House Republicans Hesitate Over Johnson's Weird 'Trump Immunity' Bill

Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson

In the wake of former President Donald Trump's guilty verdict on 34 felony counts in New York, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) is now trying to make it virtually impossible for any local or state prosecutor to bring charges against him ever again. But trying to get enough support from within his conference for the concept is another challenge altogether.

Axios reported Friday that Johnson is trying to enlist members of the House Republican Conference to support the No More Political Prosecutions Act. That bill would make it so a current or former president could have any case brought by a local or state-level prosecutor moved to federal court. This would then put those local and state cases under a president's jurisdiction to either have his appointed attorney general dismiss or allow a president to pardon himself if convicted.

However, one major roadblock Johnson has run into is the more moderate faction of his caucus, as Republicans from swing districts have expressed reticence to fully support that legislation.

"I'm debating it," an unnamed centrist House Republican anonymously told Axios.

The bill to undermine local prosecutions against Trump is coupled with other efforts by the House's GOP majority to punish the DOJ over its own prosecution of the former president. Other legislation aimed at federal law enforcement includes budget cuts, and additional levels of congressional oversight. None of those measures are expected to pass the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, however.

Johnson could have trouble in particular from recently elected GOP members of the House, particularly from House districts President Joe Biden won comfortably in 2020. Reps. Anthony D'Esposito (R-NY), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Nick LaLota (R-NY) and Marc Molinaro (R-NY) were all elected less than four years ago, and showing staunch support for Trump after he was convicted by a New York jury could be a tough sell.

The speaker's majority has become increasingly tenuous since he took the gavel, and saw a wave of early retirements and resignations among his fellow Republicans over the past seven months. Johnson can't afford more than two defections from his conference in order to pass legislation, assuming full attendance from both Democrats and Republicans. This has gotten Johnson in trouble in the recent past, as a failure to whip enough votes resulted in him failing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on his first attempt (the second attempt was successful).

Among this year's most notable House Republican exits include former Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), Mike Gallagher (R-WI and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) — who chaired the powerful and influential House Energy and Commerce Committee — among others. Buck's old district is now experiencing a crowded primary that includes Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who changed districts in hopes of having less competitive reelection battles in the extremely rural congressional district.

And of course, former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) was expelled from Congress in the wake of an Ethics Committee investigation highlighting his corrupt behavior both during his campaign and while he was in office. Santos was replaced by Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) in a February special election.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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