Late Tuesday night, Louisiana’s Mike Johnson became the fourth Republican representative nominated for House Speaker since Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy from the position earlier this month. The decision to nominate Johnson, a key architect of congressional efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, drew glowing praise from former President Donald Trump.
“Congratulations to Congressional Republicans! Yesterday was a big and very important day,” Trump wrote on Truth Social early Wednesday morning. “It gave us a quick and easy way forward with 5 candidates who are beyond reproach, and represent the absolute best there is in the Republican Party.”
Congratulations to “the ultimate winner of yesterday’s vote, by a significant margin, Mike Johnson (Louisiana),” he added. “I am not going to make an Endorsement in this race, because I COULD NEVER GO AGAINST ANY OF THESE FINE AND VERY TALENTED MEN, all of whom have supported me, in both mind and spirit, from the very beginning of our GREAT 2016 Victory.”
Trump’s hesitancy to outright endorse Johnson is not surprising given that his first endorsed Speaker candidate, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was stripped of his nomination last week after losing three floor votes. The party narrowly nominated Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) on Tuesday, but he dropped out of the race hours later after Trump trashed him on Truth Social, calling him a “Globalist RINO” who had “never respected” his power. By contrast, and much like his relationship with Jordan, Trump sees a loyal footsoldier in Mike Johnson.
The Louisiana representative, hailing from the same state as failed Speaker candidate Steve Scalise, served on Trump’s defense team in both of his Senate impeachment trials. He was also a key figure behind efforts in Congress to challenge Trump’s 2020 election loss. Johnson organized support from 126 House Republicans for an amicus brief to a Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate millions of votes from four key battleground states won by Joe Biden in 2020. The lawsuit was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.
Robert Costa of CBS News cited his reporting from after the election on Wednesday to note that Johnson was “part of letters and behind-scenes efforts with key outside groups” and that the then relatively unknown congressman “worked with allied Trump groups and conservative leaders in a coordinated way to make sure that whole orbit was working together to help Trump.”
Johnson was also one of 147 Republicans who voted on Jan. 6 to overturn the results of the election. When questioned about these efforts during a press conference on Tuesday night, Republicans booed ABC News reporter Rachel Scott and told her to “shut up.”
“Next question,” Johnson said.
Trump seems enthused by the prospect of such a devout acolyte being third in line for the presidency. “My strong SUGGESTION is to go with the leading candidate, Mike Johnson, & GET IT DONE, FAST! LOVE, DJT,” he wrote on Truth Social.