If Donald Trump Wants to 'Drain the Swamp,' Why Is He Helping Kevin McCarthy Become Speaker?

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A moment of reckoning may be looming for Donald Trump and his oft-repeated political mantra, “drain the swamp.” He rode into the White House on a wave of voter disgust with the career politicians — “swamp dwellers” — who’ve made the swamp — Washington, D.C. — their home for far too long. Trump harnessed those frustrations into a populist movement that appealed to the average American voter, all the while promising to frogmarch the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer into obscurity. That was a tall order, to say the least.


It now looks as if the GOP will gain control of the House, and we may just find out how serious Trump remains on sending the Republican old guard packing. Current House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is said to be whipping up support for his campaign to be Speaker of the House. According to Fox News, McCarthy, who was first elected to the House in 2006, seems to have the support of the former president.

As for the 2022 midterm elections and his feelings towards Republicans in Congress, Trump said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has his support for speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority Tuesday.

There have been calls from the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative wing of the Republican Party, to replace McCarthy as the party leader in their chamber. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who may be considering his own run for the speakership, has openly criticized McCarthy for not being aggressive enough as minority leader, saying, “… I think Americans want us to actually bring the budget under control, they wanted to secure the border, they want us to just find a way to reduce oil and gas prices, attack inflation, all of that. And you can’t do that by being a passive sideliner or sitting there acquiescing to the Biden administration or trying to get along, you’re going to have to be tough.”


Opposition by members of his party doesn’t seem be affecting Trump’s support of McCarthy, with CNN reporting today:

Former President Donald Trump has been privately encouraging allies to support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speaker, according to two sources familiar with the effort, believing that the California Republican will be an asset down the road should the former president find himself in a contested 2024 primary.

Interestingly, Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose bombastic style has made waves in the House and repeatedly irked Democrats and their easily offended base, seems to be aligning behind the effort to make McCarthy speaker.

“Well, I actually think that’s a bad strategy when we’re looking at having a very, razor-thin majority, with potentially 219. We’re talking about one vote,” Greene said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast about reports of House Freedom Caucus Republicans, such as Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, considering challenging McCarthy.

Again, a peculiar move by someone who prides themselves on being a DC outsider. Greene’s goal may be a practical one: getting revenge on the soon-to-be minority Democrats for stripping her of her committee assignments back in 2021. She may see McCarthy as the one who can best help make that happen. And, let’s face it, there would a certain amount of satisfaction in actually seeing that happen (along with a Squad member or two losing some of their own plum assignments).


Trump, however, may have a harder time justifying his support of McCarthy. In announcing a new run for the White House, possibly as soon as tomorrow, Trump will almost certainly need to rouse his base by promising to, once again, “drain the swamp.” Looking chummy with ultimate DC insider McCarthy may not be seen by some as a good starting point for such an effort.

There are other political headwinds for Trump to consider. The Center for Renewing America, which employs former Trump staffers, is working to solidify the Freedom Caucus’ opposition to McCarthy. And journalist Jonathan Swan took to Twitter with a large list of conservative groups that are calling to delay the vote for House and Senate leadership positions.

Such a delay would serve two purposes: First, it would allow the spotlight to return to the Senate runoff race in Georgia, where the GOP desperately needs a win. Secondly, it would allow extra time for conservatives to mount a serious challenge to the existing leadership structure.


The full House chamber will vote for the next Speaker on January 3; the GOP’s nominee for that role may be voted on tomorrow.


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