that you covered that, you know, some viewers may have glossed over is he's been negotiating for a while now. And so, there's been a list, basically a two-page list of requests from conservatives for a while. It took a long time to get to that. Individual members had their own dialogue with the speaker designate McCarthy, the current leader of our party, and he's worked very hard to get the votes.

He's worked very hard to earn the job as speaker. And we'll see whether this has placated the people that put out a list of demands. He's gone really right up to the line. He's conceded on virtually everything that was on that two-page document.

BROWN: So then, as, you know, as a member of the House Freedom Caucus, will the conservative holdouts in the House eventually back him, you think?

DAVIDSON: Well, the Freedom Caucus doesn't have an official position on this. There'll be members that support --

BROWN: Right, but there are several members. I think it's four out of the five are in the Freedom Caucus.

DAVISON: Yes, that are public. I mean, frankly, there's been a much larger number, and I think that's been alluded to. There's five that want to be named publicly. So there are people that have looked. Morgan Griffith was one who just went public this past week saying, hey, you got some major concessions on the rules, you know, say a single topic bills, bills that you can't appropriate money without an authorizing committee having authorized the appropriations.

We have whole things that are like zombie agencies that we keep cutting checks to that there's no real authorization for in law. So there are things like that that we really need to clean up as a matter of course. So these rules are substantive, and they matter a lot to how the place functions. And I think, you know, while it hasn't been a one-sided thing where Kevin McCarthy has conceded every point in every way.

We've made real progress across the conference. And, yes, there are people on either end that are a little dissatisfied. I think everyone feels that it's been very transactional, and we really look for a philosophy, kind of a mindset change.


And I think what we want to see tomorrow -- see on Tuesday the third, is that, you know, there's a new leadership team in place. We've got a bold agenda, and we're going to start cleaning house, beginning with our own house, get our own house in order.


DAVIDSON: There are plenty of things in the ledge branch we need to do, and then we're going to turn our attention to the executive branch and start holding the Biden administration accountable.

BROWN: OK. Really quick. Well, and there as many investigations Republicans want to do. They need the speaker to move forward, right? And my understanding is to issue subpoenas and so forth. First of all, do you back Kevin McCarthy as speaker? Will you vote for him to be speaker?

DAVIDSON: Yes, Kevin's earned my vote.

BROWN: OK. Do you think he will earn the vote of the holdouts right now? Do you think he will become speaker? And how many holdouts are there? You said there's five publicly, but there's more behind the scenes. Can you give us a better idea?

DAVIDSON: Yes, I think we'll note more about that tomorrow. But, you know, what I'm looking for is what do we want on January 3? And regardless of who the leader of our party is, I think what the country wants, the people that elected us and sent us here with a majority, albeit a small one, is they want us to do the things we promised to do.

And we have to get our house in order in terms of holding Washington, D.C. accountable.


DAVIDSON: We have to get our economy back on the right foot, we have to secure the border, and we have to hold Washington accountable for this double standard that people see has been going on. So --

BROWN: You talk about getting -- oh, go ahead.

DAVIDSON: If you look at the Twitter files, for example, Elon Musk basically bought a crime scene, as one of my colleagues pointed out. And the question is, now that we know what has happened, are we going to do anything about it.

BROWN: OK, really quick before -- that's -- I want to focus on Kevin McCarthy, and I want to ask you also, because you're talking about cleaning house, do you think that Congressman-elect George Santos should resign, given the growing volume of lies?

DAVIDSON: Well, I think that's really up to the people in his district. I mean, they voted for him. I think a lot of people would certainly feel betrayed given all the things that have come out. I know if I lived in his district, I'd be pretty upset. I'm not really happy that anyone in Congress would say such dishonest things.

But as I think, you know, most outlets I haven't followed CNN, have pointed out, you know, this is a long series of people that have told whoppers along the way.

BROWN: Well, yes. This is --

DAVIDSON: You know, Dick Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren earned tenure, professorship at Harvard over Native American background, all kinds of things.

BROWN: This is to a whole another level. I mean, that's --


BROWN: -- a false equivalent. I mean, he basically made up an entirely -- an entire new person. And from everything, from his education, where he worked, about his heritage, about his parents. And so, the voters who voted for that other person didn't vote for the real George Santos. Do you think that Republican leadership needs to be more outspoken about this?

DAVISON: I think they need to be focused on doing what we said we would do. This is one seat out of our, you know, majority. And, you know, will that be taken into account in terms of how George Santos interacts with his peers? Of course, it will.

You know, look, I mean, I went to the United States Military Academy. No question we would want somebody kicked out of the military academy. You don't lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do. That's a clear violation. It's a clear dishonest thing.

And frankly, when Marjorie Taylor Green came to Congress, the Democrats stripped her of committees for things she said before the election. She was honest about what she said, and they kicked her off. So I don't know what's going to happen to Santos, but I do know people are right to have heartburn about it. And, yes, it's on a different level. I mean, it's frankly, it's like Frank Abagnale Jr., you know, "Catch Me If You Can" movie documented a real-life scene where someone created all these fictitious personalities --


DAVIDSON: -- and created huge hoaxes. I mean, this is almost like that to win a seat in Congress.

BROWN: So I'm just curious, like, when you see him in Congress because he's made it clear he's not going to resign, how are you going to interact with him? Are you going to trust him if you have to -- you know, if you're working with him on certain deals? I mean, how do you think that's going to work for you personally?

DAVIDSON: Well, look, I will take him -- I haven't met him yet, so as I get to know him and start working with him, we'll see. I don't know where we'll interact, but, look, you know, there are a lot of my colleagues in my -- these pales in comparison to the kind of whoppers that Adam Schiff told, in my opinion.

So I think Adam Schiff was dishonest with the American public for years and continues to be, and I'm glad --

BROWN: OK, this is --

DAVIDSON: -- that Leader McCarthy's promise to remove him from the Intel Committee long overdue.

BROWN: This -- yes. But again, you know, he -- this -- George Santos ran on, create a whole different human being to run to get voters to vote for him.

DAVIDSON: Look, Adam Schiff get the country to spend tens of millions of dollars and waste most of the entire Trump presidency off something that was a complete hoax. You look at the --

BROWN: That's a different issue. But what we're talking about now is someone who ran for voters, you know, ran for Congress, created -- lied about his identity to get people to vote for him. He is now, one, based on that false identity, now it's coming out he's a completely different person.


So -- but Congressman Warren Davidson, I really appreciate you coming on, as always, sharing your thoughts and insights. Thank you very much, and Happy New Year to you.

DAVIDSON: Thank you, Pamela. Happy New Year.