Fake Donald Trump endorsement for US House speaker spreads online

Copyright AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

As US Republicans struggle to select a House of Representatives speaker, social media users are claiming Donald Trump has withdrawn his support for Kevin McCarthy to endorse Congressman Byron Donalds, a conservative hardliner from Florida, instead. This is false; Trump's supposed remarks do not appear on the former president's Truth Social feed or 2024 campaign website, and Trump said they are "fake and fraudulent."

"I have been monitoring the vote at the House from the beautiful Mar-a-Lago, and I am very disappointed," says the text in what appears to show a January 4, 2023 statement from Trump, complete with his "Save America" masthead. "Kevin and I spoke last night, and he made certain promises that he has not kept. Very, very sad. Many are now saying Kevin is part of the problem! Enough is Enough, Kevin! The Swamp needs to be drained, and it seems we need new Leadership. House members should now rally behind Bryon Donalds, who will be sure to push the MAGA agenda. Get it done!"

The supposed statement -- which misspells Donalds' first name -- spread across social media after McCarthy repeatedly failed during the first week of January to secure the 218 House votes needed for the speakership, the third most powerful role in US politics.

Trump had called for Republicans to elevate McCarthy to the position in an early-morning Truth Social post on January 4, after an ultraconservative faction of the party kept McCarthy from earning the seat through three rounds of voting the day prior -- and three more rounds that day.

"It's official. Trump is now endorsing Freedom Caucus member Byron Donalds for Speaker," says one January 4 tweet, one of more than a dozen posts sharing pictures of the alleged statement on the platform. The apparent endorsement also appeared on Facebook and formed the basis of an article published by a local Florida radio station.

Screenshot from Twitter taken January 5, 2023

But the statement is a digital fabrication, Trump said on Truth Social.

"The Statement just put out using a Save America masthead is a forgery and a fake," the former president wrote. "Please disregard it entirely."

In a second post, he added: "I have always supported Byron Donalds, have consistently Endorsed him for Congress and, in fact, feel that I was a primary reason he entered politics in the first place. He is a young man with a great future! With that all being said, the story and statement that was just put out that I endorsed Byron for Speaker of the House is Fake and Fraudulent. He will have his day, and it will be a big one, but not now!"

AFP reached out to Trump's office and spokesperson for additional comment, but no response was forthcoming.

No such statement appears in live or archived versions of Trump's Truth Social feed, nor was one emailed by his campaign or posted to its website.

Without a speaker, the House is unable to swear in members, start filling committees, tackle legislation or launch new investigations. McCarthy's failure to obtain the requisite votes marked the first time in more than a century that the process took more than one round of voting.

As of 20:45 GMT on January 5, no speaker has been elected. The chamber has completed eight votes on the matter.

AFP has previously debunked other fake Trump statements and posts, including here, here and here.