WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is considering a visit to the U.S. Capitol early next week, sources said, as an ally of the former president said Trump will back Rep. Jim Jordan’s candidacy to be the next speaker.
Trump, who hasn’t set foot on Capitol grounds since before the Jan. 6 riot, is considering making an appearance to “unify the party,” said a Republican lawmaker who discussed the possibility with a member of Trump’s inner circle Thursday morning.
Rep. Nehls, who is supporting Jordan, posted online Thursday night that he spoke with Trump and the former president will back Jordan.
Trump’s campaign and Jordan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Just had a great conversation with President Trump about the Speaker’s race. He is endorsing Jim Jordan, and I believe Congress should listen to the leader of our party,” Nehls wrote on the social media site X.
“I fully support Jim Jordan for Speaker of the House.”
The news site The Messenger first reported the possibility of Trump’s visit to the Capitol.
While a small handful of Republican lawmakers have suggested Trump himself should be the next speaker, he said Wednesday his focus is on reclaiming the White House, and the two Republican lawmakers said they don’t believe he’s seriously interested in the position.
Trump wrote Thursday on Truth Social that he “will do whatever is necessary to help with the Speaker of the House selection process, short term, until the final selection of a GREAT REPUBLICAN SPEAKER is made.”
But Trump also reposted a post from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., that he should be the next speaker.
Steve Bannon, a top adviser to Trump in the White House who runs the “War Room” podcast, which is popular with Trump supporters, said he believes Trump will speak to the Republican Conference at the Capitol on Tuesday. He said Republicans should choose Trump as an interim speaker for 100 days.
“He’s the only one now that can unite the party when it needs to be united for the next 100 days,” Bannon said in a telephone interview. “He can come and be that bridge to the conference actually coming out and electing a speaker that then can complete the 118th Congress.”
It’s not clear that there is a way for that to happen without Trump’s winning a tough-to-achieve majority in the full House.
Democrats, who voted to impeach Trump over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the deadly attack on Jan. 6, 2021, had strong reactions to news of Trump’s possible visit.
“Criminals tend to return to the scene of the crime,” Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., wrote on X.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who was among those trapped in the House chamber during the Capitol attack, said, “We will need extra security — not for him, but for members and staff and the personnel at the Capitol.
“His presence, as we have learned only too well, is a threat to norms, order, and he has become increasingly violent in his rhetoric recently, which is why we need security for everyone else,” she said.
So far, two big-name GOP lawmakers are vying to succeed McCarthy, who made history Tuesday as the first speaker ever to be ousted by a formal vote of the House.
The Constitution doesn’t require that the speaker be a member of the House, but no nonmember has ever been elected. In protest, House members have voted for people who aren’t lawmakers before, but no serious effort has ever been undertaken by someone who isn’t a representative.
What Trump would hope to accomplish by visiting the Capitol amid an intraparty fight is an open question. While some sources cautioned that he could still opt not to go, they agree it’s a real possibility.
The No. 2 House Republican, Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, officially launched his campaign for speaker Wednesday, as did Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a key Trump ally on Capitol Hill.
Jordan endorsed Trump for president in March. Scalise hasn’t endorsed anyone in the GOP presidential primary campaign.
Jordan said in an interview Thursday that has spoken to Trump about his speaker’s bid but declined to get into details.
“I had a great conversation with the president,” he said.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com