Apr 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he stands with Johnson as Greene threatens ouster

Former President Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson hold a press conference at Mar-a-Lago on April 12

Former President Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson hold a press conference at Mar-a-Lago on April 12. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Trump offered much-needed praise Friday for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) as he faces threats to his gavel from his conference's far-right flank.

Why it matters: Trump's assurance that he stands "by the speaker" came as conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has ratcheted up her attacks on Johnson in the latest display of GOP congressional dysfunction.

  • The presumptive GOP presidential nominee's comments, during a joint appearance with Johnson from his Florida club, were a blow to Greene's efforts.
  • Greene asserted she would not back down from potentially pulling the trigger on a resolution to oust Johnson, sending a dear colleague letter on Tuesday accusing him of "serving Democrats."
  • It's "unfortunate that people bring [motion to vacate] it up because right now we have much bigger problems," Trump said.
  • His comments came just hours after a sizable number of conservatives blasted Johnson's decision to vote down an amendment to a bill reauthorizing section 702 of FISA pertaining to warrant requirements.

Catch up quick: Johnson, the least experienced speaker in over a century, has been in the position for roughly five months, following a GOP-led historic ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) less than a year after he took the gavel.

What they're saying: "He's doing about as good as you're going to do and I'm sure that Marjorie understands that and she's a very good friend of mine, and I know she has a lot of respect for the speaker," Trump said.

  • Greene stood by her criticisms of the Louisiana Republican, even after the presser.
  • "I support President Trump and am working as hard as possible to help him win in November and winning a Republican House and Senate majority," she said in a post on X. "But I do not support Speaker Johnson. He funded the DOJ, FBI, and today voted against warrant requirements and FOR FISA!!

State of play: Trump and Johnson appeared together Friday with plans for an election integrity bill focused on immigration and voting.

  • The event appeared designed to potentially throw Johnson a lifeline that wasn't extended to McCarthy, with the former president largely staying quiet during the motion to vacate that took place in October.

While Johnson's relationship with Trump has been less public than McCarthy's, the Louisiana Republican played a key role in pushing back Trump's first impeachment.

  • He also led efforts on an amicus brief pushing back on the 2020 election results.

Between the lines: Trump's inner circle is concerned about the prospects of another ugly speakership fight with uncertain outcomes.

  • Johnson has taken heat from conservatives over certain policy decisions, but multiple GOP lawmakers that supported ousting McCarthy have indicated they would not support a motion to vacate against Johnson at this point in time.
  • And while some conservatives have indicated they aren't ruling out joining Greene if she pulls the trigger on her motion to vacate, none have publicly committed to voting yes.

Zoom out: Trump also told reporters during Friday's press briefing that he will testify in the hush money trial, which is scheduled to start Monday.

Go deeper: MAGA wary of kicking Johnson out

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