Posts tagged with "House Speaker Kevin McCarthy"

Trump has been privately encouraging G.O.P. lawmakers to impeach Biden

September 13, 2023

On a sweeping patio overlooking the golf course at his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey, former President Donald Trump dined Sunday night with a close political ally, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), reports The New York Times.  

Over halibut and Diet Cokes, Greene brought up an issue of considerable interest to Mr. Trump—the push by House Republicans to impeach his likely opponent in next year’s election.

“I did brief him on the strategy that I want to see laid out with impeachment,” Greene said in a brief phone interview with the Times.

Trump’s dinner with Greene came just two nights before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced his decision on Tuesday, September 12, to order the opening of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, under intense pressure from his right flank.

Over the past several months, Trump has kept a close watch on House Republicans’ momentum towards impeaching Biden. Trump has talked regularly by phone with members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and other congressional Republicans who pushed for impeachment, according to a person close to the former president who was not authorized to publicly discuss the conversations. Trump has encouraged the effort both privately and publicly.

Greene, who has introduced articles of impeachment against Biden, said she told Trump that she wanted the impeachment inquiry to be “long and excruciatingly painful for Joe Biden.”

She would not say what Trump said in response, but she said her ultimate goal was to have a “long list of names”—people whom she claimed were co-conspirators involved in Biden family crimes. She said she was confident Trump would win back the White House in 2024 and that she wanted “to go after every single one of them and use the Department of Justice to prosecute them.”

A person familiar with Trump’s thinking said that, despite his eagerness to see an inquiry move forward, the former president has not been twisting McCarthy’s arm. Trump has been far more aggressive in pushing several members to wipe his own impeachment record clean, the person said—potentially by getting Congress to take the unprecedented step of expunging his two impeachments from the House record.

Trump has not been expressing concern about the possibility that the McCarthy impeachment effort might backfire and benefit Biden, according to two people with direct knowledge of his private statements over several months. Instead, he wondered to an ally why there had been no movement on impeaching Biden once he learned that the House was back in session.

When asked for comment, Trump’s communications director, Steven Cheung, pointed to the former president’s public statements about impeaching Biden. The former president’s public commentary on the possibility of a Biden impeachment has escalated from wistful musings about the Justice Department’s supposed inaction to explicit demands.

“They persecuted us and yet Joe Biden is a stone-cold criminal, caught dead to right, and nothing happens to him. Forget the family. Nothing happens to him,” the former president said at a rally in March.

Research contact: @nytimes

GOP, McCarthy on collision course over expunging Trump’s impeachments

July 25, 2023

House Republicans increasingly find themselves on a collision course over efforts to expunge the impeachments of former President Donald Trump—a battle that pits hardline conservatives who are pressing for a vote against moderates who already are warning GOP leaders that they’ll reject it, reports The Hill.

The promised opposition from centrist Republicans all but ensures that the resolutions would fail if they hit the floor. And it puts Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in a no-win situation.

If he doesn’t stage the vote, he risks the ire of Trump and his allies. If he does, the measures would be shot down—validating Trump’s impeachments just as his legal troubles are piling up.

The issue is just the latest in a long string of debates challenging McCarthy’s ability to keep his conference united while Trump—the GOP’s presidential front-runner who’s also facing two criminal indictments—hovers in the background.

The expungement concept is hardly new. A group of House Republicans—including Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (New York)—introduced legislation last month designed to erase Trump’s impeachments from the historical record.

But the debate reached new heights last week, when Politico reported that McCarthy—after suggesting publicly that Trump is not the strongest contender for the GOP presidential nomination—raced to make amends, in part by promising to vote on expungement before the end of September.

McCarthy has denied he ever made such a promise. But the denial only magnified the issue in the public eye—and amplified the conservative calls for the Speaker to bring the measure for a vote. 

“It should definitely come to the floor and be expunged,” said Representative Byron Donalds (R-Florida), a member of the Freedom Caucus and vocal Trump ally.

“I’m hoping to see it get done before August recess,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) a lead sponsor of one of the resolutions, told reporters, later adding that “these are impeachments that should’ve never happened, and so we would like to expunge them.”

The expungement push is anathema to many moderate Republicans—particularly those facing tough reelections in competitive districts, who are treading carefully not to link themselves too closely with Trump.

Some of those lawmakers are already vowing to vote against the measure if it hits the floor—all but guaranteeing its failure given the Republicans’ narrow House majority—and some of them are proactively reaching out to GOP leaders to warn them against staging such a vote.

“I have every expectation I’ll vote against expungement, and I have every expectation that I will work to bring others with me,” said one moderate Republican; who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, noting “I think my views represent a fair number of principled conservatives.”

“We can’t change history. I mean, that impeachment vote happened. And I just don’t think we should be engaged in the kind of cancel culture that tries to whitewash history.”

 Research contact: @thehill

McCarthy tells Trump supporters not to protest if ex-president is indicted

March 21, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said this week that supporters of Donald Trump should not protest if the former president is indicted—following Trump’s call for people to take to the streets and rally against what he claimed would be his imminent arrest in a Manhattan investigation, reports The Washington Post.

