Trump Steps in to Save Speaker Johnson. But for How Long?

Twice in the last few weeks, Donald Trump has reached out to demonstrate his support for embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). At a Mar-a-Lago meeting with the speaker on April 11, he acknowledged how tough Johnson’s job is with such a slim majority.


“It’s not an easy situation for any speaker. I think he’s doing a very good job, he’s doing about as good as you’re going to do,” Trump said.

After the passage of the Ukraine and Israel aid bills, Johnson once again found himself on the precipice. And once again, Trump stepped up to shore up any wavering support from some GOP House members.

“It’s not like he can go and do whatever he wants to do. I think he’s a very good person,” Trump said in an interview with radio host John Fredericks on Monday. “I think he’s trying very hard.”

That didn’t appease some of the hardliners who want Johnson’s scalp.

Massie (R-Ky.) has been singularly unimpressed with Johnson’s leadership.

Massie is one of two co-sponsors of the motion to vacate the speaker’s chair introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). The other is Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). But Greene is holding off on introducing the motion. 


The fact that three Republicans would vote against a Johnson speakership means that even if every other Republican voted to keep Johnson as speaker, he’d lose because of the slim majority that the GOP holds in the House.

Johnson’s only hope would be if some Democrats crossed the aisle and supported him. Right now, there’s a move afoot by Democrats to do exactly that.


A GOP leader staying in power thanks to support from Democrats would have been unthinkable before last year. It’s a sign of just how far conservative stonewalling has pushed the House, with both parties increasingly open to working across the aisle in split government — especially when the alternative is caving to a faction more inclined to tank legislation than compromise.

It will undoubtedly cause other headaches for Johnson, including hardliners possibly triggering multiple votes to terminate his speakership, but many Democrats said they’re willing to keep backing him if he stays in their good graces.

Staying in the Democrats’ “good graces”? There are a lot of Republicans in the House — not just conservatives  — who would be uncomfortable if Johnson had to pay that price to remain speaker. Many might believe it would be better to have Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) as speaker under those terms.

To be clear, Democrats would likely vote to block a motion to oust Johnson, which would be more politically palatable for the caucus rather than a direct referendum on the speaker himself. And there’s always room for last-minute hijinks, a lesson McCarthy learned when he trashed Democrats in a TV interview immediately after they helped him prevent a shutdown — inciting anger on the left at the exact point he needed help. But for now, the support Johnson needs from across the aisle is his to lose.

Purple-district Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.) declined to commit to a specific vote on the motion to vacate but said “the fact that Speaker Johnson found the courage to do the right thing — to do his job — and remain true to his word means a good deal to a legislator like me. Trust is foundational, and it’s something we absolutely did not have with Speaker McCarthy. At the end of the day, I know that the constituents in my district want a functional Congress, not more political infighting.”


Trump may have saved Johnson for the moment, but the former president’s support can be fickle. The speaker has zero room for error going into the November election.

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