The House Republican soap opera may have Donald Trump as a guest star next week. The former president has expressed his willingness on Fox News Digital to replace the ousted Kevin McCarthy for a “brief period” as Speaker of the House until there is consensus among Republicans on a candidate to fill the post permanently.
Earlier, it had emerged that Trump has been in contact with congresspeople of his party to go to Capitol Hill next week, probably on Tuesday for the meeting of the Republican conference in which they will discuss possible replacements for Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, according to the Associated Press. One of the sources familiar with Trump’s plans cited by the agency noted that if he went ahead with the visit, he would be there to talk to Republican lawmakers and not to pitch himself for the post, even though some allies continue to push for him to do so.
In his remarks to Fox, Trump goes a step further. “I have been asked to speak as a unifier because I have so many friends in Congress... If they don’t get the vote, they have asked me if I would consider taking the speakership until they get somebody longer-term, because I am running for president,” he said. “They have asked me if I would take it for a short period of time for the party, until they come to a conclusion — I’m not doing it because I want to — I will do it if necessary, should they not be able to make their decision,” the former president added.
Donald Trump has not set foot on Capitol Hill since he was president of the United States. Despite this, his role was decisive in unblocking the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives last January. In television footage, not subject at the time to the usual strict congressional rules, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman most loyal to the former president, could be seen taking her phone to the radicals with the initials DT on the screen. McCarthy himself acknowledged that he owed him the job.
This time, according to AP, Trump wants to take the bull by the horns from the beginning and attend the key meeting to decide McCarthy’s replacement. At the moment there are two congressmen who have announced their candidacy. One of them is Steve Scalise, McCarthy’s number two and of the Republican caucus. The other is Jim Jordan, an avowed Trumpist, one of the radicals who have made McCarthy’s life miserable. He is a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, which encompasses the 20 or so members of the party’s most hard-line wing in Congress, although he is not one of the eight who voted for the historic impeachment of the Speaker of the House. It is not clear that either can be a consensus president.
Although there is no requirement that a person be a member of the House to serve as Speaker, each of the 55 Speakers the House has elected were. From time to time, lawmakers have thrown their votes to those outside Congress, often as a protest against candidates running. Trump himself received the occasional vote from Republican radicals on some of the 15 ballots it took last January to elect McCarthy. Among those who nominated him were Matt Gaetz, the man who has now spearheaded the successful revolt against McCarthy, and pro-gun activist Lauren Boebert. Marjorie Taylor Greene is encouraging him to run now.
Trump referred on Wednesday in passing to the crisis in Congress upon his arrival at a new session of the civil trial for fraud being held against him in a court in Manhattan (New York). Asked by reporters about a proposal by some Republican lawmakers that he replace McCarthy, the front-runner in the Republican primary for the 2024 presidential said he would do what’s best for the country and the Republican Party. He admitted a lot of people have been asking him that, however, he added that there are other great people in the party who could handle the job. “My total focus is to be president,” he stressed.
This Thursday, during which he has been hyperactive on Truth, his social network, he wrote in one of his messages: “[I] will do whatever is necessary to help with the Speaker of the House selection process, short term, until the final selection of a GREAT REPUBLICAN SPEAKER is made - A Speaker who will help a new, but highly experienced President, ME, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Trump would likely win majority support from his conference if he decided to run, in part because of the difficulties involved in facing him, even if they did not like him as a candidate for that office. Almost none of the congressmen who voted in favor of his impeachment for his role in the January 6, 2021, assault on Capitol Hill has managed to repeat as a congressman. Trump as speaker seems unimaginable, but at the time it did not seem conceivable that he could win a presidential election either, and he did so in 2016.
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