The powers-that-be in DC have been waiting for Donald Trump to weigh in on this week's drama surrounding Kevin McCarthy. And in his first public comments on the matter, Trump provides what might be seen as good news and bad news for the House minority leader. Trump did not come out swinging against McCarthy in an interview with the Wall Street Journal—"I like him," he said. On the other hand, Trump avoided a direct answer on whether he supports McCarthy to be House speaker.
- Background: In the days after the Capitol riot, McCarthy told fellow Republicans on a phone call that he planned to call Trump to encourage him to resign. In another call, McCarthy said he held Trump responsible for the violence and said Trump himself had acknowledged some responsibility. The New York Times detailed the calls in stories this week.
- Trump: “He made a call. I heard the call. I didn’t like the call,” Trump tells the Journal, but he added that McCarthy visited Mar-a-Lago and changed his view "when he found out the facts." McCarthy and others "realized they were wrong and supported me.”
- On speakership: Trump's response when asked if he still supported McCarthy for speaker included some wiggle room. “Well I don’t know of anybody else that’s running and I think that I’ve had actually a very good relationship with him,” Trump said. “I like him. And other than that brief period of time, I suspect he likes me quite a bit.”
- Assessing: It will take days or longer to fully assess the fallout among Trump-supporting Republicans in the House. NPR notes that Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly chided McCarthy. But the general view is that as long as Trump doesn't fully break with McCarthy, he should be OK. McCarthy called Trump after this week's news broke to apologize and told Trump he was merely placating critics including Liz Cheney, per NBC News.
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