Matt Gaetz: I Had Donald Trump’s Blessing to Oust Kevin McCarthy From Speakership

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was successful Tuesday in his quest to oust Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker of the House position, and now he’s saying he had former president Donald Trump’s blessing.

McCarthy was voted out of the job by a 216-210 tally, and for now, the House is left with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as the Speaker Pro Tem. An election will be held to determine the next official speaker, and McCarthy has already come out and said he won’t be in the running.

My colleague Duke wondered the other day in his article whether Gaetz would proceed with such a dramatic plan without Trump’s approval. We have our answer:

‘I have spoken to President Trump over the last several days,’ Gaetz told reporters on the steps of the Capitol after the vote. ‘I would say that my conversations with the former president leave me with great confidence that I’m doing the right thing.’

McCarthy became the first speaker in American history to be outed from his job in Tuesday’s vote that saw eight members of his own party sink him. Now Republicans will have to deal with the fallout. That not only includes electing a new speaker but dealing with the bloodbath that remains of their party.

Gaetz may say that, but Trump did not seem pleased with the dysfunction within the GOP, at least if you read his social media posts earlier in the day:

Gaetz also spoke in very Trumpian style on the Capitol steps after the vote, invoking one of the former president’s favorite talking points, the D.C. swamp:

Kevin McCarthy is a feature of the swamp. He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favors. We are breaking the fever now. And we should elect a speaker who’s better than Kevin McCarthy.

It will be interesting to see if Trump backs up Gaetz’s version of events. McCarthy and the former president had a friendly, if tumultuous relationship, and it was Democrats who pointed out that the now-former Speaker had made efforts to make nice with the former president:

Democrats met Tuesday morning and were clear they neither supported nor trusted McCarthy.

They cited McCarthy’s actions on January 6th, his trip to Mar-a-Lago to make amends with Donald Trump, his attempt to discredit the January 6th committee, and his reneging on debt limit deal and a budget deal as their reasons.

‘We’re not voting in any way that would help save Speaker McCarthy,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal said ahead of the vote. ‘Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy, and why should they?’

As I recently wrote, Trump is still the alpha dog in the Republican party, considering he’s far and away the leader in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. If he weighs in on the matter of who the next speaker should be, it could tilt the balance for or against some of the candidates. Our own Ward Clark speculated about who might be in the running:

Speaker McCarthy Is Ousted. Who, Then, Shall Replace Him?

This latest drama in the House signifies that turbulent times are ahead in the nation’s capital; after all, it took 15 ballots to confirm McCarthy last January. Whether Trump weighs in remains to be seen.

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