Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) told local politics show Nevada Newsmakers Monday that the rumor on Capitol Hill is that Paul Ryan (R-WI) will resign as Speaker of the House in the next 30-60 days, to be replaced by now-Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).
Both Ryan and Scalise quickly denied the rumor. “The speaker is not resigning,” Ashlee Strong, spokeswoman for the Speaker, told The Hill just as Amodei’s remarks began to spread like wildfire online.
Meanwhile, a Scalise staffer told WDSU-New Orleans the Majority Whip was “proud to serve alongside Speaker Ryan, and fully supports him to remain speaker.”
Later, Scalise add in a statement:
Our whole leadership team is focused on working with President Trump to deliver more conservative wins for the country, and also ensuring that we keep the majority so we can continue implementing President Trump’s agenda that is getting our economy back on track.
Amondei’s staff also appeared to walk back his remarks on Nevada Newsmakers. His Communications Director, Logan Ramsey, emphasized to CNN that her boss was only repeating a “rumor he had heard.”
“His response to the question was made explicitly in the context of a rumor, nothing else,” Ramsey said.
“The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new Speaker,” the Reno Gazette-Journal quotes Amodei’s original remarks.
“If it, in fact, it is true, I know that Paul Ryan thinks he wants to play on the national stage in some capacity or another, so I don’t know what that means,” Amodei said, adding, “And my speculation is this: The White House and Paul Ryan would probably not be a great fit.”
Ryan has come under heavy criticism from the “Trumpist” wing of the Republican Party he leads in the House, a fact Amodei acknowledged as he discussed the rumor.
“Paul was a ‘Never Trumper’ for awhile and then they kind of made up,” Amodei said on Nevada Newsmakers. “Heck, when you talk about the Omnibus [spending] bill, Ryan was down at the White House earlier in the week and I assumed (they were) discussing why there wasn’t more [border] Wall money in there, or something like that.”
Ryan has had to deny rumors of his resignation before, including back in December when CNN claimed sources close to him had indicated he would not run again.
Scalise, on the other hand, had not featured prominently in speculation about successors for the speakership before Amodei’s candid remarks. The solidly conservative five-term congressman rocketed to national prominence after he was repeatedly shot by a leftist gunman while practicing for the congressional charity baseball game with other Republicans last June.
The gunman, James Hodgkinson, “liked” supremely well-funded left-wing group the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on social media. The SPLC had made several “intelligence report” posts about Scalise implying he was a racist extremist and an associate of David Duke before Hodgkinson “liked” their site.
The revelation was eerily familiar to the discovery that Family Research Council-shooter Floyd Lee Corkins II used the SPLC’s “hate lists” before embarking on his would-be rampage. These lists typically include conservative politicians, pro-American immigration think-tanks, and traditional Christian non-profits alongside hundreds of tiny, questionably existent Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, describing all as “extremists” and “hate groups.”
Scalise has served as majority whip, arguably the number three position in the House Republican leadership, since 2014.