On Wednesday evening, Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced on Twitter that he would reluctantly vote for Donald Trump to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House, which marks the second time he has changed his mind about supporting the Republican nominee.
It’s a suspicious pivot from his statements earlier this month, in which he unequivocally condemned Trump following the leak of a tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting a woman. “My wife, Julie and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter,” Chaffetz said on CNN. “Do you think I can look her in the eye and tell her that I endorsed Donald Trump for president when he acts like this and his apology? So I’m not going to put my good name and reputation and my family behind Donald Trump when he acts like this, I just can’t do it.”
Set aside for the moment whether Chaffetz has decided to never look his daughter in the eye again. What gives? Some pundits speculate that he might be jockeying for a promotion. He has been in the spotlight this week for announcing plans to launch “years” of House investigations into Clinton’s record, should she become president. And he was on the short list to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House back in 2015. If he still wants the job, he might be making a political calculus in tepidly supporting his party’s nominee.
A Ryan ouster isn’t unfathomable. FiveThirtyEight reported that his net favorability ratings have been rocky over the last few months as he has struggled to thread the needle of accepting Trump while preventing him from tainting the entire the GOP. And he’s facing an outright rebellion from pro-Trump members of his caucus. Trump himself might goad them on; according to the Times, Trump has “privately said that Mr. Ryan should pay a price for his disloyalty.”
Whether Chaffetz is the man to succeed Ryan is another question, given his previous statements against Trump. But at the very least, it appears that Ryan’s would-be successors detect blood in the water.