In first news conference, new House Speaker promises to do nothing at all unless the IRS stops harassing his rich friends.
On Thursday, newly-minted House Speaker Mike Johnson (R. LA) held his first formal news conference since assuming the speakership last week. Appearing at Georgetown Dunkin’ Donuts, Johnson met with nearly a score of reporters, all but one of whom worked for Fox News, Breitbart News, or the Drudge Report.
The one exception, Ali Vitali of MSNBC, had her mike turned off when she posed her question, and so she received no response from the speaker.
In his opening statement, the speaker dusted off a page from FDR, and cited “7 freedoms inherent in American life,” which include freedom from debt; freedom to practice any (Christian) religion; freedom to own, bear, and “righteously use” arms in defense of the border, or against BLM, undocumented immigrants, and homosexual groomers. “And I’m not talking about dog groomers,” he added with a twinkle and his now familiar boyish grin.
Johnson went on to compare America to a family, noting that there were things that “every family had to do” to survive. He cited “Your weird uncle Eddie,” now too old to take care of himself. He drew parallels between a hypoethetical “Eddie” and Joe Biden, whom Johnson said was “on his last legs, both physically and mentally.”
He said he looked forward to a good working relationship with the “presidential imposter.” Johnson added that every family must hew to a budget, meaning that not every whim could be catered to. The examples he cited here were Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
The speaker then segued to questions from the assembled reporters, pausing for just an instant to request more coffee and another donut, which he chewed loudly, with his mouth open.
When asked his opinion of increased aid to Israel, he said he was a strong proponent of new aid to the beleaguered nation, which is now at war with the terrorist group Hamas. Johnson said that the “Democrat Party” should not turn aid to Israel into a political football by tying it to supplemental aid to Ukraine, which he characterized as a “territorial dispute with our good friend and ally Vladimir Putin.”
Johnson said he would consider more aid to Ukraine, however, but only if it is offset by the deletion of appropriations to the Internal Revenue Service, whom he said was “conducting a witch-hunt” among “the more civilized classes” of billionaires. “America,” he said, “was built on the back of the wealthy.”
Johnson was asked if there was “reliable evidence” pointing to reasons to impeach the current president. The speaker replied that he had personally served on the defense team of the president, both times he was impeached, and that in the current political environment he didn’t think a third impeachment of Trump was in the offing.
Concerning a budget bill, Johnson said he favored a tiered or “laddered continuing resolution,” whereby funds for essential services and purchases could be approved, leaving the rest “for later.” Asked what should be immediately approved, he mentioned the military, congressional salaries, and aid to Israel. When pressed on what might be left for later, he cited “non-essential budgetary items,” such as most entitlements, infrastructure — “because it was a Democrat idea” — and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other so-called health agencies. “Anthony Fauci should be put in jail,” he muttered with some heat, “along with Joe and Hunter Biden.”
As the news conference wound down, Johnson was asked by Steve Bannon, representing Breitbart News: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?” reprising Barbara Walter’s famous query of actress Katherine Hepburn decades ago. Johnson stared thoughtfully into space for a moment, thanked Bannon for the “important but difficult question,” then replied, “Naturally, a White Birch or a White Popular, and I think the reasons are obvious.”