“They’re not skating to where the puck is. And so I would give them a grade of a ‘D,'” Meadows said of the House Republican leadership during an appearance on Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast. “I believe that on this tactic and strategy — listen, you need to make Democrats take tough votes. You need to make sure that when you’ve got them on the ropes that you don’t throw in the white towel.”
Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina who was serving in the House before Trump picked him to be his top aide in 2020, said in a separate appearance on a podcast hosted by Trump ally Steve Bannon that he “would love to see the gavel go from (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump.”
“You talk about melting down, people would go crazy,” he said.
The speaker of the House does not need to be a member of the House, just elected by the body.
The comments from Meadows underscore the growing tension in the Republican Party, with the Trump loyalist publicly criticizing McCarthy, a California Republican who is also one of Trump’s top allies in Congress, less than a year before the midterm elections.
McCarthy is facing heat from both his party and Democrats over recent episodes in Washington, including criticism by some Republicans who want their leader to punish more than a dozen House Republicans who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will repair roads and bridges and widen access to broadband.
Democrats have blasted McCarthy over his decision not to condemn Rep. Paul Gosar after the Arizona Republican posted a photoshopped anime video on Twitter depicting him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging a sword at Biden.
Former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who also served for a time in the House and ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” later Thursday that Meadows’ comments were “just so crazy.”
“It looks like he’s still running so much of the Republican party,” Kasich said of Trump. “As to whether that remains in terms of the pinnacle of his power — yet to be seen. I hope we wake up.”
Meadows faces pressure from Congress to comply with a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol Hill riot. The panel is currently weighing whether to pursue a criminal contempt referral against him, something it has already done for former Trump adviser Bannon. Bannon was indicted by the Department of Justice last week and is pleading not guilty to the charges against him.