Speaker Says House GOP Weighing Defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
May 7, 2024Congress
Speaker Says House GOP Weighing Defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference following a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on May 7, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

House Republicans are “looking very intently” at defunding the office of special counsel Jack Smith, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said on May 7.

At a House Republican leadership press conference, the speaker was asked whether that option was being considered given his opposition to Mr. Smith’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

“I think there are serious questions on the part of the American people, and they want to know—they’re asking us—what we can do to ensure that the law is followed. And we’re looking at every possible angle on that instinct,” Mr. Johnson said.

The speaker decried Mr. Smith’s cases against the former president as an example of the Biden administration’s “weaponization” of the justice system against its political opponents—an allegation the administration and Democrats dispute.

As an example, the speaker cited Mr. Smith’s recent admission in a court filing that investigators had rearranged the items in some of the boxes of evidence in his classified documents case against President Trump.

The speaker charged that the special counsel had engaged in evidence tampering, though prosecutors have downplayed the reorganization, positing that the items may have shifted in transit.

“These cases are a coordinated political attack, plain and simple,” Mr. Johnson said, echoing the former president’s stance on the matter.

“They are a clear attempt to keep Donald Trump in the courtroom and off the campaign trail—that’s what this is.

“It’s election interference, it is borderline criminal conspiracy, and the American people see right through it.” 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is leading the charge to defund Mr. Smith on Capitol Hill.

As a vocal supporter of President Trump, she has introduced legislation to that effect in the past, though it never advanced.

Now, she is renewing that call, pressing the speaker to act or be forced out.

“We are fed up with the weaponized government, the weaponized Department of Justice that is being used as Joe Biden’s campaign arm,” she said on May 7 on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.

Recalling special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe, she said she wanted the Justice Department’s “political prosecutions” of President Trump to stop.

“I want the entire special counsel defunding [sic], and I want it to end. And I think our Republican speaker can make that happen.”

Embattled Speaker

Ms. Greene identified defunding the special counsel as her top demand for Mr. Johnson if he wishes to keep his seat.

The speaker has faced increasing dissatisfaction from members of his own conference as he navigates a historically small House majority.

Ms. Greene, unhappy with his recent legislative moves, filed a motion to strip him of the gavel in March. She hasn’t called for a vote on the matter yet, though she promised on May 1 to do so this week.

“I think every member of Congress needs to take that vote and let the chips fall where they may,” she said last week.

While Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have backed Mr. Johnson’s removal, other Republicans have distanced themselves from the idea—including President Trump.

The former president has repeatedly defended Mr. Johnson amid his ally’s attacks, noting the difficult position the speaker is in.

“Look, we have a majority of one, OK? So, it’s not like he can go and do whatever he wants to do,” President Trump said on April 22.

It’s not often that Ms. Greene finds herself at odds with President Trump, and that fact could be the reason she has yet to act on her warnings.

May 7 marked the second consecutive day the congresswoman met with Mr. Johnson to discuss their differences. She didn’t address reporters after.

Asked why he was “negotiating” with Ms. Greene during his press conference, the speaker stressed: “It’s not a negotiation, OK? This is how I’ve operated as speaker.”

He noted that he has “lengthy” discussions with other members of the GOP conference on a daily basis.

“When you can only lose one vote on a party preference or priority, it takes a lot of time to build consensus,” he said.

Ms. Greene’s other demands for Mr. Johnson include only bringing bills to the floor that a majority of Republicans support, no more funding for Ukraine, and passing 12 separate appropriations bills rather than massive minibus or omnibus bills.

“We aren’t going to have an omnibus that Chuck Schumer wrote rammed down our throat. We are not going to do that again,” Ms. Greene told Mr. Bannon.

Adding that such a move would “not be tolerated” going forward.

“If we don’t get our 12 separate appropriation bills, we’ll have to do a 1 percent cut to spending, or we won’t do anything at all.”

Even if Ms. Greene does decide to oust Mr. Johnson, the move is poised to fail as House Democrat leaders have pledged to table the motion.

From The Epoch Times

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