Donald Trump may have lost control over the far-right groups in Congress he helped create following the contentious House speaker vote, according to one former GOP congressman.
Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, was successfully elected speaker of the House just after midnight on Saturday, following a historically difficult 15 rounds of voting. His path to the speakership was stalled by the GOP’s razor-thin majority in the House and a group of far-right holdouts who opposed his bid, including the likes of Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert.
One of the prominent conservatives who spoke in favor of McCarthy for the speakership was the former president, who ironically was the man to whom the holdouts accused McCarthy of not being loyal enough. Despite the new speaker thanking Trump for helping him secure the position, former Representative Carlos Curbelo said during a Meet the Press interview on Sunday that the speaker election demonstrated how Trump’s influence is waning within the party.
“I thought we saw a lot of weakness,” Curbelo said. “Right at the end, I guess he helped move two or three members, which given the margins was significant. But the first time Trump spoke out and kind of pushed these members, people ignored him. And some of them, vocally, even said, ‘Well, you know, we don’t really care.’ Lauren Boebert said ‘it was nice to get a call, but it doesn’t matter to me.’ Trump is no longer in control.”
Curbelo previously served as a representative for Florida’s 26th Congressional District from 2015 to 2019. Since losing reelection in the 2018 midterms, he has been an outspoken conservative Trump critic, imploring the GOP to reject “Trumpism” as its future. He now makes frequent appearances as a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
Speaking further on Trump and the speaker vote, Curbelo invoked his own time in office during the early years of Trump’s presidency, explaining how the former president used to command considerable influence within the GOP.
“When I was in the House, those first two years of the Trump presidency, all these members [said], ‘Hold on, let’s see what the president’s gonna do, let’s see what the president’s gonna say,'” Curbelo added. “I think that’s over.”
Newsweek reached out to Trump representatives for comment.
McCarthy faced further criticism for expressing gratitude to Trump after the final speaker vote, coming as it did just after the two-year anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot. David Jolly, another former GOP representative from Florida, decried the statement as “disgusting” during a Saturday appearance on MSNBC.
“It’s actually a pretty disturbing moment to see Kevin McCarthy coming off the two-year commemoration of January 6 standing in the hall saying ‘thank you’ to Donald Trump for all he’s done for the party,” Jolly said. “Kind of a disgusting moment right there. And it also shows exactly the kind of person Kevin McCarthy is.”