But the House Republican leader, who has felt compelled to remain neutral during the primary so as not to lock up his own members, was not ready to do that. To calm Trump down, McCarthy made him a promise, according to a source close to Trump and familiar with the conversation: The House would vote to scrap the two impeachments against the former president. And, as McCarthy would communicate through his aides later that day, they would do so before the August recess.
That vote, made reflexively to save his own skin, may have bought McCarthy some time, avoiding a public war with the man who almost single-handedly rehabilitated his entire career and ensured he won the hammer in January. But he’s also put McCarthy on the spot, and the Trump world plans to force him to keep his promise.
Several moderate House Republicans are reluctant to review Trump’s impeachment trials. especially the charges stemming from the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. (In fact, while only 10 of his fellow Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, several more wanted to but were too concerned about threats to their offices and families to take the plunge.) .
But if McCarthy goes ahead, those members will have no choice. Given the speaker’s tenuous standing with Trump’s allies in the House and the threat of his ouster looming over every move, McCarthy has no choice but to give in to the former president’s whims, even if it means putting the vulnerable first. line in a precarious political position.
The speaker has denied making any such promise to Trump, according to a Hill aide. From McCarthy’s point of view, he simply indicated that he would discuss the matter with his members, which put him and Trump on a collision course.
McCarthy’s own leadership team is divided on the matter.
House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), who many believe could become Trump’s running mate should he win the nomination, has pushed for it to be removed The vote. In late June, she teamed up with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on a resolution that would have cleared Trump of impeachment charges.
But at a recent leadership meeting, moderate Republicans rejected the idea, arguing that any cancellation vote would be poisonous to reelection for members in Biden-won districts, particularly as polls suggest most Americans disapprove of the Trump’s actions on January 6.
It’s also unclear whether a cancel vote has enough support to pass the House, given the GOP’s slim five-seat majority. Two incumbent Republicans, Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), voted to impeach Trump and are unlikely to support removal.
Then, beyond the jittery moderates who would rather not take part in the vote, are the handful of constitutionally-minded conservatives, who, we’re told, have privately expressed skepticism that the House has the constitutional authority to expunge impeachments. of a president.
Some senior Republicans, even those who back Trump, worry that a cancel vote would expose divisions in their ranks and only embarrass Trump if the effort goes to a vote and loses.
“I am for Trump,” a senior Republican Party member tells Playbook. “The problem is: if you have a cancellation, and it goes to the floor and fails, which it probably will, then the media will treat it like a third impeachment trial and show disunity among the Republican ranks. He is a enormous strategic risk”.
For now, some in McCarthy’s leadership are under the impression that a vote will not take place, with one person calling it «too divisive.» And although McCarthy has said publicly backed the pushsenior Republicans speculate that his words were simply an attempt to curry favor with the former president.
“I think it’s more a matter of messaging to please Trump,” said a senior Republican aide.
Supporters of the cancellation argue that despite members’ private reservations about the vote, they will fall in line if McCarthy brings the resolution to the floor. It’s not a far-fetched theory: Most Republicans in Congress will do everything they can to avoid anything that could be seen as a public rebuke of Trump.
Regardless of his likelihood of approval, the Trump world plans to hold McCarthy to account for his promise. While the former president knows he is powerless to stop the myriad of allegations expected to be brought against him, he believes the House has the power to wipe the impeachment stain off his name.
That vote, in fact, could become even more important to him given that special counsel Jack Smith appears poised to criminally charge Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack.
We are told that Trump raises the issue in every call has with McCarthy, hinting to the speaker when he will bring the elimination to the floor. McCarthy, however, has already pushed the timeline back. Perhaps realizing how difficult such a vote will be, he recently told Trump’s team that the House will vote at the end of September.
But even that time frame doesn’t look easy: Lawmakers are in session for just 12 days that month and will be working overtime to try to pass a series of controversial spending bills sure to divide the party.
Meanwhile, in Trump’s inner circle, frustration with McCarthy is boiling. The former president and his team believe the speaker should have endorsed him months ago, and are baffled that he didn’t. More recently, McCarthy told the Trump team that he can not endorse Trump, because he wants to appear neutral while the House clears his name in impeachment.
But the Trump team will only buy that excuse for so long. And if McCarthy doesn’t vote soon, they warn, there will be consequences.
This report first appeared in POLITICAL PLAYBOOK.