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In a stunning turn of events, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced Thursday that he would not seek election for the position of Speaker of the House.

“I think I shocked some of ya, huh?” McCarthy told reporters only five hours after he had announced his intention to run. McCarthy intends to remain House Majority Leader.

McCarthy had been the presumed successor to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who is set to resign his seat on Oct. 30.

“We need a new face,” McCarthy said at his press conference. “I feel good about the decision. I think we’re only going to be stronger.”

The Republican conference, he said, needed “to be 100-percent united” behind its eventual nominee.

The startling development has exposed deep fissures within the Republican conference and seriously calls into question the party’s ability to unite behind a nominee.

McCarthy has been dogged by pundits and colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his gaffe last week, when he boasted on national television that the Benghazi select committee had been formed specifically to bring down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. Those remarks, McCarthy conceded in his press conference, “weren’t helpful.”

In his remarks to Republican congressmen, McCarthy said he didn’t want to divide the American people or divide the Congress, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told MSNBC.

“I’m not the one,” McCarthy told the GOP conference, to stunned silence, according to reports.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, which had consistently challenged Boehner during his tenure, described McCarthy’s move as “selfless” and said he was moved by his “statesmanship,” in an interview with CNN.

The Freedom Caucus endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) for Speaker yesterday.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told MSNBC that McCarthy clearly could have won a majority of the Republican conference, but was not able to get the 218 votes needed in the House. That may be due to the Freedom Caucus, who in the past have launched renegade coup attempts to deny Boehner the majority vote on the House floor.

Dent speculated that it may be necessary to form a bipartisan coalition — sidestepping the highly conservative element in his party — in order to elect the next Speaker. “At this point anything is possible,” he said.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KA) described McCarthy’s abdication as a “victory for the American people.”

“I think the establishment lost again today,” he told MSNBC. “They essentially lost two Speakers in two weeks.”

The House GOP’s internal election to select their nominee for Speaker had been scheduled for today. Boehner announced that it has been postponed, but has not yet given a new date.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is seeking the nomination for Speaker, said that the Republican conference is “going to have to do a lot of soul searching” and have a “family discussion” in order to unite the party.

This story has been updated.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at the John Hay Initiative in Washington September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)