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UPDATED: Trump Appeared to Be Leading Candidate to Become Next Speaker of the House—Likely to Use the Role to Impeach Biden and Obstruct Pending Cases—Until a Late-Breaking Development Was Announced
This was one of the strangest things ever to happen in U.S. politics, but it happened. Read on for more information on a fast-developing, seemingly impossible news story.
Update #2: 11:48 AM ET on Friday, October 6, 2023
ABC News is now effectively confirming the seriousness of Donald Trump’s October 2023 plot to become the next Speaker of the House by revealing that he planned to execute an identical plot in January 2023—as he sees becoming Speaker as the answer to many of his personal travails. Read more about this stunning development here.
The Trump-for-Speaker plot, as reported by ABC News’ excellent Jonathan Karl, was the brainchild of two infamous insurrectionist Trump advisers: Steve Bannon and Rogan O’Handley (the latter of whom Proof wrote about at length over two and a half years ago, as he was present with Trump at the White House on Insurrection Eve).
Update #1: 10:08 PM ET on Thursday, October 5, 2023
According to the source below, Donald Trump will endorse Jim Jordan (which he has now done) rather than run himself—thus acknowledging that the threat of him running may have been enough to keep anyone other than his favored candidate from entering the race (or, as to Steve Scalise, staying in it). See below for more on all this.
It must be understood that Trump endorsing Jordan—if this is indeed what has now happened—in no way invalidates the reporting below, which is accurate and sourced.
As noted above, it would simply mean that, instead of running himself (as he could have done), Trump has realized that the real value for him lies in threatening a run and then getting Jordan to continue to be his puppet as the Speaker of the House. It should be understood that without this gambit by Trump, there was no way Jordan could have gotten the votes to be Speaker. With it, he may be the prohibitive favorite for the job.
Those who were saying before—and still—that Trump is categorically ineligible to be Speaker due to (a) not being an elected official, or (b) the easily changed House GOP Conference Rule 26, are factually wrong and continue to be so. Just so, those who were saying before and are saying still that the House GOP Conference would have, for the first time in its history, stood up to Trump had he run for Speaker, continue to be positing a long-shot proposition. Fundamentally, as the report below indicates, what Trump wants and needs is the power of the speakership, not its title; if his actions tonight ensured that a Trumpist puppet who otherwise could never have become the Speaker of the House (Jordan) now will be, Trump has accomplished a feat every bit as harrowing at the text below imagines. Why? Because Jordan is an agent of Donald Trump’s will to a degree even Kevin McCarthy, for all his spinelessness, never was.
Original Story: What’s Happening Right Now
It’s a story that only requires two October 5 screenshots to start to tell—and here they are, in sequence.
More Details on This Breaking News
First we learned, from the Associated Press and Fox News, that Donald Trump (1) will travel to the U.S. Capitol next week to attend meetings regarding the election of the next Speaker of the House; and (2) at those meetings he will repeat what he just announced today—which is that he is willing to temporarily accept the speakership to “unify” the Republican Party but would at some unspecified future date step down from the role (a dubious proposition given that he also implicitly promised to give up the American presidency if he lost it in a democratic election and launched a violent coup, instead).
Then we learned from Trump’s top ally in Congress—would-be Trump VP pick Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who famously does nothing without Trump’s approval—that not only will she nominate Trump for Speaker next week but in fact he is now the only person she will vote for.
Which means that Trump—at least for now—wants the job, the fact that House GOP Conference Rules don’t allow a person facing indictments to get it notwithstanding. (Those rules are easily changed, as they only require a two-thirds vote to annul; none doubt that Trump has more than enough support in the conference to force that rule change.)
Greene would not have thrown the entirety of her support behind Trump if he had not wanted her to do so, and wouldn’t have explicitly withdrawn her support from all other candidates had not Trump wanted her to do that as well. And with Trump now in the race, we can be near-certain that another of his top allies in Congress’s lower chamber—Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of just two candidates for the speakership currently, and a man with whom Trump was in contact with on January 6 (and who defied a federal subpoena from the House January 6 Committee without ever being charged by DOJ for Contempt of Congress, a serious federal criminal offense)—will now back out of the race, leaving only Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Mr. Scalise is (a) suffering from blood cancer, (b) a Kevin McCarthy loyalist, and (c) surely not foolish enough to challenge Trump publicly in any way—as he never has before. There is no reason for him to start now, certainly, let alone on this historic, unprecedented stage.
Which would seem to mean that Donald Trump will become Speaker of the House next week, unless an unexpected event intercedes—or something rather expected, like Trump changing his mind and revealing that this was all a stunt. (That said, his now-announced trip to Washington, his use of Ms. Greene to support his “candidacy,” and his proposal of a temporary assumption of the speakership strongly implies it is not a stunt, at least not for the moment.)
