Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in two separate interviews this week.
Meadows took issue with the way McCarthy has been leading Republicans in the House, stating on a podcast hosted by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) that he and other GOP leaders aren’t “skating to where the puck is,” utilizing a hockey analogy to deride the highest-ranking Republican in Congress.
“I would give them a grade of ‘D,’” Meadows said, adding that Republicans weren’t forcing Democrats to take enough “tough votes” in the House.
In a separate podcast hosted by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Meadows said that McCarthy probably shouldn’t even become Speaker of the House if Republicans win the 2022 midterms. It is standard practice for the minority leader to assume that role if their party wins control of the chamber.
Instead, Meadows said that his former boss, Trump, should become speaker, saying that he’d “love to see the gavel go from Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump.”
“You talk about melting down, people would go crazy,” he added.
The comments from Meadows, on both programs, highlight a noticeable fissure within the GOP. Many Trump loyalists want the former president to remain the “head” of the party, while others want to keep him in the past and focus their energies elsewhere, likely to bolster their electoral chances. Indeed, recent polling indicates that a plurality of voters overall are turned off by any candidate that “strongly embraces” the former president.
Trump becoming the Speaker of the House would be unprecedented, but not impossible. According to the U.S. Constitution, members of the House are allowed to pick their own leaders and officers, including the Speaker, without any requirement that those individuals are elected to the House itself. Although there has never been any instance of this happening, many Trump supporters have already pushed the idea prior to Meadows’s comments this past week.
It’s also notable that Meadows is demonstrating a continued loyalty to Trump, even after facing threats of contempt charges from the January 6 commission. Although he was somewhat cooperative back in September, Meadows has thus far failed to comply with the commission’s subpoena orders, refusing to testify about what he knows regarding the former president’s thinking on the days leading up to the Capitol building attack.
Last Friday, Commission chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said that Meadows’s failure to comply could land him in legal trouble.
“Mr. Meadows’s actions today — choosing to defy the law — will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena,” Thompson said in a statement last week. “If his defiance persists and that process moves ahead, the record will reveal the wide range of matters the Select Committee wished to discuss with Mr. Meadows until his decision to hide behind the former President’s spurious claims of privilege.”