Trump says he thinks Speaker Mike Johnson is ‘doing a very good job’ amid ouster threat from Marjorie Taylor Greene

Former President Donald Trump on Friday expressed support for House Speaker Mike Johnson when asked about GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to oust the Louisiana Republican from his speakership.

Standing next to Johnson at a news conference at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said, “We’re getting along very well with the speaker, and I get along very well with Marjorie. We have a speaker who was voted in, and it was a complicated process. And I think very, it’s not, not an easy situation for any speaker.”

Friday’s event at Mar-a-Lago, which sources say was the speaker’s idea, comes as Johnson confronts the most serious challenge to his speakership to date back in Washington as Greene dangles the possibility of forcing a vote to oust him from the top leadership post.

Johnson’s decision to hold an event with the former president provides an opportunity for the speaker to seek political cover as he faces intense pressure from his right flank over a variety of policy issues, including aid to Ukraine, and confronts key decisions over the path ahead.

On Friday, Trump said Johnson is “doing a very good job.”

“And I’m sure that Marjorie understands that, she’s a very good friend of mine. And I know she has a lot of respect for the speaker,” Trump said.

Sources familiar with the matter said Johnson will have another mission in mind during his meeting with Trump: to feel out the former president on a potential Ukraine aid package – a politically perilous policy issue that could draw the ire of Trump, divide the House GOP and end Johnson’s rookie speakership. Some of the speaker’s allies have counseled Johnson to keep Trump in the loop with respect to his plans on Ukraine, cognizant that Trump’s backing – or opposition – could make or break the legislation, as well as Johnson’s speakership.

Johnson and Trump used the joint news conference Friday afternoon to, in part, “draw attention to” what they say are state proposals and lawsuits that would allow non-citizens to vote, a senior Trump adviser said. Currently, federal law bans non-citizens from voting in federal elections, and non-citizens who illegally cast ballots risk fines, up to a year in prison and deportation. Trump, however, has routinely made false claims that Democrats want undocumented migrants to come into the country to impact the election.

In his remarks, Johnson promised a vote on a bill that would require proof of citizenship to vote even though it’s already illegal, setting up a cynical political messaging vote.

“We will do everything within our power to ensure we have free and fair elections in this country… we are introducing legislation requiring every person who registers to vote in a federal election has to prove that they’re an American citizen first,” Johnson said, standing next to the former president.

The issue has become somewhat of a rallying cry for Republicans, who are seeking to stoke fear around immigration and election security ahead of the November election, as voters continue to point to the border issue as a top priority.

Trump spent Friday night on the patio at Mar-a-Lago with Johnson and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Richard Hudson, where a source close to the speaker said the three were coordinating congressional races and potential endorsements from Trump.

Trump’s influence – and the extent to which he wades into the House GOP infighting – has the potential to be a powerful force in the fight over the speakership.

Johnson’s allies have asked Trump to publicly support the speaker or at least stay out altogether of his back-and-forth with House Republicans, according to multiple sources close to both Johnson and Trump.

Trump has already shown how he can make governing even harder for Johnson. Just this week, the former President called on Republicans to kill the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a stance Trump took as the speaker was trying to shepherd a reauthorization bill through his chamber. After Trump’s call to kill the bill, a group of conservative hardliners revolted against GOP leadership, tanking a procedural vote on the floor and upending the push to pass the bill.

On Thursday, Majority Leader Steve Scalise told reporters that members had talked to Trump about FISA over the last 24 hours after Trump called on members to “kill FISA” ahead of the procedural vote.

“There have been some conversations with the president, and I am not going to share those conversations, but I think the two-year sunset has a lot of appeal to a lot of people,” Scalise said.

A two-year sunset for the legislation would mean that if Trump won the presidential election, it would be up to him to reform FISA laws next time around. The modified legislation passed the House on Friday afternoon, but not without angering some conservatives over an amendment that failed by one vote.

Johnson has long been a staunch Trump supporter and worked behind the scenes to support Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. CNN previously reported that after the election, Johnson sent an email from a personal email account to every House Republican soliciting signatures to support a long-shot Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate Electoral College votes from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The lawsuit was eventually rejected by the Supreme Court.

It’s not clear, though, what – if anything – Trump will do now that Johnson faces the threat of a vote to remove him from the speakership.

When Johnson was elected speaker, he was initially embraced by conservatives given that his ideology has long been viewed as further to the right than former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But as speaker, Johnson has faced the challenge of presiding over a historically narrow majority and overseen the passage of major bills, such as government funding legislation, with the support of Democrats, which has infuriated conservatives.

Greene signaled on Thursday that she’ll continue her effort to oust Johnson, even if Trump backs him when they meet on Friday.

Greene said that she views the effort to oust Johnson as “separate” from the former president’s work with the speaker. Asked repeatedly by CNN’s Manu Raju about whether she would still press ahead on her effort to boot Johnson if Trump stands behind him, Greene repeatedly signaled she was not ready to drop the effort.

“I think the motion to vacate is also being supported by quite a few members in our conference. That’s an internal House issue with our elected Speaker of the House. Totally two separate issues. Hopefully, they have a great meeting tomorrow,” she said.

Many House Republicans, however, don’t want to see Johnson stripped of the gavel and fear a return to the chaos and dysfunction that consumed their conference for weeks after conservatives ousted McCarthy in a historic and unprecedented vote last year.

Johnson told House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Wednesday that he had spoken to the former president the previous day. But when asked by CNN if he had sought Trump’s backing amid a potential vote to oust him, Johnson said: “I’m not going to comment on the conversations with President Trump.”

Trump’s team also declined to comment on the call.

Johnson did warn, however, that “It would be chaos in the House” if a vote to oust the speaker were to go forward.

Greene, one of Trump’s most loyal supporters, also told CNN she had recently spoken to Trump but declined to reveal how he feels about her effort.

Johnson and Greene were also spotted speaking on the House floor Friday. Johnson said the two spoke about “all sorts of things,” adding, “Dialogue is important.”

“Marjorie and I agree on our conservative philosophy,” Johnson told reporters. “We just have different ideas sometimes on strategy. The important part of governing in a time of divided government like we have is communication with members and understanding the thought process behind it, that they have a say in it.”

Still, Greene was among the conservatives sharply criticizing Johnson after an amendment they favored failed to be attached to the FISA reauthorization.

“Speaker Johnson was the final vote to KILL the amendment which would stop the warrantless surveillance of Americans. What is the difference between Speaker Johnson and Speaker Nancy Pelosi?” she wrote Friday on X. “I think that’s gonna tell a lot of people what I have been saying.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Clare Foran, Manu Raju, Fredreka Schouten, Lauren Fox, Haley Talbot and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *