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Kremlin’s Shadow Falls Over the Capitol

The following is part of The Moscow Primary, [1] an irregular [2] series [3] on yours truly’s [4] speculations regarding the views of the 2024 Republican nomination contest from the most important player: the Kremlin.

Before Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy clearly hoped that his surrender on Ukraine [5] (among other things) would be enough to make him Speaker of the House.

As I write this, it still hasn’t happened. More importantly, the anti-McCarthy Republicans in the House have championed Byron Donalds, who was a consistent supporter of the Kremlin during his one term in office. With Donald Trump supporting McCarthy, the Putinists are in both camps. I cannot guess who will eventually end up Speaker. I can say it will have an effect in the Moscow Primary.

On one level, a McCarthy defeat bodes ill for Trump himself. The Kremlin will wonder how much Trump can really control the Republican Party. Moreover, the McCarthy opponents have specifically complained about weapons funding for Ukraine. In other words, pro-Putin Republicans are arguing amongst themselves about who should be Speaker as supporters of democracy stock up on popcorn. Moscow certainly likes the support it’s getting within the GOP, but even it needs someone to lead the party.

The longer this goes on, the more likely Putin et al will waver in their support for Trump and look around for a potential replacement. The weaker Trump is, the easier it will be for Moscow to force him to stand down in favor of …

… well, that’s the part they’re still trying to figure out.