ICYMI — Fresh Air: Latest Trump indictment could lead to even more disruption in the House

MAGA and McCarthy’s Blind Loyalty to Trump and Attempts to Cover Their Own Anti-Democratic Actions Could End In Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, NPR’s Fresh Air dug into the far ranging implications, and deep seated origin, of House Republicans’ defense of Donald Trump amid his criminal indictment.

Fresh Air’s guest, Annie Karni, Congressional correspondent for The New York Times, detailed how MAGA Republicans are rushing to defend Trump’s actions because they themselves played a key role in the conspiracy. Karni also laid out the real risk that MAGA House Republicans will shut down the entire federal government as direct retaliation for Trump’s indictment and arraignment.

For his part, as Karni explained, Speaker McCarthy has no control over the chaos, owing his tenuous leadership role to both Trump and the far-right MAGA caucus willing to manufacture an economic crisis just to show their loyalty to the former president.

Read key experts from the episode below and listen to the full episode here:

On far-right and baseless claims of 2020 election fraud:

Annie Karni: “And a lot of the base – you know, this big lie that, you know, the election was stolen is a big part of what a lot of the hardcore base believes now. It’s definitional. So they are defending themselves. They’re defending their appeal with their constituents.

On McCarthy and Trump:

Annie Karni: “With Kevin McCarthy, he owes his speakership to Donald Trump. He would not have been able to pass that debt ceiling deal without Trump agreeing to stay silent and not criticize the deal. His whole speakership depends on not alienating Donald Trump.”

On McCarthy and the far-right:
Annie Karni: “So they feel like they own [McCarthy]. He made these agreements with them, and that’s the only reason he’s speaker. And that June moment when they shut down the floor was a reminder – hey, you can’t function without us. […]  He caves to them at every turn.”

On McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Greene:
Annie Karni: “She was loyal to him during the moments when it really looked like [McCarthy] was going to fail yet again at rising to become a speaker. And he has repaid her with treating her like a top policy adviser, standing up for her, fundraising for her, like, treating her like a serious member of Congress, which is what she’s become now in McCarthy – in the McCarthy-led House.”

On a potential MAGA-induced government shutdown: 
Annie Karni: “I mean, these charging documents have great big-picture implications for democracy and the future of our country, but granularly for Congress, we saw some statements put out last night that, you know, raise real questions about funding the government. In September, for instance, Marjorie Taylor Greene said that the indictment was a line in the sand and that she will not vote to fund a weaponized government while it politically persecutes not only President Trump but all conservative Americans. […] So if we see more Republicans adopt that – I mean, that’s pretty extreme – but adopt a line that if this is what the government’s going to be doing, they can’t vote for funding the government, that could be the nail in the coffin for appropriations bills this fall if this is the way Republicans choose to retaliate and seek revenge for Trump.”

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