But the GOP leader in the House — who felt compelled to remain neutral during the primary so as not to box his own members — wasn’t ready to do it. To calm Trump, McCarthy made him a promise, according to a source close to Trump and familiar with the conversation: the House will vote to cancel the two impeachments against the former president. And — as McCarthy would communicate via aides later that day — they would do it before the August break.
That vote — reflexively made to save his own skin — may have bought McCarthy time, averting a public war with the man who has almost single-handedly rehabilitated his entire career and ensured he won the gavel in January. But it has also put McCarthy in difficulty and the world of Trump intends to keep its promise.
Several Moderate House Republicans Reluctant to Revisit Trump Impeachments – particularly the allegations stemming from the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. (Indeed, although only 10 of their GOP colleagues voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, many more wanted to but were too concerned about threats to their offices and families to do the big step.)
But if McCarthy were to go ahead, those members would have no choice. Given the speaker’s tenuous standing with Trump’s allies in the House and the threat of his ouster hanging over every move, McCarthy has no choice but to bow to the former president’s whims, even if it means putting the vulnerable at the forefront of a precarious political position.
The speaker denied making such a promise to Trump, according to an aide to Hill. From McCarthy’s point of view, he simply indicated that he would discuss the issue with his members, putting him and Trump on a collision course.
McCarthy’s leadership team is divided on the issue.
GOP House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), who many believe is looking to be Trump’s running mate should he win the nomination, has pushed for a delete vote. In late June, she teamed up with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on a resolution that would have cleared Trump of impeachment charges.
But at a recent leadership meeting, moderate Republicans rejected the idea, arguing that any delete vote would be poisonous to reelection of members in districts won by Biden, particularly as polls suggest most Americans disapprove. Trump’s actions on January 6.
It’s also unclear whether a delete vote has enough support to move to the House, given the GOP’s slim five-seat majority. Two incumbent Republicans — Representatives David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) — voted to impeach Trump and are unlikely to support eliminating.
So, in addition to shady moderates who would rather not vote, there is the grip of constitutionally minded conservatives – who, we are told, have privately expressed skepticism that the House has the constitutional authority to overrule the impeachment of a president.
Some senior Republicans, even those who support Trump, fear that a push-out vote would expose divisions in their ranks and embarrass Trump only if the effort stands for one vote and loses.
“I’m for Trump,” a senior GOP insider tells Playbook. “The problem is: if you have an expungement, and it goes to court and fails — which it probably will — then the media is going to treat it like it’s a third impeachment, and it’s going to show disunity within the Republican ranks. He’s a Huge strategic risk ».
For now, some in McCarthy’s leadership team are under the impression that a vote will not take place, with one person calling it « too divisive ». And although McCarthy has publicly sustained the pushsenior Republicans speculate that his words were just an attempt to curry favor with the former president.
“I think it’s more about messaging to please Trump,” a senior GOP aide said.
Supporters of the spungement argue that, despite members’ private reservations about the vote, they will fall in line if McCarthy questions the resolution. That’s not an exaggerated theory: Most Republicans in Congress would go to great lengths to avoid anything that could be seen as a public rebuke to Trump.
Regardless of his likelihood of approval, Trump’s world expects to hold McCarthy accountable for his pledge. Though the former president knows he won’t be able to stop the myriad of accusations that should come his way, he believes the House has the power to erase the stain of impeachment from his name.
That vote, in fact, could become even more important to him as Special Counsel Jack Smith appears poised to criminally charge Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack.
We are told that Trump raises the issue every call he has with McCarthy, prodding the speaker about when he will bring the elimination to the floor. McCarthy, however, has already pushed the timeline back. Perhaps realizing how tough such a vote will be, he recently told the Trump team that the House will vote by the end of September.
But even that time frame doesn’t seem easy: Lawmakers are in session for just 12 days that month and will be working overtime to try to clear a series of contentious spending bills that are sure to divide the party.
Meanwhile, frustration with McCarthy simmers in Trump’s inner circle. The former president and his team think the speaker should have endorsed him months ago, and are baffled that he didn’t. Most recently, McCarthy told the Trump team that he I cannot he supports Trump, because he wants to appear neutral as the House clears his name from the impeachment.
But the Trump team will only believe that excuse for so long. And if McCarthy doesn’t vote soon, they warn, there will be consequences.
This report first appeared in POLITICAL booklet.