Trump says he did not push for McCarthy's ouster

 October 4, 2023

Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) stunning ouster on Tuesday sent a shockwave through Washington D.C. and left onlookers blindsided - including President Trump, apparently. 

The Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election denied encouraging Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) to pull the trigger after Gaetz said Trump sanctioned the bold move.

"I did not," Trump said.

McCarthy OUT!

Trump was speaking at a court in New York, where he is facing a civil trial that could determine the fate of his business empire.

While the trial has dominated the news cycle this week, it was overshadowed somewhat by Tuesday's shocking and historic vote to remove McCarthy.

House Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with eight Republicans, led by Gaetz, to deliver the finishing blow.

The dramatic turnabout followed months of infighting between McCarthy and his right flank, which accused him of breaking commitments to control federal spending that he made in January in exchange for their votes.

As part of that agreement, McCarthy ironically handed Gaetz the weapon that would be McCarthy's undoing: a measure allowing any single member of the House to trigger a motion to remove the Speaker.

Gaetz had threatened to use the motion for months, but until the vote Tuesday, McCarthy seemed reasonably secure.

Most Republicans stuck with him in the end, leading some to label Gaetz, rumored to be eyeing the governor's mansion in Tallahassee, a turncoat and a self-interested charlatan. But others have praised Gaetz for standing up to a swampy establishment that many Republicans saw McCarthy as too cozy with.

What does Trump think?

Outside of a few cryptic comments - including a social media post that lamented division in the party - Trump's feelings on the controversy remain a mystery.

“Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our country,” Trump wrote.

Trump had backed McCarthy during his grueling fight for the Speaker's gavel in January, when he was forced to endure 15 humiliating rounds of votes and got into a dramatic on-camera confrontation with Gaetz.

Many of the 20 Republicans who originally resisted McCarthy's bid, such as Lauren Boebert (CO), voted to save his job on Tuesday. And there were some surprising names who voted against McCarthy, like Nancy Mace (SC), a moderate Republican who is not known for being a populist firebrand.

Just eight Republicans voted to dump McCarthy: Gaetz, Mace, Andy Biggs (AZ), Ken Buck (CO), Tim Burchett (TN), Eli Crane (AZ), Bob Good (VA), and Matt Rosendale (MT).

What next?

McCarthy's ouster marks the end of a turbulent chapter in Washington - with uncertainty shrouding the next one.

McCarthy has committed to not seek the position again. Some names being floated include Jim Jordan (OH) and Steve Scalise (LA), who are both McCarthy allies.

Some have even suggested Trump could be Speaker, but he demurred when asked about it Wednesday.

“My focus is totally on [the presidency]. If I can help them during the process, I’ll do it. But we have some great people in the Republican Party that could do a great job as speaker,” Trump said.

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