New RNC Chair Whatley accused of abandoning goal to re-elect Trump to instead focus on defending Speaker Johnson from potential ouster

 May 2, 2024

When Michael Whatley took over as chairman of the Republican National Committee in March, he assured everyone that helping former President Donald Trump win re-election in November was his top priority.

Yet, a recent report suggests that Whatley has shifted his attention away from Trump's 2024 campaign and instead has focused his efforts on saving House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) from being ousted by Republican critics, Breitbart reported.

To some, that change in focus for Whatley conflicts with his initial vow to "work all day every day" to ensure victory for Trump specifically and the GOP more broadly.

Whatley playing defense for Speaker Johnson

Politico Playbook reported Wednesday that RNC Chair Whatley addressed most members of the House Republican Conference Tuesday morning to deliver a message of "party unity," which was deemed necessary in response to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) increasingly strident demand that Speaker Johnson be removed from power via a motion to vacate.

Greene was not at that meeting so Whatley sought her out later to personally try to dissuade her from moving against Johnson.

"He said, one, this is not helpful, and two, we want to expand and grow the majority in the House," an unnamed source familiar with the discussion between Whatley and Greene told the outlet. "He was clear that any disruption to the conference on these efforts -- including filing this [motion to vacate], does not help the case for party unity."

The plea for party unity by RNC Whatley at that Tuesday morning meeting came straight from the top and former President Trump, according to an ABC News report, which the chairman made sure to emphasize.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), who was at the meeting, told the outlet of Whatley's words on behalf of Trump, "What he wants is a unified Republican majority, so my message is singing from the same song sheet as President Trump."

Democrats signal support for Johnson with vow to kill Greene's motion

However, the Politico report seemed to suggest that Rep. Greene was unpersuaded by Whatley's appeal to her personally and -- despite opposition to her effort to remove Speaker Johnson by most of her GOP colleagues and reportedly even former President Trump himself -- she has remained steadfast in her plan to move forward with the motion to vacate.

Greene has been persistently critical of Johnson working cooperatively with Democrats to get major bills passed -- including government funding, reauthorization of a controversial surveillance program, and foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel, and others -- and even accused him of being emblematic of the D.C. establishment "Uniparty" while she quipped that he is now "officially the Democratic Speaker of the House," per ABC News.

That last insult came after the stunning announcement from House Democratic leadership that, unlike last year when Democrats helped a handful of Republicans oust ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Democrats would vote to table Greene's motion to vacate Johnson, effectively guaranteeing that the removal effort would fail and Johnson would remain as the speaker.

Whatley said he intended to "work all day every day" to ensure Trump's victory

As for RNC Chair Whatley's apparent efforts to defend Speaker Johnson from an internal GOP coup, Breitbart suggested that his actions seemed to conflict with what he had told the outlet in an interview less than two months ago in early March, when he and new co-chair Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law, outlined their plans to ensure Trump's victory in November.

"This year, the next eight months, are all about making sure that we win in November. Everything we do is going to be focused on winning," Whatley explained. "We are going to have to get out the vote and we are going to have to protect the ballot. Every dollar we raise and we spend at the RNC is going to be focused on those two missions. We are going to work very, very closely with the president’s campaign, and we’re going to make sure that we are a seamless operation."

Whatley went on to discuss the teamwork between himself, Lara Trump, and other GOP organizations to help Trump win re-election, and added, "Collectively, I think the answer is we are going to work all day every day to make sure we are going to win in November."

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