Speaker Paul Ryan is supporting Donald Trump for president but, for many Republicans, his support his not enthusiastic enough.
Specially, many member of the Republican House Caucus were upset at a conference call Ryan convened on October 10 where he said he would no longer “defend” the Republican nominee. During the call, Ryan effectively conceded that Trump would lose.
This has prompted rumors that Ryan could be replaced as speaker by pro-Trump forces in Congress. Sean Hannity, a key Trump ally, floated several names to the Washington Post.
HANNITY, who is close to Trump inner circle, tells @washingtonpost that he'd like Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows or Gohmert to run against Ryan
— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 20, 2016
This morning, Congressman Meadows (R-NC) was asked about this on WAAV-AM, a local North Carolina station.
Meadows revealed that this was more than speculation. There is a real effort underway to replace Ryan, according to Meadows, and it’s “picking up some steam.”
“A lot of the people who believe so desperately that we need to put Donald Trump in the White House — they question the loyalty of the speaker,” Meadows said.
He added that there “will be real discussions after November 8 on who our leadership will be and what that will look like going forward.” Meadows said that, since Ryan announced he would no longer defend Trump, he’s been flooded with calls about why Ryan is “not supporting the nominee.”
He also said he was “flattered that Sean Hannity would mention me as a possible speaker replacement.”
Meadows comments today differ substantially from what he has told national outlets. The Washington Examiner reported that Meadows, along with the other two names Hannity floated, “denied any interest in mounting bids to take the speaker’s chair.”
Meadows is known as a collegial presence in Congress. Before being elected in 2012, he operated a sandwich shop. But he has also emerged as hardline conservative and was a key force in ousting former Speaker John Boehner. He introduced a resolution that would have forced his ouster. Soon thereafter, Boehner announced he would resign.
In August, the Office of Congressional Ethics said there was “substantial reason to believe” Meadows violated House rules by “paying his departed chief-of-staff a three-month severance package.” The chief-of-staff, Kenneth West, was forced to leave his post after several women said he sexually harassed them.
Paul Ryan became Speaker in 2015, grudgingly, after no other candidate with broad support emerged. But his relationship with the Republican caucus has been uneasy — particularly the far-right “Freedom Caucus” of which Meadows is a member.