Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Speaker Mike Johnson defends joining Trump at his New York trial

By 37ci3 May15,2024


WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump spoke to Speaker Mike Johnson for the first time on Tuesday as he drove from Trump Tower to the Manhattan courthouse. He was silent for 16 days money test and how it drove him away from the campaign.

“He is now in his fifth week in this meritless trial, and he is clearly frustrated that prosecutors went to trial eight years ago, failed to establish any crime he allegedly committed, and that the entire case is proceeding. based on a known liar, Michael Cohen. So it’s an atrocity,” Johnson, R-La., told NBC News in an exclusive interview in his Capitol office on Wednesday.

“We talked about it during the walk. And now, in five weeks, what many of us consider the most critical election year of our lives is locked in court with the soon-to-be official nominee of our party,” Johnson continued. “And it’s wrong in every way.”

As the motorcade entered the courthouse, Johnson said, Trump specifically noted that a large area around the courthouse was cordoned off by law enforcement — a politically engineered move Johnson said was designed to keep Trump supporters away from their leader.

“No one but law enforcement agencies can enter. Why would they create such a large perimeter? “Yes, he is a former president, but he has a full security detail when he travels around the country,” the speaker said. “The reason they’re doing it, I think it’s part of their political goals. They don’t want to see a crowd cheering for President Trump. “I think it’s part of the strategy and I just think it’s a travesty of justice.”

In a wide-ranging interview in his office with a sweeping view of the National Mall, Johnson declined to recommend who Trump should pick as his vice presidential running mate. stood aside by side with several potential job candidates in New York. Johnson said he has “close friends” on the shortlist and that the GOP has a “deep bench.”

In media interviews later last week survived a vote to remove him from powerJohnson was cheerful and It gives an impression of Trump. But on this occasion, the 52-year-old speaker was calm and composed – perhaps a result of his hectic schedule and travel.

“My day is now planned in five-minute increments. Every day the schedule is like a Jenga puzzle, so it’s dizzying,” he said. “I haven’t had a day off in six months.”

Johnson was a low-level, little-known member of the leadership suddenly came to power after a three-week battle to replace ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last fall. But it faced many of the same problems, and an even smaller majority. In a bipartisan vote of 359-43 in the House, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. strength.

Johnson predicted he would not face another vote to remove him as speaker this year. “I don’t expect us to do it again,” he said.

But the speaker’s visit to the Manhattan courthouse Defends Trump It angered Democrats, and there’s no guarantee they’ll save the speaker again if Greene — or any other Johnson foe — casts another discharge vote in the coming months.

“It showed his true colors and why we made the mistake of strategically saving his job with good intentions,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., “because now we’ve allowed him to act like he did with impunity. .”

Johnson, a former litigator and constitutional lawyer, defended his decision to be with Trump in New York, saying the former president did not ask him to attend, but called it a “spontaneous” addition to the trip for some events in the city. .

“I went to New York to address what I believe to be a real threat to our justice system,” he said. “I really believe that and people can interpret that however they want. But I felt it was the right thing to do. And I have an important voice to lend to that.”

Johnson believes lawmakers are reluctant to vote to remove him — a move that could throw the House into chaos for weeks and put vulnerable Democrats and Republicans off the campaign trail in a key election year.

“I think most people in this building agree that the nation desperately needs a functioning Congress right now,” Johnson said. “These are very dangerous times that we live in. There are wars raging all over the world. And we have all the unrest. Even here within the country we had open borders, so we have a potentially very dangerous situation here on our own shores.”

Close profile view of Mike Johnson speaking
Johnson told NBC News that he is not waiting for another offer to vacate.Frank Thorp V / NBC News

“We can’t shut down Congress like we did in October,” he added, referring to the weeks of GOP infighting since McCarthy’s ouster. “And I think reasonable people on both sides of the aisle understand that. I don’t think there’s an appetite to go through that again.”

Even so, Johnson said he doesn’t expect House rules to change and lawmakers to raise the required threshold. force a vote to remove the speaker – Currently only one member of Congress is appointed – he floated in the House GOP retreat in March.

“I don’t expect it to happen before the elections. I mean, it will be for the 119th Congress, not the current one.”

He also rejected calls from some GOP allies to retaliate against Green and the 10 other Republicans who voted to keep his discharge proposal alive. Johnson, a self-proclaimed “Bible-believing” Christian conservative, called himself a “New Testament man” when asked about the Old Testament phrase “an eye for an eye.”

“There is a very different commandment in the New Testament, and you forgive countless times. You don’t get your revenge,” said Johnson, whose office features a bust of Ronald Reagan Jr. and a Louisiana State University uniform emblazoned with the name “Mr. Speaker.” “I don’t hold a grudge. I am not angry with anyone. I want and need to work with all our members. As we sit here today, we have a voice difference. … As the New Testament says, “Bless even those who persecute you.” So that’s what I try to do every day.”

Johnson said he was “bullish” on the November election, predicting that Republicans would increase their majority in the House and take back the White House and Senate in November. The speaker acknowledged “disappointment” in the chaos that has defined the 118th Congress, but he hinted at an agreement with Biden. fund the government by September and securing a separate deal with Democrats last month Billions in aid to US allies Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“We got out of the chaos and kept the government going – we didn’t shut it down. We have fulfilled our great obligations,” said Johnson. “We’re demonstrating here that we can manage even in the most extraordinary circumstances.”

If the GOP manages to take full control of the government — as it did in 2017 when Trump and Johnson arrived in Washington — the speaker said border security would be at the top of the legislative agenda.

“We know an open border and all the chaos and chaos that comes from that, it has to be secured and that has to be the number one priority,” Johnson said, adding that Republicans will also pass bills that address threats from China, crime rates and crime. energy security.

“As I have told President Trump many times, ‘Mr. President, when you win re-election, I mean, you could be arguably the most effective president of modern times, because right now, things need to be fixed,” Johnson said. “I think he’s pragmatically focused on an agenda-driven, policy-driven administration. And that’s something that excites me as a policy person. So I’m very excited about the history that we can make early in Congress.

Asked if he would remain minority leader in 2025 if Republicans lose control of the House — something former California Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi did after the House flipped to Republicans in 2010 — Johnson said he had no idea.

“Right now I’m focused on managing and winning that majority,” he said. “And I’m thinking about the first 100 days and the next Congress with us in the driver’s seat and what the first year in Congress is going to look like. So it’s taking up everything — how little time I have to plan.”



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