Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy have helped each other at times of personal political crises

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was stripped off his gavel in a 216 to 210 vote Tuesday. And Donald Trump did not make a public effort to save the embattled Republican leader from losing the ouster vote.

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz on Monday had called for a vote to remove the Californian from the top post in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gaetz is a Trump ally, as are the House GOP hardliners, and Trump might have been the one Republican the mutineers would have listened to.

But Trump was mostly focused on his own serious challenge — he is in New York attending his family empire's fraud trial. But on Tuesday afternoon, he lamented the civil war within the GOP.

"Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren't they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?" he wrote in a social media post.

Trump's statement overlooked that he himself has often torn into Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and targeted others for defeat in primary elections. He has harshly criticized other congressional Republicans as "RINOs" — a disparaging acronym for "Republicans in name only."

Trump, however, did not comment on McCarthy's status as speaker. A tenure that ended nine months after a chaotic election that required 15 rounds of voting in early January.

Here is what we know.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz talks to fellow House members during the Speaker of the House voting at the U.S. Capitol Building last January.
Florida Republican Matt Gaetz talks to fellow House members during the Speaker of the House voting at the U.S. Capitol Building last January.

Trump, McCarthy have come to each other's aid in times of personal political crises

Trump and McCarthy may not be ideological soul mates. For example, Trump supported a debt default and a government shutdown. But they sort of owe each other.

In late January 2021, McCarthy ventured to Mar-a-Lago where Trump was living in a sort of post-Jan. 6 exile. The McCarthy-Trump meeting was the opening balm in restoring Trump, who was badly damaged politically after the violence at the U.S. Capitol just weeks before.

That day, Trump's Save America PAC said the two men had a "very good and cordial" meeting. "President Trump has agreed to work with Leader McCarthy on helping the Republican Party to become a majority in the House," Save America added.

Thanks in part to the detente McCarthy provided, Trump regained the reins of GOP leadership and gave a comeback speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee convention in Orlando a month later.

Trump then backed McCarthy's election as House speaker last January. During the deadlock, House cameras caught U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, on the chamber's floor handing a cellphone with Trump purportedly on the line to anti-McCarthy GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale.

After winning the post, in a late Friday night vote that saw a brief scuffle on the House floor, McCarthy thanked Trump for making, literally, 11th-hour phone calls “helping get those final votes.”

Why did Gaetz want to remove Kevin McCarthy as House speaker?

Gaetz, who represents a Pensacola-area congressional district, has never been a fan of McCarthy. Back in January, Gaetz was a leader in a revolt among Republican lawmakers seeking to keep McCarthy, who served as their leader since 2019, out of the speaker position.

Among the Floridians who joined the "Never McCarthy" chorus were U.S. Reps. Byron Donalds of Naples and Anna Paulina Luna of St. Petersburg. Gaetz and his cohorts, mostly from the hardline House Freedom Caucus, believe McCarthy is too moderate and too willing to compromise.

McCarthy won the speakership on the 15th vote nine months ago, the most rounds of voting to elect a speaker since before the Civil War. To win their votes, McCarthy agreed to a series of concessions, including allowing just one House member to call for a vote to "vacate" the speakership.

The speaker subsequently angered the hard right in his House by negotiating deals with, first, President Joe Biden to avoid a catastrophic debt default and, most recently, to avert a federal government shutdown.

McCarthy, and others, have also speculated that Gaetz's opposition is "personal."

GOP debate: Candidates attack elephant not in the room ... Donald Trump

On Tuesday, Trump's attention was elsewhere — his business fraud trial

Trump has yet to weigh in on the McCarthy saga in the House. Instead, the majority of his posts on the Truth Social platform have been to rail and rage against the judge hearing the $250 million civil suit against the family business empire.

A New York judge last week found Donald Trump and his family business fraudulently inflated the value of Trump Organization property and assets. The values were used to obtain better terms on real estate loans and insurance policies.

Justice Arthur Engoron of New York state court in Manhattan makes it easier for state Attorney General Letitia James to establish damages in a trial taking place this week.

Trump and his companies could be forced to pay damages for the profits they allegedly made through fraudulent business practices. The trial also could lead to Trump being banned from real-estate transactions in New York.

In a mid-morning post on Tuesday, Trump claimed the judge "has been given false and grossly misleading information" by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The post was just one of a series of more than a dozen posts about the case.

On Tuesday afternoon, Engoron issued a partial gag order in the case intended to prevent verbal attacks on court staff. The order applies to all parties in the case, but appears to follow a Trump post. In the missive, Trump called a staff member the "girlfriend" of Senate Majority Leader and New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and included a photo of Schumer and the female law clerk.

Trump also has weighed in on ... late night television

The former president noted the end of the Writers Guild of America strike means the "talentless, low rated CREEPS of Late Night Television are back." Trump didn't name any shows, or on-air personalities in particular, but the former president and leading GOP presidential candidates got roasted on the shows Monday evening.

"I knew there was a reason I didn't want to see it settled — True LOSERS!!!," Trump said the walkout's end.

Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at afins@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Donald Trump could save Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz seeks ouster