By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Donald Trump is endorsing Congressman Jim Jordan to replace ousted U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the former president said on Friday, as the chamber’s fractious Republicans try to unify in the aftermath of McCarthy’s historic fall.
“He (Jordan) is STRONG on Crime, Borders, our Military/Vets, & 2nd Amendment. Jim, his wife, Polly, & family are outstanding – He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!” Trump said in a post on his Truth Social app.
The post follows earlier news that Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden, might agree to replace McCarthy for a short time. Fox News also reported that Trump was close to endorsing Jordan.
Two Republican lawmakers are campaigning for the speakership: Representative Steve Scalise, who was second to McCarthy on the leadership ladder, and Jordan, an outspoken conservative from Ohio who has led investigations into the Biden administration.
Republicans, who control the House of Representatives by a narrow 221-212 margin, are due to hold a closed-door forum for candidates seeking the speakership on Tuesday, a meeting that the former Republican president said he could attend. A vote is expected the next day.
But acrimony and resentment over McCarthy’s ouster could make nominating a new speaker a challenge for House Republicans.
Although House rules do not require the speaker to be a member of Congress, Trump already has a lot on his plate as he faces four upcoming criminal trials, two related to his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
House Republican rules prohibit a speaker who is under felony indictment.
Trump spent much of the start of the week in New York, where his civil fraud trial was getting under way, with the former reality TV star drawing the spotlight over repeated verbal attacks on the U.S. legal system, drawing a gag order from the judge.
Trump’s pull with House Republicans has been tested at times this year. Republicans initially did not respond to Trump’s call to elect McCarthy as speaker, waiting three days before doing so and subjecting McCarthy to a grueling 15 rounds of voting.
Trump has been indicted on 91 felony counts in four separate criminal cases including two that accuse him of illegally trying to subvert his 2020 presidential election loss.
Republican congressional leadership sources either did not respond to a request for comment or declined to comment on the possibility of Trump’s becoming speaker.
The meeting on Tuesday would be Trump’s first visit to Capitol Hill since his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to prevent lawmakers from certifying his 2020 White House loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
(Reporting by David Morgan, additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, Costas Pitas, Nathan Layne and Nilutpal Timsina; Editing by Scott Malone, Howard Goller and Gerry Doyle)