Former President Donald J. Trump played an important behind-the-scenes role in brokering a compromise among House Republicans to select Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the House of Representatives, lawmakers and a source familiar with the matter told Breitbart News.
On the historic 15th ballot for the Speakership on Friday night, McCarthy finally sealed the deal and received the votes necessary for the position.
The vote had been underway since Tuesday, when a bloc of 21 Republicans, driven mostly by House Freedom Caucus members, repeatedly voted against McCarthy. But the deal McCarthy and his allies struck with the delegation provided enough opponents to land the California Republican, the speaker’s club.
Chief among those responsible for forging a compromise was Trump, according to several GOP members of Congress and a source familiar with the talks.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who will chair the Judiciary Committee in the 118th Congress and was a key player in those negotiations, praised Trump for his work in getting a deal done.
“This will not be done without the support and leadership of President Trump,” he told Breitbart News.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) also acknowledged the 45th president’s role in the negotiations while speaking to reporters Friday, noting that he “has played a good role in this.”
“I want you to understand, this is a process for the members of Congress, and so this is something where the members have had a lot of time around each other to try to get comfortable, have real conversations and come to an outcome,” he added .
Donalds supported McCarthy on the first day of voting, but when it became clear that he did not have the votes at the time, Donalds began to vote against him and was even nominated for the position in opposition to McCarthy on a number of ballots. The Donalds were among the key voices that rallied behind McCarthy and allowed the 118th Congress to begin business.
Another source familiar with the matter indicated that Trump had been engaged in the process since early December, calling throughout the month to whip up votes and consolidate support behind McCarthy. These conversations were not just one-off, but included ongoing correspondences with many different legislators.
Trump’s involvement continued throughout this week, including in talks last night and this morning ahead of the decisive breakthrough for McCarthy, according to the source.
Friday night he called the reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ), both of whom had voted against McCarthy for days, telling them the matter needed to be resolved. Finally in the 15th round they both voted “present”, helping to lower the voting threshold for McCarthy.
ABC News Investigative Reporter Katherine Faulders first reported the conversations between Trump and Gaetz and Biggs.
Former President Trump called both Andy Biggs and Matt Gaetz as all the drama unfolded on the House floor, I’m told. Both have changed their voices to “present” this round.
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) 7 January 2023
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told Breitbart News on Friday that Trump’s “role was huge” in the negotiations. In particular, she pointed to his statements in support of McCarthy this week and the phone calls he made behind the scenes.
“His statements that he put forward in support of Kevin McCarthy, that was like cement for our 201 that refused to move away from Kevin,” Greene said. “It told a lot of them that, ‘Look, the support is there. Trump told everyone in that statement that ‘I’m calling. I’m working the phones. I’m talking to everyone. It was support that was needed at a critical time when members could have fell away.”
Greene concluded, “And thankfully they didn’t because America really is about to see the most conservative Republican president in the House that they’ve seen in decades.”
DC-based photojournalist Al Drago noted that Greene was also on the phone with Trump on the floor Friday night, and she reportedly tried to get reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) to speak with him after Rosendale voted against McCarthy on the 14th ballot. The moment led to a “heated exchange,” PunchBowl News reported.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, holds her smartphone with former US President Donald Trump on the line, while Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Republican from Montana, waves it off during a meeting of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber on Friday.#SpeakerVote pic.twitter.com/VWvOGfXd9Q
— Al Drago (@Al_Drago) 7 January 2023
It was the perfect phone call. pic.twitter.com/aRpf5pefoU
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) 7 January 2023
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) pointed to his three votes for Trump for speaker, noting that they resulted in Trump making history by receiving more votes for the speakership than any other former president .
“I’m very excited, as is he, that he now holds the record over John Quincy Adams,” Gaetz said.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Gaetz’s third vote for Trump had actually broken the record held by Adams.
Breitbart News’s Ashley Oliver contributed to this report.