Gage Skidmore / Flickr paul ryan outstretched arm...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows is hopping mad at the entire GOP leadership and Donald Trump since Tuesday’s DACA debacle, followed by the debt ceiling/Hurricane Harvey relief which Republican Senator Ben Sasse characterized as the “Schumer-Pelosi-Trump deal,” about which it has been said, “Trump was totally suckered.” Meadows can’t eliminate Trump but he sure can do something about getting rid of Paul Ryan, just like he did with John Boehner, and that’s evidently what he intends to do; and he’s consulting with Steve Bannon. In case you’re just tuning in, Steve Bannon loathes Paul Ryan and vowed last Fall that, “Ryan will be gone by Spring.” The Hill did an exclusive last October on that rift:

Steve Bannon, the chairman of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart who became CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gave explicit orders to his staff to destroy Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).  

On editorial conference calls, the Breitbart chairman would often say “Paul Ryan is the enemy,” according to a source who worked with Bannon at the news organization.

In December 2015, weeks after Ryan became Speaker, Bannon wrote in an internal Breitbart email obtained by The Hill that the “long game” for his news site was for Ryan to be “gone” by the spring.

Steve Bannon used to burn the midnight oil with Mark Meadows in secret meetings in his war room at the White House, particularly the week that the ACA repeal so pyrotechnically crashed and burned, an event which both Bannon and Meadows blamed on Paul Ryan. Odds were that Ryan was history then. Now the same dialogue is being heard. Washington Post:

The closed-door conversations are being led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in consultation with his allies on the right, in particular Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist who recently returned to his perch as executive chairman of the Breitbart News website. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Freedom Caucus members are also involved in the talks to varying degrees, according to nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the discussions.

On Wednesday, Meadows, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) took their concerns directly to Ryan, telling him in a private meeting in the Capitol that his failure to enact conservative priorities could diminish his support among conservatives.

Even so, the group of more than 30 conservative House lawmakers is unlikely to stage a successful coup to push out Ryan and has so far shown unease about translating their grievances into action. But the mere fact that they are discussing the prospect — and strategizing with Bannon — underscores both their desire and ability to disrupt an already daunting legislative schedule.

Bear in mind that Mark Meadows is the one who instigated the last rebellion against the sitting Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who was persuaded to step down in 2015.

Ashlee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that, “Every single day the speaker talks to members about their concerns, ideas, and anything else they’d like to discuss. Being accessible to members is part of the job and one he makes a priority.”

A spokesperson for the House Freedom Caucus declined to comment.

But a conservative lawmaker who is close to the Freedom Caucus did provide a statement to The Washington Post.

“I’ve talked to countless Americans who are fed up with Congress’s inability to get anything done. They see Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan as the biggest impediments to enacting President Trump’s agenda,” wrote the lawmaker, who requested anonymity due to sensitivity about directly speaking out against Ryan. “If things don’t change — and fast — the American people will demand new leadership in Congress.”

While Meadows has made it clear that these are informal conversations and that Ryan is aware of the Freedom Caucus’ concerns, there is this:

The group has gone so far as to float the idea of recruiting former House speaker Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum as potential replacements for Ryan (R-Wis.) should there be a rebellion. The Constitution does not require that an elected member of the House serve as speaker.

While the chances that a non-House member could mount a credible threat to Ryan are exceedingly slim, the fact that the group has even toyed with the idea underscores their desire to create trouble for GOP leaders if they believe their demands are not being addressed.

Things are just beginning to heat up. DACA followed by the Schumer-Pelosi-Trump sucker deal lit the fuse.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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