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Some GOP McCarthy holdouts scoff at claims Trump swayed speaker vote outcome


(WASHINGTON) — Moments after clinching the House speakership, Kevin McCarthy headed to the cameras to “especially thank” one person he said helped him get the gig: Donald Trump.

“I do want to especially thank President Trump,” McCarthy told reporters. “I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning … he was all in.”

The former president, coming off of weeks of negative headlines from having dinner with a white supremacist to having his tax returns released, was also quick to take credit for McCarthy’s eventual victory after publicly and privately pressuring members to back him.

“The Fake News Media was, believe it or not, very gracious in their reporting that I greatly helped Kevin McCarthy attain the position of Speaker of the House. Thank you, I did our Country a big favor!” Trump wrote on his social media platform.

However, some of the Republican holdouts who blocked McCarthy’s effort for days told ABC News that their decision to back down had nothing to do with Trump.

“President Trump had no influence on the votes, myself or any of my colleagues,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., one of the initial five so-called “Never Kevins” who pushed for major changes to how the House functioned, told ABC News when asked what influenced his decision.

“Saturday morning, it became clear that it was inevitable that Mr. McCarthy was going to become speaker, and I saw no reason to prolong that through the weekend,” Good added.

McCarthy ultimately won the speakership after historically falling short on over a dozen ballots in a row thanks to stiff opposition from 20 Republican rebels who collectively stymied his efforts for days until finally relenting early on Saturday.

GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, who was captured in a now-viral photo waving off Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who was holding up a cell phone with Trump on the line, also told ABC News that the former president had nothing to do with his speaker vote.

“Not with my decision,” Rosendale said when asked if Trump played any role. “My decision was based on the voters of Montana and to support the constitution … I was meeting and listening to my constituents and my effort was always focused on making sure we had a much more open process.”

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, another one of the initial five so-called “Never Kevins,” also told ABC News that Trump “didn’t have anything” to do with his ultimate decision to back McCarty. “In fact, I disagreed with him getting involved,” Norman said.

“This is a House function. We elect the speaker,” Norman added.

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who initially voted for McCarthy before switching his vote to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and getting nominated for speaker himself, also told ABC News that Trump’s pressure campaign had little impact on him.

“It wasn’t that — it wasn’t that,” Donalds, who said he spoke with Trump throughout the process, said when asked if the former president’s efforts swayed him.

Some members weren’t as definitive regarding Trump’s impact. Biggs, who ran a long-shot speakership campaign against McCarthy, told ABC News he did not want to comment on whether or not the former president played a role in the days-long fight. “I’m just ready to go forward together,” Biggs said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia was the only member ABC News spoke with who said he did believe the former president “certainly had influence in the process.”

Clyde, who said he spoke with Trump’s staff during the speaker fight, said the outcome from the at times contentious week will be a “win-win for our country and for our leadership.”

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