In an all-caps message on his social media platform, Trump called on followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!

“I don’t think people should protest this, no,” McCarthy said during a news conference on Sunday, March 19. “And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that, either.”

Posting on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Trump wrote that he “WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY” and called on people to “PROTEST.” Despite the post from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, his advisers said Trump’s team did not have specific knowledge about the timing of any indictment.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) is investigating Trump’s role in hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

The case centers on a $130,000 payment from Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney, to Daniels—and Bragg is probing whether Trump broke campaign finance laws to reimburse Cohen for keeping Daniels quiet about allegations that she and Trump had an affair. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels and has described the payments as extortion.

Trump’s demand that people take to the streets to denounce a possible indictment stoked fears of violence and echoed rhetoric he used while addressing supporters shortly before a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Five people died in the attack or in its aftermath, and 140 police officers were injured in the assault.

“Nobody should harm one another,” McCarthy said Sunday, following Trump’s call for protests. “We want calmness out there.”

While McCarthy appealed for peace, he also slammed the investigation into Trump and accused Bragg of unfairly targeting the former president. “Lawyer after lawyer will tell you this is the weakest case out there, trying to make a misdemeanor a felony,” McCarthy said during the news conference.

Lawyers and advisers to Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, have expected for days that he will be indicted in the case.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

McCarthy rejects Zelensky’s invitation to Ukraine

March 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit the embattled nation amid his hesitancy to greenlight aid—a request the California Republican quickly shut down this week, reports Politico.

“He has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview.

When informed about the Ukrainian invitation, the Speaker told CNN that he would not take the trip and blamed the Biden Administration for not acting quickly enough to aid Ukraine. Still, McCarthy held his position that the United States should not be sending a “blank check” to Kyiv, repeating a position he initially made last fall that sparked uproar from members of both parties.

“Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN. “I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”

McCarthy’s remarks addressed Zelensky’s comments in the interview about Democrats and Republicans who have visited and seen “the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar.”

“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelensky said.

On February 20, President Joe Biden made a surprise visit o Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, his first since the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Research contact: @politico

Santos temporarily steps aside from House committees amid calls to resign

February 1, 2023

Representative George Santos, the embattled first-term Republican from New York, told his colleagues on Tuesday morning, January 31, that he would temporarily recuse himself from sitting on his congressional committees—the first crack in his defiant stance as he faces multiple investigations and calls from members of his party to resign, reports The New York Times.

Santos, who, since being elected in November has admitted to fabricating parts of his résumé and is under scrutiny for what appears to have been a yearslong pattern of deception, was named this month to serve on the committees on small business and on science, space, and technology.

His decision to step down from his committees came after he met privately with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday night.  McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that Santos had brought up the idea and that it was an “appropriate decision” for now, “until he could clear everything up.”

“He just felt like there was so much drama, really, over the situation,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, explained after a G.O.P. conference meeting, calling the decision “pretty bold.”

Greene noted that the move was not permanent and said it was made in part because House Republican leaders are trying to remove Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, from the Foreign Affairs Committee, although it is not clear they have the votes to do so.

McCarthy has said he wants to remove Omar from the committee because of past comments she made about Israel that Republicans and Democrats criticized as employing antisemitic tropes. But a number of Republicans have said they disagree with the decision, the Times reports.

Some Republicans regarded  Santos’s decision to recuse himself as problematic because it could be seen as an admission of guilt and might raise more questions about how he could effectively represent his constituents while facing multiple investigations and a deep lack of trust from his own party.

House Republican leaders, who hold a slim, four-seat majority, have not called on  Santos to resign, even as he has faced pressure to do so from New York Republicans.  McCarthy has said that the decision should be left up to voters.

“George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process, but ultimately, voters decide,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, said on Tuesday.

poll by Newsday and Siena College on Tuesday found that voters in  Santos’s district overwhelmingly thought he should step down. About 78% of those surveyed said they believed that Santos should resign, including 71% of Republicans.

Of those who voted for  Santos in November, 63% said they would not have done so had they known more about the falsehoods he told about his background and the questions surrounding his campaign finances.

The decision to step down from committee assignments was also contrary to how  Santos has been conducting himself. After weeks of dodging the hordes of cameras and reporters who follow his every move in the Capitol, he has taken on a more combative approach in which he appears to be relishing his notoriety.

He has more forcefully pushed back on allegations against him, including that he stole thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe account that was intended to pay for lifesaving surgery for a disabled veteran’s service dog, which died after it failed to receive the operation.

Channeling former President Donald Trump’s old Twitter persona,  Santos has savaged comedians who have mocked him and positioned himself as a fighter under siege by the liberal news media.

“From interviewing clowns, to creating fake ‘posts’ the media continues to down spiral as their attempt to smear me fails,” he tweeted last week. “I am getting the job I signed up for done, while you all spiral out of control.”

Research contact: @nytimes