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U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson listens to former President Donald Trump talk with reporters as he arrives at Manhattan criminal court.
House Speaker Mike Johnson was among the Republicans to visit former President Donald Trump’s trial. Justin Lane/AP

Mike Johnson Showed His Love for Trump at the Trial. It Didn’t Convince His Haters.

“Everybody hates” Mike Johnson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said after the speaker attended former President Donald Trump’s trial.

If Speaker Mike Johnson’s appearance at Donald Trump’s criminal trial on Tuesday was intended to cozy up to the former president and make it harder for his GOP dissenters to eject him from the House, Johnson’s detractors weren’t convinced.

When NOTUS asked Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday night if she would be laying off Johnson after he showed up to Trump’s trial, the answer was an emphatic no.

“Why was the speaker of the House at a state trial?” Greene asked.

After Greene insisted on an answer, and NOTUS offered that Johnson seemed to be trying to align himself with Trump, the Georgia Republican agreed that was his intention.

“You know what he should be doing is he should be going after Jack Smith, instead of going, ‘Oh, this is terrible, weaponized government, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh,’” Greene said in a mocking tone. “Really, seriously though, he’s the speaker of the House, [second] in line to be president of the United States. If he’s gonna do something about the weaponized government, he shouldn’t have funded it. And he should defund Jack Smith.”

Greene, who brought the failed motion to remove Johnson to the floor last week, said Johnson’s New York appearance didn’t convince any of the 11 Republicans who effectively voted to remove him from the speakership.

“Everybody hates him,” Greene said, noting that Trump hadn’t told any of Johnson’s detractors to lay off.

Johnson’s office declined to comment on this story.

Other Republicans who voted to remove Johnson from the speakership last week may have been less bombastic, but no one was suddenly jumping to his defense.

Arizona Republican Rep. Eli Crane told NOTUS he was glad Johnson showed up — “I would love to see every member show up and support the president,” Crane said — but he again stopped short of saying it had changed his mind.

“My issue with the speaker had nothing to do with the whole Trump thing,” Crane said.

Another Johnson detractor, Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy, was at first incredulous about Johnson attending the trial. “Did he make it in the end? I don’t know. I mean, I saw the reporting, I saw everybody else at the mic, but I didn’t see Mike,” Roy said.

Eventually, Roy conceded Johnson’s visit was for a worthy cause. “A lot of my colleagues, you know, me included, are horrified at this ridiculous sham of a trial,” Roy said.

Still, Roy said having a GOP speaker relying on Democratic votes to keep his position was a “complete nonstarter.”

Johnson attended the trial Tuesday and laid into former Trump lawyer, and now witness for the prosecution, Michael Cohen. He claimed Cohen was a man “clearly on a mission for personal revenge,” and he noted Cohen has a history of perjury.

“No one should believe a word he says in there,” Johnson said of Cohen.

Cozying up to Trump could obviously help Johnson navigate his political troubles back in Washington. But even if it’s not convincing the Republicans inside Congress, there are still potential benefits for him.

Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona said his take was that Johnson wasn’t trying to convince his conservative detractors; he was trying to show voters that he’s aligned with Trump.

“My head was that it was more about maybe his own base, you know, at home in the district,” Schweikert said.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good of Virginia, who’s faced his own criticism for being insufficiently pro-Trump, told NOTUS that every Republican should support Trump.

“So I’m glad that Speaker Johnson has went there,” he said, referring to the trial, while also noting in the same sentence that he doesn’t “connect” Johnson’s appearance “in any way to the speakership.”

Democrats, meanwhile, who overwhelmingly voted to kill Greene’s motion to vacate, were quick to call Johnson’s appearance inappropriate.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland noted on Tuesday that Johnson was attending the “criminal trial of a guy who’s already an adjudicated sexual assailant and fraudster in the state of New York for having cooked the books to conceal cash payments he made hush money to a porn star.”

“If that’s what Speaker Johnson wants to spend his time doing, it only reinforces my conclusion that they have no real legislative agenda for America,” he said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York was harsher, telling NOTUS she couldn’t “understate not just the norms, but the basic pillars of democracy and rule of law that they are absolutely obliterating in this present moment.”

“And it is just a small tiny crumb of a preview of the laws and the norms and the democratic standards that they seek to annihilate if Donald Trump is elected president,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

But perhaps harshest of all was California Rep. Jared Huffman, who called it “pathetic groveling.”

“You just have to wonder if they have any dignity left,” Huffman said. “But I know the answer to that.”

“The speaker of the House, on bended knee, for the criminal defendant, hush money porn star sleazebag,” Huffman added. “That’s what we’ve gotten to.”


Matt Fuller is Capitol Hill bureau chief at NOTUS.