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Donald Trump Looms Large Over House Speaker Vote

The spectre of former President Donald Trump loomed large over the US Capitol on Tuesday as House Republicans met to choose a new Speaker candidate.

While Mr Trump has not publicly endorsed a candidate, he has had a contentious relationship with the frontrunner, Minnesota’s Tom Emmer.

It has now been 21 days since the House of Representatives has had a Speaker, leaving it unable to function.

Mr Trump’s preferred candidate, Jim Jordan, dropped out last week.

On Tuesday morning, Republican House representatives gathered in an office building near the Capitol to begin a series of secret-ballot votes, which will continue until a nominee emerges with majority support.

A full vote in the House will follow, although it is unclear when that will take place. It remains to be seen whether any of the many candidates has enough support to win on the House floor.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Monday, Mr Trump said that he is “staying above it”, even as candidates seek his support.

“I’ve spoken to just about all the candidates. There are quite a few of them,” he said. “And they’re terrific people”.

Several key Trump allies and former administration officials, however, have harshly criticised Mr Emmer, characterising him as “disloyal”.

Mr Emmer drew the ire of many of Mr Trump’s supporters for voting to certify the rightful results of the 2020 election, in President Joe Biden’s favour. He is one of only two of the Republican Speaker candidates, along with Georgia’s Austin Scott, to do so.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon referred to Mr Emmer as a “Trump hater” on his podcast on Friday and urged the former president’s supporters in the House to “stop” him.

On the same podcast, a former Trump advisor, Boris Epshteyn, questioned whether “someone so out of step with where the Republican electorate is” can “even be in the conversation” about a new Speaker.

Additionally, US media outlets – including the Washington Post – reported that Mr Trump privately directed his allies to criticise Mr Emmer ahead of the vote.

Citing two anonymous sources familiar with the situation, the Post also reported that Mr Trump’s backers circulated a 200-page “opposition research” book about Mr Emmer that critiques many of his policy positions.

The BBC has been unable to independently verify the report.

Mr Trump reportedly also spoke to several other candidates ahead of the Republican vote, including Oklahoma’s Kevin Hern and Louisiana’s Mike Johnson.

If Mr Emmer secures the nomination, it is unclear when a vote would be taken to the House floor.

On Monday, he said only that “the will of the conference” can determine when the vote will take place.

Source : BBC