Following the sudden ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House Speaker earlier this week, a scramble has ensued among the Republican conference about who should be picked to serve next in that influential and powerful leadership position.
Former President Donald Trump has already weighed in with his choice to be the next speaker and now rumors are swirling that he may actually visit the U.S. Capitol in person in an effort to unify the House GOP around the selection, NBC News reported.
If that visit were to occur, it would be Trump's first return to the Capitol building since prior to the post-2020 election Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021, for which he immediately faced impeachment and now faces related federal criminal charges.
The NBC News report noted that a handful of House Republicans have floated the idea of former President Trump being named as the next speaker -- there is no requirement that speakers be an elected member of the House -- perhaps on a brief interim basis, and while Trump has jokingly flirted with that idea, such an outcome appears to be highly unlikely.
Indeed, Trump has already issued his endorsement in the race for the speakership for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of his staunchest allies and defenders in the House who serves as chair of the Judiciary Committee and is facing off against House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) to be ex-Speaker McCarthy's successor.
Thus, any subsequent visit to the Capitol building would be to try and "unify the party" around Jordan as speaker and not to campaign for the position himself, regardless of any internal or outside efforts to draft him for that role, even on a temporary basis.
And though no plans for a visit have been confirmed, Trump did post on Thursday morning that he "will do whatever is necessary to help with the Speaker of the House selection process, short term, until the final selection of a GREAT REPUBLICAN SPEAKER is made -- A Speaker who will help a new, but highly experienced President, ME, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
The speculation about a potential visit to the U.S. Capitol by former President Trump was first reported by The Messenger -- prior to the revelation that Trump had endorsed Rep. Jordan -- and seemed to suggest that he was "entertaining" the idea of serving as House Speaker himself, if only on a temporary interim basis.
That said, unnamed sources told the outlet that Trump had no real desire to take on the duties of the speakership and instead was more inclined to settle the bitter dispute between ex-Speaker McCarthy and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who triggered the motion to vacate against McCarthy and, along with seven other Republicans, joined with House Democrats to oust McCarthy from his position.
Furthermore, on top of attempting to end the House GOP's internal rift over the Gaetz-McCarthy debacle, the former president also wanted to publicly display his continuing influence over Republicans as the party's de facto leader and relished the opportunity to play the role of kingmaker in choosing the next speaker, per the outlet's anonymous sources.
"Trump isn’t really happy with all this. He doesn’t like the infighting. He doesn’t like Kevin vs. Matt. He wants them to knock it the f--k off and focus on Biden," an unnamed insider told The Messanger. "On the purely political side, Trump is showing he’s the boss of the party if he comes. The other [presidential] candidates just can’t match that."
As noted, Majority Leader Scalise and Chairman Jordan have emerged as the top two contenders to replace Rep. McCarthy as the next speaker, but they may ultimately not be alone in actively seeking or being nominated by somebody else for that position, according to Axios.
The outlet highlighted another half-dozen possible candidates to be speaker, all of whom hold some committee chair or leadership position, who could throw their own hat in the ring or be pushed into the race by others if the bids of Scalise and Jordan are rejected or end up locked in a stalemate.
Per The Messenger, House Republicans will reportedly hold a candidate forum next week, after which it should become more clear who actually is and isn't in the running for the speakership.