Congressional correspondent suggests hypothetical 'Speaker Trump' would be the unclassifiable 'duck-billed platypus' of politics

October 24, 2023
Ben Marquis

As House Republicans continue their weeks-long search for a replacement for ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), one name that has consistently been floated by some GOP members is former President Donald Trump.

Such an outcome, while incredibly unlikely, is not totally impossible, and Trump himself has seemingly toyed with the idea that, if realized, would defy all sorts of expectations and norms and traditions, according to Fox News.

In fact, congressional correspondent Chad Pergram likened a hypothetical Trump speakership to a "duck-bill platypus," an animal that defies traditional classifications by officially being classified as a mammal but that shares certain non-mammal-like characteristics with birds and reptiles.

A "Speaker Trump" would be "the 'duck-billed platypus' of politics"

In the immediate aftermath of ex-Speaker McCarthy's unprecedented removal from that position, some House Republicans floated the idea of an equally unprecedented solution -- the nomination of former President Trump to serve in that powerful leadership role, if only temporarily.

According to Pergram, a Trump speakership was "always doubtful," in large part due to the substantial unlikelihood that he would be able to garner the support of at least 217 members of the deeply fractured House GOP caucus that has been unable to agree on anybody to serve as the speaker.

Another likely obstacle would be House rules, shared by Republicans and Democrats alike, that don't necessarily prohibit but strongly discourage members facing felony indictments, of which Trump currently faces four separate indictments, from holding any leadership positions, presumably including as House Speaker.

To be sure, in the unlikely event that former President Trump as a non-member of Congress was to somehow be nominated and subsequently secure majority support in a floor vote to become the House Speaker, there are no rules to prevent that from happening, though he would be a complete anomaly for which there is no precedent or anything to which it could be compared.

As such, Pergram surmised that a hypothetical Speaker Trump "would be the 'duck-billed platypus' of politics," in that, like the odd mammal that sports a duck-bill and webbed feet and lays eggs instead of giving live birth, there would be no easy way to classify or characterize the "political taxonomy" of a Trump speakership that would seemingly defy everything that has been known or understood about Congress and politics since the nation's origination.

Trump has toyed with the idea of being speaker

Former President Trump has waffled with regard to the idea of serving as the House Speaker, something he initially downplayed by stressing that he was "totally" focused on his 2024 presidential campaign, according to The Hill.

Yet, just a day or so later, USA Today reported that Trump said he would consider doing it, as he told an interviewer of his fellow Republicans in Congress, "They have asked me if I would take it for a short period of time for the party, until they come to a conclusion -- I’m not doing it because I want to -- I will do it if necessary, should they not be able to make their decision."

In both instances, however, the former president made it clear that he would help support the GOP as needed to find an appropriate leader who could unify the internally squabbling House Republican Conference.

Trump's name could come up again as search for next speaker continues

As unlikely as a possible Trump speakership may seem, it is not entirely implausible and may in fact float to the forefront of the ongoing debate once more, as House Republicans showed on Tuesday that they are still incapable of reaching a consensus on who from among their members should be the next head of the currently paralyzed House.

According to CBS News, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), who was opposed by Trump and dozens of other members, withdrew his nomination as Speaker-Designate just hours after he won it Tuesday morning when it became clear that he would fall well short of the 217 votes needed in a floor vote to secure the Speaker's gavel.

Emmer is now the third nominee to be withdrawn, joining the likes of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and it will be interesting to see if Trump's name comes up again in future closed-door meetings to choose the next nominee to be the speaker.

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