Former Donald Trump has publicly disparaged House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over his handling of the Jan. 6 hearings, but his would-be challengers for House speaker so far have his back.
The California Republican has drawn the former president's ire for pulling three Republicans from the House select committee after House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two of his choices, which GOP lawmakers largely backed despite concerns that Trump would eventually grow frustrated that he lacked defenders on the panel, reported Politico.
“Kevin made the only decision he could," said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), one of McCarthy's choices for the panel. "What are we going to do? Allow them to just functionally silence entire constituencies? We don’t get good hands all the time in the minority.”
Trump's frustration boiled over in an interview with conservative radio host Wayne Allen Root, when he called McCarthy's move "very, very foolish" and declined to endorse him as speaker if Republicans win back the House majority, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) -- one of his chief rivals for the job -- defended the minority leader.
“Let’s say Kevin says: ‘I’m gonna give you new names,’” Jordan said. “There would have been a problem there. I think she was always going to wind up here because she wanted the partisan show.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a fast-rising Trump ally who replaced Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as GOP conference chair, also defended McCarthy.
“I do think Kevin has handled this appropriately, and the members support how we’ve handled this,” Stefanik said.
Other Republicans said the twice-impeached former president was making McCarthy a scapegoat for problems he didn't cause.
“Ninety-nine percent of the sh*t that we’ve encountered in the last six years, you can directly tie to Trump,” said a senior House Republican, who said the select committee has done a “good job” in making its case.