As Speaker, Trump would oversee the sprawling Kremlin-backed persecution—and impeachment—of his political rival President Joe Biden, who (for all that Trump has lied about this) has had nothing to do with the 91 state and federal felonies Trump is now facing.
He would also be in a position to tank the American economy and try to blame it on Biden for political purposes. How? By doing what he already said he thinks the GOP should do: keep the goverment shut down until the insurrectionist wing of the GOP, which is nearly 200 strong in the House, gets every demand it currently has—many of which are non-starters inside the White House, the Democratic Party, and candidly every American household which still has some sanity left. If Donald Trump becomes Speaker of the House, fears of a Wall Street market crash would spiral out of control.
Trump could also gain access to some of the most classified intelligence on Earth at a time he is on trial for stealing classified documents. (And there is much suspicion, based largely on Trump’s own words, that he intended to sell those documents to the highest bidder abroad, so obsessed has he been with how much money he says former Republican President Richard Nixon made off items he took from the White House).
And of course Trump would become third in line to the presidency at a time when he is actively stoking violence against the first two people in the line of succession: Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. As to whether he’d also be in a position to impede his federal civil and criminal trials, that’s less clear; the Office of the Special Counsel, at least, is reported to have a dedicated stream of funding that is not tied to the status of the federal government as open or closed—but there can be little doubt that Trump would try to impede these cases, which could lead to new Obstruction of Justice charges and a revocation of his bail on multiple pending felony cases by virtue of him having committed new crimes.
In short, what lies before America tonight is an almost unimaginable nightmare.
It could still be stopped if (a) for the first time ever, the Republican Party stands up to Trump by invoking the rules of the House Republican Conference or simply backing someone else for the speakership; (b) Trump turns out to be playing a prank on the nation in the sickest way imaginable (which admittedly seems unlikely at the moment, given how much he stands to gain if he can briefly become Speaker); or (c) he gets the job but somehow so quickly engages in misconduct that he finds he must resigns it quickly to try to avoid repercussions in his pending state and federal cases. On the other hand, given that Trump, contrary to his public claims, is actually losing to Biden in the majority of national polls and in the majority of battleground-state polls—even if the race is admittedly tight—he has every reason to want secure federal employment through November 2024 as a sort of protection (he might think) against imprisonment if he should lose the 2024 presidential election. One can only imagine the mayhem he could cause, too, in the January 2025 certification of a Biden victory in November 2024.
To be sure, even if Trump takes the job he will not do it—someone else will, possibly the aforementioned Rep. Greene (possibly as a way of winning herself a coveted spot on Trump’s 2024 ticket; indeed this may be the primary reason she aims to see Trump take up the House gavel). But Trump would surely be involved in any major decisions that could (a) tank the American economy in a way Trump would suppose could hurt Biden’s presidential campaign, (b) involve investigating, impeaching, and/or otherwise harassing Biden and his family—especially Hunter Biden—in the runup to November 2024, and (c) in any way thwart or simply just slow his pending civil and criminal cases.
(Right now the chief reason optimists give for believing that Trump will never become Speaker is the theory that he lacks the votes within the GOP to win the nomination. I am not certain where anyone gets confidence that House Republicans, of all people, will stand up to Trump, but that aside, the bigger issue is that the only opponent Trump faces for the job right now—and this opponent might well fold up his tent in the next few hours—is a man with blood cancer who has always done Trump’s bidding. There is simply no viable alternative to Trump once Trump announces his candidacy and easily surpasses, as he would, a hundred supporters in the House Republican Conference. Who—facing those odds and prospective ejection from the Conference and maybe even the GOP—would throw their hat in the ring against Trump? While all of us are right to think and say that almost no one in the House Republican Conference wants Trump to become Speaker of the House, and while all of us are right to think and say that such a development could in the long run threaten the very viability of the GOP as a going concern, this is a different matter from saying that there will be five House GOP members [see the Addendum, below] willing to end their political careers by opposing Trump after having not done so for eight years.)
If a Trump speakership arrives in the next week, America is in uncharted territory to a degree even beyond what we experienced—and were traumatized by—on January 6.
There may yet be one way out of this: if five House Republicans see that the sequence of events described above could lead to a stock market crash, a federal government closure that lasts over a year, a collapse of the U.S. economy, and even widespread civil unrest, they could vote for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to be Speaker of the House rather than Trump—though presumably they would immediately thereafter be ejected from the House Republican Caucus and perhaps even the Republican Party (forcing them to become independents without a political party or any committee assignments other than those the Democrats might give them as a mean to try to save the country).
Per recent major-media reporting, there are right now around 32 House Republicans who theoretically might have a reason to support Representative Jeffries for Speaker.