It would be a backdoor way for Trump to get into the line of succession for the presidency, leading to the impeachment of the president and vice president and Trump’s return to the presidency.
Steve Bannon has suggested that scenario. And then, in the summer of 2021, Trump appeared with radio host Wayne Allyn Root, who laid out that a version of that very scenario, in which Trump would run for Congress in Florida, get elected, “lead a landslide victory” in the midterms, and then impeach Biden. Other versions have entailed exploiting the loophole that the House Speaker does not need to be an elected member of the House, although that has never happened in history.
“That’s very interesting,” Trump replied on Root’s show, adding that he prefers that to the alternative scenario of Trump running for the U.S. Senate.
John Quincy Adams, in the 19th century, is the only former president to join the House, although he was never the Speaker.
Amid the chaos in the House, which is now on its third day of no Speaker being elected, the idea has been revived, to a limited extent.
On Wednesday, anti-McCarthy Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) appeared for a heated interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. Amid hostile questioning from Hannity, Boebert at one point suggested nominating Trump for Speaker. Hannity had noted that Trump is calling for Republicans in Congress to back McCarthy. While most of the “Never Kevin” Republican faction consisted of onetime Trump loyalists, it doesn’t appear the words of the ex-president have persuaded them to any degree, Boebert included.
And then, in the 7th speaker ballot on Thursday, another Never Kevin member, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), voted for Trump for Speaker, the only member of the House to do so.
Will Donald Trump become Speaker? No, he will not.
First of all, McCarthy has more than 200 votes in the House for Speaker, while Trump has one. There is little indication that a majority of the current House is interested in two years of Trump as their leader.
Plus, it’s unlikely that Trump would actually be interested in serving as Speaker, which is a time- and work-intensive job, albeit one much less powerful than his previous job as president.
In addition, Trump is running again in 2024, and it’s pretty much impossible for someone to simultaneously serve as House Speaker and run for president.
In addition, the original idea of the Trump-as-Speaker fantasy, that Trump would use the Speakership to knock out the president and vice president and re-assume the presidency, appears highly unlikely, especially with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a small Republican House majority.
Removing a president from office through the impeachment process is not an easy thing to do, which Trump likely knows from the two times he was impeached but not removed.
“The experts we contacted said the scenario could work — in theory. And while it would probably be allowed under the law, the likelihood of the scenario playing out in the real world would run into some all-but-insurmountable practical obstacles,” Politifact said when the Trump-for-Speaker idea was floated in 2021.
The site also noted that unless Biden and Harris were impeached simultaneously, one of them could name a new vice president before giving the House Speaker the opportunity to ascend to the presidency.
When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973. President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president, and Ford went on to ascend to the presidency following Nixon’s resignation the following year. Ford, therefore, became the only president never to be elected president or vice president.
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.