Ryan Zinke, who formerly served as Mr Trump’s Interior secretary, appeared on "CNN Tonight" on Thursday to discuss the ongoing battle in Congress over the House speaker position and about Mr Trump’s future with the party.
CNN host Laura Coates asked Mr Zinke how it reflects on Mr Trump that — after he was nominated for House Speaker by Congressman Matt Gaetz — he only received a single vote.
“You were a SEAL, as you say. Let’s talk about a former commander-in-chief, because Donald Trump – who is running for reelection again, he was nominated today as an alternative to, say Kevin McCarthy – he only got one vote in favor of him. I wonder how you judge that and how you view that given his role within your own party.”
Mr Zinke said the former president still has "influence," but admitted that it appeared to be "waning."
“Absolutely,” Mr Zinke said. “He’s behind McCarthy, and they ignored him. And in some cases, they called him out. Now, I think that’s absolutely inappropriate.”
He shrugged off the lone vote for Mr Trump to become speaker as a non-serious "castaway" vote from Mr Gaetz.
“Let’s get serious because the job is serious,” Mr Zinke said. “Being a congressman is a responsibility. It’s an honor, but it’s a responsibility, and you should take that responsibility.”
Mr Trump has tried to rally Republicans behind Mr McCarthy using his social media platform Truth Social.
“Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,” Mr Trump wrote. “REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.”
The 20 Republicans who refuse to back Mr McCarthy’s bid for Speaker have largely ignored Mr Trump’s demands that they back the congressman.
Even Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, long a Trump loyalist, refused to vote according to his will. She said Mr Trump should be calling for Mr McCarthy to step down, and not calling on her and her colleagues to vote against their ideals.
"Let’s stop with the campaign smears and tactics to get people to turn against us — even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off," Ms Boebertsaid on the House floorWednesday, according to NBC News. "I think it actually needs to be reversed; the president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that, sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw."