The Complex Relationship Between Kevin McCarthy & Donald Trump

Kevin McCarthy made history during his time as speaker of the House of Representatives, though it probably wasn't in the way that he wanted to. To start, it took him a nearly unprecedented 15 elections in the House to get the speakership; the last time that it took multiple votes to elect a House speaker was in 1923. And then his short time as speaker came to an end with a historic first — never before had a speaker been voted out.

Before the vote that booted McCarthy out of the speakership position, he tried to get his Republican colleagues to support him staying in the position. One prominent Republican that he didn't turn to for help? Former president Donald Trump. Theoretically, Trump could have gotten the Republicans to rally behind McCarthy if asked — Trump did involve himself in McCarthy's election for speaker, endorsing him as the best person for the job in January 2023. But when it came to McCarthy losing the position, Trump stayed quiet. It's just the latest twist in McCarthy's relationship with former president Donald Trump.

Kevin McCarthy was loyal to Donald Trump for years

After he was removed from the speakership position, Kevin McCarthy was asked what he thought about Donald Trump inserting himself into the debate over the next speaker of the House — Trump endorsed Ohio representative Jim Jordan for the position. McCarthy just answered, "Only members vote," via CNN. He didn't include any comments on whether or not Trump's input was helpful or necessary, and this seems to go against his former full-throated support of just about anything that Trump did.

In 2016, McCarthy was an early Trump supporter in the weeks before Trump became the Republican nominee for president. And he wasn't shy about talking about his loyalty to Trump during Trump's presidency, and he seemed proud to be so close to Trump. And Trump seemed to return the love, referring to McCarthy as "my Kevin," per The Washington Post.

In one show of loyalty, after Joe Biden won the presidential election in 2020, McCarthy continued with his support for Trump. McCarthy, as House minority leader, was one of 125 House representatives named in a Texas lawsuit with the Supreme Court that aimed to overturn the Electoral College certification of Biden for president in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court had thrown out the Texas case.

Kevin McCarthy acted against Donald Trump's stance on the government shutdown

Kevin McCarthy's championing of Donald Trump did falter, at least temporarily, because of the insurrection on January 6, 2021. "The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," McCarthy said publicly, as reported by Politico. That day, McCarthy called Trump to ask him to tell the rioters at the Capitol to stand down. Leaked audio confirmed that McCarthy was talking with colleagues about asking Trump to resign after January 6. McCarthy backpedaled on that sentiment in public, denying that he would have suggested that Trump resign, according to The New York Times.

Other cracks in the relationship between the two men emerged in 2023. In June 2023, McCarthy went on CNBC where he was asked about the 2024 election and Trump's chances. "Can he win that election? Yeah, he can," McCarthy said. "The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don't know that answer." McCarthy has not yet formally endorsed Trump as the 2024 Republican nominee for president.

And shortly before McCarthy was voted out as House speaker, the government was on the brink of a shutdown, which McCarthy helped avoid by working with Democrats to pass a spending bill. Trump had been in favor of a government shutdown as had many of his hardcore supporters in the House, including Matt Gaetz. Gaetz, who twice voted for Trump to be House speaker in January 2023, was the one who spearheaded McCarthy's ouster as speaker.