The previous month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy spoke on national television that Donald Trump may not be the best 2024 GOP candidate, a move that infuriated the former president. Trump demanded an immediate endorsement from the California Republican, according to individuals privy to the situation.
En route to a campaign event in New Hampshire, the ex-president insisted to his team, “He needs to endorse me — today!” The expectation was that McCarthy, who had hinted at an eventual endorsement, should make amends immediately.
However, McCarthy declined because he felt obligated to remain neutral during the primary to avoid trapping his members. To placate Trump, he made a promise, shared a source close to the former president, that the House might be able to wipe away the two Trump impeachments before the House August recess.
This pledge, made to protect himself, bought McCarthy temporary relief from a possible public conflict with Trump, a man whose backing had resurrected his career and ensured his position as Speaker in January. However, it also placed McCarthy in a difficult situation, with Trump and his supporters expecting him to fulfill his promise.
Several centrist House Republicans are reluctant to reexamine Trump’s impeachments, particularly those related to the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol assault. (Notably, though only 10 GOP colleagues sided with Democrats to impeach Trump following the attack, several others would have done so had they not been concerned about threats to their offices and families.)
Yet, if McCarthy follows through, these members will be forced to confront the issue. With his delicate standing among Trump’s allies in the House and the risk of his removal hanging over his every action, McCarthy appears to have little choice but to accede to Trump’s demands, even if it jeopardizes politically vulnerable members.
Contradicting this narrative, McCarthy, through a Hill aide, denied ever making such a promise to Trump, stating he only indicated a willingness to discuss the issue with his members. This perspective discrepancy puts both McCarthy and Trump on a potential crash course.