Apr 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

“It’s past the trade deadline”: MAGA wary of kicking Johnson out

Former President Trump, left and House Speaker Mike Johnson

Photos: Scott Olson and Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

There's a lot of angst in Trumpworld right now about how to stop a motion to vacate effort waged by one of their own.

Why it matters: As Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) continues to threaten House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), former President Trump's inner circle is concerned about the prospects of another ugly speakership fight with uncertain outcomes.

What we're watching: Top Trump allies believe Johnson is as good of a House speaker as they are going to get this Congress.

  • Plus, the two men get along just fine, and there is no reason to throw the House into chaos and further weaken Republicans' position seven months before Election Day.
  • Trump allies who voted to oust McCarthy — including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)  and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) — have indicated they aren't on board with Greene's call to oust Johnson.

The details: The biggest fear is that if Greene moves forward with her threat, it would risk handing over the reins of the House — and along with that subpoena power — to Democrats, given Republicans' razor-thin margin.

  • Even if House Republicans are able to unite around another speaker, Trumpworld is clear-eyed that it would be nearly impossible to elect Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Trump's top choice following former Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-Ca.) ouster.
  • "It's past the trade deadline," a person close to Trump told Axios.
  • "Now we got to win the Super Bowl with the players you got."

What they're saying: "I respect people on both sides, but it's my hope that we can have this fight after November," Trump ally and GOP strategist Alex Bruesewitz told Axios.

  • "We should all be reunited in getting President Trump back into the White House and winning as many [House] seats as possible," he added.

Driving the news: Trump will appear with Johnson on Friday at Mar-a-Lago for a joint event on election integrity, in a sign of Trump's support for Johnson.

  • Johnson will promote a legislative effort aimed at preventing noncitizens from voting, a source familiar confirmed.

The intrigue: Trump did not make Johnson's job any easier this week, by posting on Truth Social, "KILL FISA."

  • Conservatives sank a procedural vote on the Johnson-backed bill aimed at reauthorizing the government's authority to conduct surveillance on noncitizens abroad, with some critics calling for additional language to be added to require a warrant, citing Trump's accusation it was illegally used to spy on his campaign.

Between the lines: GOP sources noted the dynamics between Trump and Johnson are different than the former president and McCarthy's.

  • While McCarthy and Trump were in constant contact, their working relationship had ebbs and flows, with Trump opting to stay quiet ahead of the vote to oust the California Republican.
  • Meanwhile, one source argues Johnson's policy positions have long aligned more with the former president's agenda.
  • "Mike's always been MAGA whereas Kevin agreed with him when it was politically beneficial," they said.
  • Trump first developed an affinity for Johnson when he saw the lawmaker on TV defending him during his first impeachment, people familiar with the relationship told Axios.
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