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Kevin McCarthy Nearly Demanded Donald Trump Quit

By Gage Skidmore - Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.

Trump May Back McCarthy, But McCarthy Nearly Demanded Trump Resign: The moment of truth is set to arrive today for Rep. Kevin McCarthy. The Republican leader in the House for the last several years, McCarthy is running to become speaker but is opposed by a faction of Republicans who consider themselves “never Kevin” and are opposed to his bid. 

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The weekend before the vote, McCarthy made a key concession. 

According to Fox News, McCarthy has acceded to a demand from those skeptical of him that he makes it easier for members of the House majority to remove the speaker in the middle of Congress. Rules in the current Congress state that a member of the majority party’s leadership must push for such a change. 

“Just as the Speaker is elected by the whole body, we will restore the ability for any 5 members of the majority party to initiate a vote to remove the Speaker if so warranted,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to colleagues this weekend, Fox News reported. 

This means that should the speaker break with the conservative base on any key issue, a small group of Republicans could then push for his immediate removal. 

For instance, should there be a showdown over the budget or the debt ceiling, the speaker could pay the price with his job if the right flank in his caucus is upset with the number of concessions. When John Boehner was the Republican House Speaker during the Obama presidency, there were frequent showdowns over such things, with Tea Party conservatives frequently upset with Boehner over having given up too much.  

Boehner resigned in 2015, for essentially that reason, and while McCarthy had hoped to replace him, Paul Ryan ultimately took over the Speakership and kept it until he retired in early 2019. 

McCarthy also announced a crackdown on proxy voting, which has been a fact of life in Congress since the start of the pandemic. 

“Congress was never intended for Zoom, and no longer will members be able to phone it in while attending lavish international weddings or sailing on their boat. We will meet, gather and debate in person — just as the founders envisioned,” McCarthy added in the letter. 

What about Donald Trump? The former president endorsed McCarthy for the speakership back in June and reiterated that endorsement in November. In mid-December, Trump called for McCarthy opponents in the House to “stand down.” 

“Look, I think this: Kevin has worked very hard. I think he deserves the shot,” the ex-president said in an interview with Breitbart News. “Hopefully he’s going to be very strong and going to be very good and he’s going to do what everybody wants.”

The five Republican lawmakers who are hard no’s on McCarthy — Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, Andy Biggs, R-AZ., Matt Rosendale, R-MT., and Bob Good, R-VA — are all associated with their past support of Trump during his presidency. 

Trump continues to back McCarthy even though a book published in April by New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin reported that McCarthy had considered asking Trump to resign the presidency shortly after the January 6 attack. McCarthy had denied doing so, but audio surfaced soon afterward showing that McCarthy, in a call with Trump enemy Liz Cheney, was “seriously thinking” of suggesting a resignation to Trump that night. 

That conversation was referenced again last week, when the January 6 Committee released their findings and mentioned that episode in a letter. 

“In the days after January 6th, nearly all members of Congress knew what had happened was profoundly wrong,” the letter authored by Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Cheney, in her capacity as vice chair, said. “The Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said so publicly, indicating that President Trump ‘bears responsibility,’ and privately telling his colleagues that he would recommend that Trump resign from office. But just weeks later, the defense of the indefensible began.”

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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.