As Republicans in the House of Representatives prepare to decide who should become the next speaker, former President Donald Trump has suggested that he is open to being a “unity” candidate — but he’s also officially endorsed House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for the job.
On Thursday, several media reported that Trump was considering going to the Capitol next week to encourage Republicans ahead of a conference to discuss who should be selected as a candidate for speaker.
Two individuals — Jordan and House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) — have announced that they’re running for the job, and are likely to split the party, forcing several rounds of voting before a consensus is reached. With all Democratic members of the House voting against a Republican option, GOP candidates for speaker can’t afford to lose more than five votes from within the conference.
Trump may speak to Republicans in a party meeting next week in order to “unify the party,” one source told NBC News. But his plans are very much up in the air, and he may not make the trip out to D.C. at all.
If he does appear at the Capitol, it will be the first time since he was president that he’s been to the building — and the first time he’s visited since a mob of his loyalists attacked Congress during the certification of the election he lost to President Joe Biden.
Sources told Politico that Trump is “open to pitching himself as a speaker candidate,” if it helps the party unify behind a single person. Trump told Fox News on Thursday that his “many friends in Congress” have asked him about being speaker.
“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,” Trump said. “I will do it if necessary, should they not be able to make their decision.”
But on Thursday evening, Trump authored a post on Truth Social indicating support for Jordan to be named speaker.
Jordan, a Trump loyalist who vociferously defended the former president during his two impeachments — and who spoke to Trump on the day of the January 6 Capitol attack — “has my Complete & Total Endorsement!” Trump said on the social media platform.
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), the Republican who perhaps pushed the hardest for Trump to be the next speaker, said he spoke to Trump on Thursday evening and agreed to go along with the former president’s endorsement of Jordan. “I’m not going to go against his wishes,” Nehls said on social media.
It’s questionable whether Trump could manage the speakership role, as he has no legislative experience and isn’t familiar with rules of order and minutiae within the House. Indeed, it appeared that Trump didn’t comprehend key aspects of the presidency while he was in the Oval Office — he wrongly claimed, for example, that Article II of the Constitution granted him unlimited powers to do whatever he desired.
But Jordan faces his own challenges in attempting to get elected to the speakership, as he lacks much in terms of legislative accomplishments, and is likely a non-starter for Republicans in the House who want to distance themselves from Trump’s anti-democratic actions. His potential speakership is also being denounced by commentators who say he poses a threat to the country.
“Donald Trump’s announcement backing Jim Jordan for speaker includes more words about the Ohio congressman’s high school and college wrestling record than about what positions he has on politics or policy,” said CNN reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere.
“Jim Jordan tried to obstruct an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s extortion attempt of [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy. Jim Jordan tried to overturn the 2020 election. Jim Jordan refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6th Commission,” lawyer and democracy expert Daniel Miller wrote on X. “Jim Jordan is a danger to the Republic. And he might be the next Speaker.”
Despite Trump’s endorsement, news reports indicate that the battle for the speakership will likely be a long, drawn-out affair.
“Neither current candidate to succeed McCarthy — Jordan or Scalise — has a clear lead in endorsements. … Based on our conversations with lawmakers, aides, backers of Scalise and Jordan and uncommitted House Republicans, it seems highly unlikely that a speaker will be chosen and approved on the House floor by next week,” Punchbowl News reported.
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