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Trump backs Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans in Sunday sweep of endorsements

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Former president Donald Trump endorsed a handful of candidates for the 2022 midterms on Sunday including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.

The endorsement comes just two days ahead of a nonpartisan party primary for California’s 20th congressional district where the top two candidates will face off in a head-to-head battle in November.

In previous years, Mr McCarthy has typically faced a Democratic challenger, though his district was redrawn after the 2020 census. It is still considered to be a safe Republican seat, according to analysts including the Cook Political Report.

Other candidates endorsed by Mr Trump on Sunday included California’s Representative Darrell Issa, Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Kim Reynolds in Iowa.

Just one person named by the former president in the slate of endorsements was not an incumbent – JR Majewski, who won the GOP primary last month in Ohio’s 5th congressional district, and hopes to oust incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur in November.

Mr Trump’s continued support of Mr McCarthy is significant given audio recordings of the California Republican speaking to GOP colleagues in the immediate aftermath of January 6th attacks, published by The New York Times in April. In them, Mr McCarthy is heard saying that he will urge the president to resign and may even support attempts to remove him from office.

“I’ve had it with this guy,” Mr McCarthy was heard saying in the leaked audio. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it.”

In the recorded conversations, he added that he would tell Mr Trump that he believed efforts to impeach him would succeed, and that the president should resign instead.

“I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” Mr McCarthy says in the recording, acting out his interaction with Trump.

Mr Trump’s endorsement of Mr McCarthy on Sunday did not take a position on whether the GOP House Minority Leader should be elected Speaker if Republicans are successful in their effort to win back the House later this year. Mr McCarthy is considered a top contender for the position but a number of other conservatives in his caucus are potential competitors including Ohio’s Jim Jordan and New York’s Elise Stefanik.

The statement did refer to him, however, as a “strong and fearless Leader of the House Republican Conference”.

“As Leader, Kevin is building a ‘Commitment to America’ platform to Grow our Economy, Fight Big Tech Censorship, Secure the Border, Strengthen our Military, Defend the Second Amendment, Improve our Health Care, Restore American Energy Independence, Support our Brave Veterans, and Uphold the Rule of Law and American Values,” Mr Trump wrote, adding that Mr McCarthy had his “Complete and Total Endorsement”.

The former president remains on top of the likely 2024 GOP primary field and has publicly hinted about plans to run for the White House again. He is thought to be working to maintain and reestablish his relationships with (and dominance over) Republican members of Congress as he cultivates his power base in the party.