Trump offers support for Johnson as he downplays GOP divisions

Nancy Cook and Erik Wasson, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

Former President Donald Trump offered support for embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson — who is fighting to keep his job under pressure from ultraconservative lawmakers— seeking to tamp down on divisions in the Republican caucus.

Johnson traveled to Florida and promised to introduce legislation touching on two of Trump’s favored political issues: border security and election integrity. Trump looked on as Johnson spoke, before taking questions from reporters at his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday.

“I stand with the speaker. We’ve had a very good relationship,” Trump said during the joint press conference.

The backing from Trump, the party’s dominant figure, could be vital to strengthening Johnson’s hold on power. Some Republicans are eager to avoid public fights that make the GOP-led House seem ungovernable months before the November election against President Joe Biden.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a close Trump ally, though, has warned that she could force a vote in the coming days on ousting Johnson. The Georgia congresswoman said that how Johnson handles Ukraine aid — which she opposes — will be a factor in whether she triggers the vote.

“He’s doing a really good job under very tough circumstances,” Trump said Friday of Johnson. “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.”

Asked if he believed the House should change the rules that allow members to remove a speaker, Trump said it was “unfortunate that people keep bringing it up,” saying there were “much bigger problems” facing the country, citing high prices, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war.

“Inflation is back and a lot of bad things are happening in our country,” Trump said. “What’s going on in Israel can end up in a world war,” he added.

A Greene move to oust Johnson could be blocked if Democrats ride to the speaker’s rescue and help vote down her motion. That could leave Johnson politically weakened in the eyes of fellow Republicans, however.

Greene has been in close contact with Trump in recent days but declined to comment on whether Trump backs her threat to oust Johnson. She spoke with him about her concerns about a foreign surveillance bill and hours later Trump took to his Truth Social platform to demand the House kill the bill.


The House did just that on Wednesday as ultraconservatives temporarily stalled the House from debating a foreign intelligence measure in a humiliating defeat for Johnson. The speaker successfully revived the bill, which passed on Friday.

Trump said he was still “not a big fan” of the measure.

Election Integrity

The centerpiece of Friday’s event was a Republican bill Johnson said he would introduce to require proof of citizenship before voting in US elections.

Johnson said the bill would make anyone who seeks to register to vote in a federal election first prove U.S. citizenship, a measure he tied to the crisis on the U.S. southwest border, where Republicans have seized on historic levels of migrants to pressure Biden to crack down on immigration.

“The border is the number one issue in our country,” Johnson said, adding that “election integrity” was tied to border security.

The proposed legislation is entirely a messaging exercise intended to portray Republicans as tough-on-immigration ahead of the election. Noncitizens already cannot vote in American elections by law.

What the legislation does is elevate Trump’s incorrect allegations of interference in the 2020 election, including the idea that noncitizens somehow swayed the outcome of Biden’s victory. Ever since he lost, Trump has continued to traffic in conspiracy theories about the election to the chagrin of top aides who would prefer he focused on the economy or immigration.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus