Still of Mike Johnson in front of image of US Capitol building

Molly Butler / Media Matters

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Right-wing media divided over whether GOP should oust House Speaker Mike Johnson amid passage of bipartisan Ukraine aid

Right-wing pundits are drawing lines in the sand over whether to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). The slim GOP majority in Congress has enabled the possibility of a few members of the party forcing a vote on removing the Republican speaker, and many MAGA-aligned personalities have stoked the flames while others say they back Johnson. 

  • GOP pressure to oust Speaker Mike Johnson is growing due to his role in passing foreign aid funding

    • Prominent House Republicans have called for Johnson to be removed from the speakership for his role in pushing for foreign aid spending without ties to spending on the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier this year, Senate Republicans struck down a bipartisan border and foreign aid spending bill amid opposition from House Republicans, including  Johnson, and former President Donald Trump. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) have all called for Johnson to step down or risk a motion to vacate. [NBC, 4/19/24; CNN, 2/8/24]
    • Following the passage of over $60 billion to fund Ukraine’s defense efforts, Greene said, “Mike Johnson’s speakership is over.” She added: “He needs to do the right thing to resign and allow us to move forward in a controlled process. If he doesn’t do so, he will be vacated.” [CNN, 4/21/24]
  • MAGA media personalities attacked Johnson and called for his ouster

    • Right-wing podcaster Steve Bannon called on his audience to lobby their representatives to oust Johnson. Bannon told his audience: “This week we need to pound in your calls and your efforts into your congressman's local office.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 4/22/24]
    • On his program, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said, “I'll be honest, the only redemption now is Mike Johnson has to resign.” Kirk continued, “He's not who he said he was. It's tragic.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 4/18/24]
    • Right-wing X account End Wokeness, questioned Johnson’s speakership over comments about white privilege. The account posted: “Mike Johnson believes that white privilege is real and systemic change is needed. How is this man the GOP Speaker?” [Twitter/X, 4/18/24]
    • Former OAN host Liz Wheeler remarked, “Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans like Speaker Mike Johnson?” [Twitter/X, 4/19/24]
    • COVID-19 misinformer Emerald Robinson called Johnson “compromised” and said the GOP has “merged with the Democrats.” [Twitter/X, 4/19/24; CNN, 10/21/21]
    • Right-wing X account Catturd called Johnson a “lowlife fraud” and a “false prophet.” Catturd wrote: “I’ve never seen a bigger sellout backstabbing snake in my life than @SpeakerJohnson. I can’t believe what a lowlife fraud this loser is. I’m speechless to how bad this phony just sold out Republican voters. When the Bible warned us about false prophets, Mike Johnson is the perfect example.” [Twitter/X, 4/18/24]
    • War Room chief operating officer Grace Chong called for a motion to vacate on Saturday, when the House passed the foreign aid package. She wrote on X, “Speaker Johnson lied and cannot be trusted. He betrayed us. Motion to vacate.” [Twitter/X, 4/20/24]
  • Some in right-wing media specifically cited outrage over the foreign aid package

    • Bannon said House members waving the Ukrainian flag on the House floor “committed sacrilege,” adding, “Johnson's got to go.” He said, “They committed sacrilege on Saturday when they brought the Ukrainian flags. They brought Ukrainian flags, Ukrainian flags on the floor of the House,” Bannon then said the GOP representatives who voted for the foreign aid “ought to be turfed out.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 4/22/24]
    • Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience, called Johnson “weak” and “susceptible to evil,” saying that’s why he passed Ukraine aid. Carlson claimed it’s “absolutely crazy what Mike Johnson” is doing. [Youtube, The Joe Rogan Experience, 4/19/24]
    • Former Trump strategist Roger Stone said that Johnson “exposed himself as a swamp creature” by supporting Ukraine funding. [Twitter/X, 4/19/24]
    • Self-described “J6 conspiracy theorist” Julie Kelly compared Johnson to President Joe Biden on Ukraine. She posted to X: “No daylight between Johnson and Ukrainian grifters like the Bidens and Vindmans. ‘March through Europe?’” [Twitter/X, 4/18/24]
    • Former Fox News producer Kyle Becker claimed Johnson passed foreign aid “while betraying Americans on border security and amid crushing inflation.” He added: “The Uniparty is now on full display in American politics.The illusion that Congress represents U.S. voters is OVER.” [Twitter/X, 4/21/24]
    • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell wrote that it was “BS” that Johnson passed foreign aid funding without funding for America’s southern border. [Twitter/X, 4/20/24]
  • Others in right-wing media criticized the attempts to oust the speaker or sided with Johnson

    • Newsmax host Greg Kelly said, “I will stick with Mike Johnson” rather than risk having Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as speaker. His chyron read: “GOP can't afford to lose Mike Johnson as speaker.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 4/18/24]
    • The Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro called for Johnson to “nuke the idiotic rule” of the motion to vacate. Shapiro wrote: “Enough of the Congressional clown show. Speaker Johnson should immediately nuke the idiotic rule that one person can hold hostage all of Congress by bringing a ‘motion to vacate’ against the Speaker. If that means getting Democratic votes + a majority of Republicans, Johnson should do it anyway. If you don't like that, blame the Republicans who would rather grandstand than do their jobs.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 4/8/24]
    • Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt attacked “The Knuclehead Caucus” for attacking Johnson. Hewitt praised the speaker, writing, “@SpeakerJohnson is great and 95-99% of caucus will vote to keep him Speaker. Hope he presses on.” [Twitter/X, 4/18/24]
    • Fox News contributor Liz Peek published an opinion piece titled “Marjorie Taylor Greene is an idiot. She is trying to wreck the GOP.” [Fox News, 4/17/24]
    • Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis pointed out the GOP’s selective anger at Johnson over Ukraine funding. She posted: “Mike Johnson has a 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 conservative policy agenda than Donald Trump. If you are angry with Mike Johnson over Ukraine funding, why aren’t you also angry at Donald Trump? Principles should not give one a pass because of personality but not the other.” [Twitter/X, 4/21/24]