US House Speaker Johnson joins Trump supporters at hush money trial

By David Morgan

(Reuters) -Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson joined Donald Trump before the former president’s criminal hush money trial resumed on Tuesday, standing silently behind Trump as he railed against the case, the prosecutors and the judge.

The leading Republican in Congress, Johnson is the most senior party member to appear with Trump outside the New York courtroom where Trump is accused of trying to cover up a payment to an adult film star to boost his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump, whose opinions hold great sway among House Republicans, has given Johnson’s speakership vital support in the face of an ouster threat by firebrand Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Last week the House overwhelmingly rejected her effort to push Johnson out.

Johnson is moving forward with legislation that would require proof of U.S. citizenship for registering to vote, echoing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally could vote in November.

The speaker, a Christian conservative who bemoans the moral decline of the United States in campaign fundraising messages, came under fire for his decision to appear at a trial that turns heavily on adultery allegations.

“Have to admit I’m surprised that @SpeakerJohnson wants to be in the ‘I cheated on my wife with a porn star’ club. I guess he’s not that concerned with teaching morality to our young people after all,” Liz Cheney, former Republican co-chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, said on the social platform X.

Trump was also joined on Tuesday by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, seen as a possible Trump running mate; hardline House Republicans Byron Donalds and Cory Mills; and former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Trump has drawn support in the form of personal appearances from several other Republicans on Capitol Hill including Senators Rick Scott, J.D. Vance – another potential Trump running mate – and Tommy Tuberville.

Outside the courtroom, Trump regularly rails against the proceedings, the judge and his November rival, Democratic President Joe Biden.

(Reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Scott Malone, Alexandra Hudson and Howard Goller)

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