WASHINGTON– Former President Donald Trump is officially endorsing Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the pugnacious chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a longtime Trump defender, to succeed Kevin McCarthy as House speaker.
“Congressman Jim Jordan was a STAR long before he made his highly successful trip to Washington, DC, representing Ohio’s 4th Congressional District,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social site shortly after midnight Friday. “He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, and in my suit & Total approval! »
The announcement came hours after Texas Rep. Troy Nehls said Thursday evening that Trump had decided to support Jordan’s candidacy and after Trump said he would be willing to take on the role himself. interim leader if Republicans fail to find a successor after McCarthy’s resounding ouster.
Trump, the current Republican Party front-runner, has taken advantage of the leadership vacuum on the Hill to further demonstrate his control over the Republican Party. House Republicans are deeply divided and some have asked him to lead them — a seemingly fanciful suggestion he also promoted after stoking the divisions that forced McCarthy out as speaker.
Trump had said in recent days that he favored Jordan for the job, according to two Republicans familiar with his thinking who requested anonymity to discuss them. But it was unclear whether he intended to announce it before Nehls’ tweet.
“I just had a great conversation with President Trump about the presidential race. He supports Jim Jordan and I think Congress should listen to the leader of our party,” Nehls wrote Thursday night on X, formerly known as Twitter.
In a later interview with The Associated Press, Nehls, who had encouraged Trump to run for the job himself, said the ex-president wanted Jordan instead.
“After thinking about this and that … he said he was really in favor of supporting Jim Jordan,” Nehls said. “He thinks Jim Jordan is right for the job.”
Jordan is one of two leading candidates for president, along with Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Both are trying to secure the 218 votes needed to win the job and need support from the party’s far-right and moderate factions. It’s unclear whether Trump’s endorsement will force Scalise, the current Republican majority leader, out of the race, or whether either could meet the threshold.
Nehls said that if no current candidate can garner the support needed to win, he will turn to Trump again. “Our conference is divided. Our country is broken. I don’t know who can get to 218,” he said in the interview.
Earlier in the day, Trump was in talks to visit the Capitol next week ahead of a presidential vote that could take place as early as Wednesday, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. Trump confirmed his trip to Fox News Digital and said he would travel to meet with Republicans on Tuesday.
The trip would have been Trump’s first to the Capitol since he left office and since his supporters attacked the building in an attempt to stop the peaceful transition of power on January 6, 2021. Trump was charged with both Washington and Georgia for his efforts to overturn the results of the election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.
Nehls, however, said it was unlikely Trump would make the trip after the endorsement.
Jordan is one of Trump’s biggest defenders on the Hill and led the investigations into prosecutors who indicted the former president. He was also part of a group of Republicans who worked with Trump to overturn his defeat before January 6.
Scalise has also worked closely with Trump over the years.
One of the people close to the project warned Thursday that if Trump continued his visit, he would be there to talk with Republican lawmakers, not to run for the role.
Still, Trump continued to fuel speculation, telling Fox News Digital on Thursday that he would accept a short-term role as president – for a period ranging from 30 to 90 days – if another candidate did not have the votes for earn.
“I was asked to speak as a unifier because I have so many friends in Congress,” he told the outlet. “If they don’t get the vote, they asked me if I would consider becoming president until they find someone for a longer term, since I’m running for president.”
In a social media post earlier today, he added that he would “do whatever is necessary to assist the House Speaker selection process, in the short term, until the final selection of a GREAT REPUBLIC PRESIDENT be made – a president who will help a new and very experienced president, ME, make America great again!”
The Republican conference is filled with members generally supportive of Trump, but it remains to be seen whether they will support him for president. The role is a demanding position — effectively running the Capitol and dealing with hundreds of lawmakers — and requires attention to the arcane details of legislation that Trump showed little interest in even when he was president.
As he dominates his Republican presidential rivals, Trump also continues to travel to early primary states to campaign and has spent much of his time focusing on the four criminal indictments and several civil cases which he is confronted with.
Although it is not necessary for a person to be elected to the House to serve as Speaker, each of the 55 Speakers elected by the House has been a member of the House. From time to time, lawmakers have extended their votes to those outside of Congress, often in protest of running candidates.
Trump helped McCarthy win the presidency in January after 15 rounds of voting. But he urged Republicans to impeach Biden and reject the deals brokered by McCarthy. Last month, he urged the right wing to support a government shutdown if Republicans did not secure deep spending cuts, declaring on social media that the Republican Party “lost big on the debt ceiling, had achieved NOTHING, and now feared being blamed for the debt ceiling.” Budget shutdown. Fake !!! Whoever is president will be blamed, in this case, crooked (as hell!) Joe Biden!”
McCarthy ultimately decided to keep the government open for 45 days without the budget cuts demanded by far-right conservatives. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a longtime Trump ally, cited the ruling as a reason for deciding to impeach the president.
Among those pushing for Trump to become president was Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a longtime Trump ally who did not vote to impeach McCarthy. She posted on X that she thought “he would take the job.”
Nehls, the Texas Republican who was among the first to promote Trump for the job, said before his Thursday night conversation with Trump that he had been contacted “by several members of Congress willing to support and offer speeches from nomination for Donald J. Trump. to be President of the House. »
“Next week,” he wrote on X, “is going to be HUGE.”
___ Colvin reported from New York. AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.