Former President Donald Trump has declined to say whether or not he’ll stand behind House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) as his quest to become House Speaker was voted down repeatedly this Tuesday.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump told NBC News in a phone conversation when asked if he stands by his endorsement of McCarthy.
“I got everybody calling me wanting my support. But let’s see what happens and we’ll go — I got everybody calling, wanting my support,” Trump said. “That’s all I can say. But we’ll see what happens. We’ll see how it all works out.”
Trump’s comments come after the House adjourned for the day without electing a Speaker. As The Hill points out, Republicans currently hold 222 of the House 434 seats, but no one reached the 218 vote threshold needed to become Speaker after three ballots.
Trump previously pressured those in his party to support McCarthy, even if they were unsure about their support for him.
McCarthy has been a longtime support of Trump, even rushing to Mar-a-Lago in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to reassure Trump that he had his support.
McCarthy’s plight is partly his own fault – since he spent years appeasing the kind of nihilistic right-wingers that may blow up his dreams of the speaker’s gavel.
But his difficulties also come with a large helping of irony. He’s only in such a tight spot because the incoming House GOP majority is so small and is thus offering leverage to critics who would be outnumbered in a larger Republican conference. And the main reason why the midterm election red wave didn’t materialize was because voters in many seats McCarthy expected to win balked at the election denialism and extremism represented by Trump.
And now, with Trumpism effectively returning to power in one half of the capitol, McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes and still win the speakership election.
Update, 1/4/23: This Wednesday, Trump finally threw his support behind McCarthy, posting on his Truth Social platform that “it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN.”
“CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY, & WATCH CRAZY NANCY PELOSI FLY BACK HOME TO A VERY BROKEN CALIFORNIA,THE ONLY SPEAKER IN U.S. HISTORY TO HAVE LOST THE ‘HOUSE’ TWICE! REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT,” Trump continued.
“Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB – JUST WATCH!” he predicted.