Kevin McCarthy seems safe from Trump's wrath for now -- but that could change any time: GOP sources
Donald Trump points and shouts at the media during a speech. (Shutterstock.com)

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has weathered the initial storm after leaked audio revealed his private criticism of Donald Trump, but he still faces some major obstacles to his ambition to become House speaker.

The former president so far seems to support McCarthy, despite the recorded jabs, but GOP insiders say Trump could turn on him at any time, and two sources lose to House conservatives told The Daily Beast that the minority leader would face real difficulty in a potential vote on becoming speaker if Republicans win back the majority but fare worse in the midterms than they hope.

"If a theoretical GOP majority had less than a 20-vote advantage over Democrats, these sources said, McCarthy’s critics would have outsized sway," The Daily Beast reported. "One source noted there are a number of hard noes — likely in the 'high single digits' — who won’t vote for the leader, as well as another 10 swing votes who would likely vote against him if they could deny McCarthy the speakership."

That could become a problem for McCarthy, however, if the margin is less than 20 votes, but GOP sources all seemed to agree that he could ride a "red wave" of 30-plus flipped seats to grab the speaker's gavel.

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Unless Trump decides to turn on him.

One source close to House conservatives said GOP lawmakers all waited to see the former president's reaction to the recordings before speaking out, and one Trump White House source said McCarthy has always seemed to believe he's closer to Trump than Trump does.

“If we’ve learned anything about Donald Trump, it’s that members hustle to score points with him,” said Doug Heye, a top aide to former GOP majority leader Eric Cantor. “But he doesn’t give points, he only takes them away. One at a time.”