After three weeks of debate and the ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Republicans unanimously selected Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., on Wednesday to wield the Speaker’s gavel.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the movement to remove McCarthy, broke silence on Johnson’s speakership, calling him an “honorable, righteous man” who will do “great things for the country.”
While appearing on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast on Wednesday, Gaetz stated that with Speaker Johnson, “the swamp is on the run,” and “MAGA is ascendant.”
“If you don’t think that moving from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendence of this movement and where the power of the Republican Party truly lies, then you’re not paying attention,” said Gaetz.
“I will be right by his side doing everything possible to see that Mike Johnson is successful, to see that the House of Representatives is successful in our oversight goals and that, ultimately, the American people are successful,” Gaetz said. “The other thing—Trump and Mike Johnson get along so well.”
Gaetz was one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The resolution was adopted in a vote of 216 (yeas) to 210 (nays), the first time in history that a Speaker of the House had been successfully removed.
Since the former Speaker’s removal on Oct. 3, House Republicans had argued tooth and nail for weeks over who should succeed McCarthy.
Johnson, a four-term congressman from Louisiana, was nominated for the speakership late Tuesday. Becoming House Republicans’ fourth nominee for Speaker, Johnson was nominated by the party after Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., dropped his bid hours after securing the nomination.
Emmer, along with Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, struggled to form a coalition of support amongst House Republican colleagues and were unsuccessful in winning a majority for the speakership.
Interestingly, Gaetz accused the former Speaker of trying to sabotage the nomination process, saying that Kevin McCarthy tried to block a motion that would have green-lit the voting process.
“It showed everyone that it was actually McCarthy who was working to knife Scalise,” Gaetz told Bannon. “It was actually McCarthy who was working to knife Jim Jordan.”
“It was McCarthy who was working to knife everyone, and he hadn’t figured out a way to knife Mike Johnson, Gaetz said. “And so he was worried there was going to be this great unifying moment, and he scuttled the unifying moment.”
Gaetz further added that McCarthy’s supposed efforts to block the vote on Johnson forced a three-hour delay to restart the nomination process. During this time, McCarthy allegedly tried to find a way to reinstate himself as Speaker while allowing Jim Jordan to be a “deputy Speaker.”
Per Newsweek, Gaetz told Bannon that McCarthy mustered 43 votes on a secret ballot but was foiled as Johnson began to gain steam, which allowed for a roll-call vote so that McCarthy and his supporters would have to identify themselves to the conference.
“When we called for the roll call, do you know how many people voted for Kevin McCarthy? Zero,” Gaetz told Bannon. “He went from promising 100 votes to delivering 43 to 0 willing to vote for him. Everyone in the room knew at that moment that I wasn’t the force for chaos, I wasn’t causing disunity.”
He continued, “For the last three weeks, the reason that the House of Representatives has been paralyzed is because for his own selfish gain. Kevin McCarthy was sabotaging the candidacy of anyone else because he was plotting a return.”