WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is in talks to visit Capitol Hill next week as Republicans debate who should be the next speaker of the House following Kevin McCarthy’s stunning ouster, according to three people familiar with the talks.
Some on the far right have floated the idea of Trump as a speaker candidate — perhaps on an interim basis. One of the people cautioned that if Trump goes ahead with the visit, he would be there to talk with Republican lawmakers and not to pitch himself for the role. Trump would most likely attend a closed-door candidate forum that Republicans plan to hold Tuesday evening, ahead of a vote that could happen as soon as Wednesday.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement.
Trump is being encouraged to run by a small group of far-right allies including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. McCarthy, of California, lost his position this week when eight Republicans supported a motion introduced by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz to remove him from the speakership.
Gaetz and Greene are both Trump allies, though Greene voted against the motion to remove McCarthy.
The trip would be Trump’s first to the Capitol since leaving office and since his supporters violently stormed the building in a bid to halt the peaceful transition of power from him to Democrat Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump has been indicted in both Washington and Georgia over his efforts to overturn the election’s results.
A person does not have to be a member of the House to serve as speaker, though that has historically been the case. From time to time lawmakers have thrown their vote to those outside of Congress, often as a protest of sorts against the candidates running.
Until a new speaker is chosen, all legislative work is the House is suspended.
Trump, the early front-runner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, has said that he is fully focused on his presidential run, but has flirted with the idea of running for speaker for years.
Speaking Wednesday during a court appearance in New York, Trump said that “a lot of people” had been calling him about the job, but insisted that he was focused “totally” on his campaign to return to the White House.
Still, he said: “If I can help them during the process, I would do it. But we have some great people in the Republican Party that could do a great job as speaker,” he said
In a social media post early Thursday, he added that he “will do whatever is necessary to help with the Speaker of the House selection process, short term, until the final selection of a GREAT REPUBLICAN SPEAKER is made – A Speaker who will help a new, but highly experienced President, ME, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The possibility of Trump visiting Republicans as they battle amongst themselves for a path forward caught many on Capitol Hill by surprise and concern. The former president’s involvement is sure to further complicate an already complex set of maneuvering the two leading candidates — Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio — will need to make in order to grasp the 218 votes required to win the job.
Both men are likely to face a steep hill to the dais as they try to win the support of both the far-right and moderate factions of the party.
The far-flung idea of Trump being a candidate for the speakership was raised in January by the same far-right members of the conference. In a number of rounds, Republicans like Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Gaetz nominated Trump as their candidate. The effort was ultimately fruitless as McCarthy had the support of more than 90% of the conference
Immediately after news of Trump’s potential visit began to trickle out, Greene, who is one of Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress, posted another endorsement of him for the job on social media. “If Trump becomes Speaker of the House, the House chamber will be like a Trump rally everyday!!” she wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.