‘I killed him': How Trump torpedoed Tom Emmer’s speaker bid

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Just hours after Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) won the Republican Conference’s nomination to be House speaker on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to deride the congressman as “totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters” and a “Globalist RINO.”

He then got on the phone with members to express his aversion for Emmer and his bid for speaker.

By Tuesday afternoon Trump called one person close to him with the message, “He's done. It’s over. I killed him.”

Just minutes later, Emmer officially dropped out of the race.

His withdrawal made Emmer the third nominee for speaker to have his hopes dashed for the most cursed job in politics. And it showed that while Trump may not be able to elevate someone to the post — his earlier choice for the job, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also flopped — he can very well ensure that a person doesn’t get it.

Clues that Emmer, the No. 3 House Republican, might become the latest victim of the broken GOP conference were evident early on.

Trump had signaled to aides last week that he did not support Emmer’s bid for the speakership. The former president complained that Emmer had criticized him following the Trump-inspired Jan. 6 Capitol riot and, among other things, had not forcefully enough defended him against his multiple indictments.

But as of Friday night, it looked like Trump would stay out of the race himself, while leaving it to his allies — such as Steve Bannon, Boris Epshteyn and Roger Stone — to express their strong opposition.

But a sequence of missteps by Emmer changed Trump's mind.

On Monday, during an appearance at the New Hampshire State House, Trump was asked if he would endorse Emmer for speaker even though, the reporter said, he wasn’t always Trump’s “biggest fan.”

"He's my biggest fan because he called me yesterday and told me, ‘I'm your biggest fan,’” Trump replied. “We're looking at a lot of people, and I'm trying to stay out of that as much as possible. But they'll get it straightened out. No, I've always gotten along with him, and I get along with all of them. A lot of good people."

Emmer then quickly posted a video of Trump’s comments on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, saying, “Thank you, Mr. President. If my colleagues elect me Speaker of the House, I look forward to continuing our strong working relationship.”

But Trump, several allies said, thought Emmer had intentionally taken his remark out of context. The post, Trump believed, made it appear as if the two were closer — and friendlier — than they actually were.

“The Twitter post from Emmer yesterday didn’t help,” one Trump adviser said. “It was seen as twisting his words. … [Trump] was trying to convey that he wasn’t going to get involved.”

Emmer representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Later that day, a CNN reporter caught up with the congressman and asked him on camera whether he supported Trump in the Republican primary for president.

Emmer dodged, saying only that he was “gonna concentrate” on the speaker’s race.

That was not the answer Trump was looking for. The former president was aghast — especially after the congressman spent the day making it look like the two were allies. Emmer, who thought he had neutralized Trump’s opposition, would soon find out how wrong he was.

Trump previewed his annoyance late Monday, when he shared a post on Truth Social from far-right activist Laura Loomer bashing Emmer as a "NEVER TRUMPER" and "COMMUNIST ENABLER" for his involvement in The National Popular Vote campaign, which supports electing a U.S. president by popular vote, over a decade ago.

"President Trump doesn't support Tom Emmer and neither should you!" Loomer wrote.

The next day, Trump blasted Emmer on Truth Social. And Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill began calling around to House GOP members to encourage them to oppose the Minnesota congressman, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Trump has not shied away from inserting himself in the speaker’s race. He previously endorsed Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee chair, for the post.

But Jordan dropped out last week after he failed to secure 217 votes, making it all the more unclear whether the party can actually settle on a nominee for speaker that satisfies nearly everyone. Trump himself seemed to recognize those hurdles Monday, while appearing in New Hampshire.

"I said there's only one person that can do it all the way, you know who that is? That's Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ came down and said ‘I want to be speaker,’ he would do it,” Trump said. “Other than that I haven't seen anyone that can guarantee it. But at some point I think we’re going to have somebody pretty soon.”