Johnson Rejects Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Demand To Shut Down Jack Smith’s Trump Prosecution, but Calls for ‘Accountability’

The speaker’s candor in an interview came just hours after he defeated a motion to remove him from his job by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who wants Smith’s office defunded.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Speaker Johnson on April 20, 2024, after the House voted to approve $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other allies. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

In a sign of confidence after defeating a motion to remove Speaker Johnson from his position, the House speaker says he will not push to shut down the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith during this year’s budget negotiations, a demand made by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman Thomas Massie, who had moved to unseat him. The speaker, though, says he does want “accountability” regarding Mr. Smith. 

In an interview with Politico on Wednesday, the speaker said he could not simply shut down the special counsel’s prosecution on a whim, even if he wanted to. “That’s not something you wave a wand and just eliminate the special counsel as a provision,” Mr. Johnson said. “There is a necessity for a function like that, because sometimes the Department of Justice — which is an executive branch agency — can’t necessarily, without a conflict of interest, investigate or prosecute the president who’s their boss, or the president’s family.”

When asked if he would push to defund Mr. Smith’s office through the government funding bills this year, the speaker responded: “No.” Instead, he wants there to be “accountability” through the oversight powers of Congress. 

“We were in the very beginning stages of even beginning to investigate what that would look like,” Mr. Johnson said. “I do think there has to be accountability. I do think, you know, Congress has the power of the purse, of course. And we have oversight responsibility. And we’ve been vigorously using both of those powers that we have.”

Shortly before his conversation with Politico, Mr. Johnson defeated a motion to vacate the chair — a resolution that would have removed him from his position as speaker had it been successful. 

That motion was brought by Ms. Greene and joined by Mr. Massie, who said the speaker has “betrayed” the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and the American people through recent actions. 

Ms. Greene said before the vote that Mr. Johnson’s government funding deal with Senator Schumer in March, his support for warrantless surveillance reauthorization, and his foreign aid bill that unlocked military funding for Ukraine, among other priorities, were all causes for removal from the speakership. 

“The American people have been patient,” Ms. Greene said Tuesday. “They voted and gave Republicans the majority in 2022 for a reason — because they are fed up with the destructive Democrat agenda.”

“Republican voters are ready to vote for Trump,” Ms. Greene continued. “They’re coming out, and they’re coming out big, but they’re going to skip over those RINO names under the House of Representatives on their ballot because they’re fed up with them. What I’m demanding is simple: We need to act like Republicans.”

Mr. Johnson eventually brought Ms. Greene and Mr. Massie into his office suite for a number of meetings to discuss how he could placate them. 

Ms. Greene announced before one of those meetings that she had four “demands” for Mr. Johnson: enforce the “Hastert Rule” that states a majority of Republicans must support a bill before it is brought to the floor; stop all funding for Ukraine in their war effort; defund Mr. Smith’s prosecution of Mr. Trump; and enact a 1 percent cut of all federal spending through an extension of the current budget. 

Ultimately, Mr. Johnson committed to none of those demands, which led Ms. Greene to force a vote on her motion to vacate on Wednesday night. 

In the end, 359 House members voted to table — or kill — Ms. Greene’s motion to vacate. Just 11 House Republicans and 32 House Democrats voted to allow debate to begin on the motion. 

The New York Sun

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