Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy doesn’t want to endorse Donald Trump for president yet. So he instead promised that the House would expunge both impeachments against the former president—and do so before the August recess.
Recess begins in less than two weeks.
Politico’s Playbook reported on McCarthy’s pledge to the twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president who now faces a likely third criminal indictment.
McCarthy has so far declined to endorse Trump and last month explicitly said that Trump may not be the strongest Republican candidate for 2024. He has likely avoided an endorsement in efforts to provide cover to all members of his caucus, not placing pressure on any of them, especially the vulnerable ones, to get behind the serial-criminal candidate.
But McCarthy’s refusal to endorse infuriated Trump, who fumed, “He needs to endorse me—today!” on his way to a campaign event in New Hampshire, to whoever was around to hear.
So, to quell the former president, McCarthy pledged that he would get the House to vote to expunge the two impeachments against him, and that they’d get it done before the August recess. And while the deal might’ve gotten McCarthy some time, as Playbook writes, “staving off a public war with the man who almost single-handedly rehabilitated [McCarthy’s] entire career and ensured he won the gavel in January,” the agreement puts McCarthy in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation.
There are 18 House Republicans who won in 2022 in districts that Joe Biden won. Most would be highly disincentivized, electorally, to vote for any resolution that expunges both, even one, of the impeachments against the former president. Two Republican House members had voted to impeach Trump. And without these members, any attempt to expunge the impeachments would fail.
So McCarthy is in a bind: Either make good on his wild promise to the man who helped him secure the speakership to expunge his impeachments—and increase the risk of losing that speakership—or go back on the pledge and welcome the leading candidate’s wrath.