In a private call with former President Donald Trump, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he personally backed the idea of expunging Trump’s two impeachments and would bring it up to the conference to gauge support, a source said. He did not promise to bring it to the floor, the source added.
McCarthy, a California Republican, has been working overtime to try and placate Trump after an interview last month, in which McCarthy said he thinks the former president can win in 2024, but did not know if he was the “strongest” candidate, prompting outrage from Trump advisers and allies. The speaker’s perceived transgression once again raised questions from Trump and his inner circle as to why he had not yet endorsed the former president in his 2024 presidential bid.
McCarthy called Trump to apologize after the interview, claiming he misspoke on CNBC, sources told CNN at the time. It is unclear what, if any, other promises were made on this call.
Politico first reported the endorsement of the position made by McCarthy to Trump, but McCarthy disputed the assertion in the Politico reporting that he had promised to hold the vote.
“No,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday when asked if he had promised to hold the expungement vote. When pressed on if he would commit to not holding a vote, he said it should “go through committee like anything else.”
Multiple sources tell CNN that calling a House vote to expunge the two impeachments against the former president would be a fool’s errand, as leadership does not have the votes to pass this. So even if McCarthy indicated to Trump he’d do it, it’s unlikely votes would be there – likely further inflaming tensions. Additionally, it is unclear if expunging an impeachment is possible and it has never been done before.
There is no clear procedural consequence of a resolution that portends to “expunge” Trump’s impeachment, according to guidance from the House Parliamentarian’s office. Efforts that have been discuss include a non-binding House resolution expressing the sense of the House, or “expresses the sentiments of one chamber.” Not only would that measure not expunge the impeachment, the effort also cannot undo the two votes that were taken in 2019 and 2020 that impeached the former president. Those votes would still exist in the Congressional Record.
Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill, including GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have pushed McCarthy to call a House vote to expunge the two impeachments.
GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Friday that he would vote to expunge Trump’s impeachment if McCarthy were to bring it to the floor but added that it wouldn’t be “wise” for the speaker to do so “in terms of precedent that it sets.”
“It’s probably wise for the Republican base. It’s not wise in terms of constitutional history,” Buck said on “The Source,” adding that “the Senate expunged when they voted not to impeach.”
Hours after McCarthy’s CNBC interview last month and after he had called the former President to clean up his remarks, Trump said “they better do it” when asked by a supporter at the opening of his New Hampshire campaign office about the House of Representatives expunging his two impeachments.
“If McCarthy does his job, they’ll expunge both of those crappy impeachments,” a supporter said as Trump signed hats and mingled with voters at his new New Hampshire office.
“I understand they’re working on that,” Trump said. “They better do it.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.