Several Republican House members fighting to stop Rep. Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker met Friday morning at the offices of the Conservative Partnership Institute, an organization run by Mark Meadows and Jim DeMint.
Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, was chief of staff to former President Donald Trump and played a central role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He joined CPI as senior partner in January 2021, a few weeks after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina, launched CPI in 2017. Since Trump left office in 2021, it has become a connective hub for a host of former Trump advisers, including Meadows, budget chief Russ Vought and adviser Stephen Miller.
A little before 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Yahoo News observed several House Republicans who are leading the effort to block McCarthy, a California Republican, walking into the CPI offices a few blocks from the Capitol.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a leader of the anti-McCarthy drive who was also deeply involved in the Trump 2020 effort, did not answer questions from Yahoo News on why he was going to the CPI offices as he walked in the front door.
Other Republican members observed walking into CPI included Byron Donalds of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Matt Gaetz of Florida. Chip Roy of Texas was seen in the passenger seat of a car sitting outside the CPI offices and appeared ready to go in.
A CPI spokesman did not comment when asked why the anti-McCarthy members were meeting at the organization’s offices.
Meadows did not respond to a text message seeking comment about the meeting and how personally involved he is in the anti-McCarthy effort. But multiple Republican sources on Capitol Hill had mentioned that Meadows is involved in the attempt to stop McCarthy from becoming speaker — even as his former boss, Trump, has endorsed McCarthy and given him his support.
Most of the Republican congressmen at CPI on Friday morning have been gathering there for months. CPI’s social media accounts include many pictures and videos showing these Republicans talking about meeting there and using the organization’s facilities to do interviews with right-wing media.
DeMint said in a promotional video that CPI is “providing resources, facilities and staff” to members of Congress whom it supports.
“When you take a stand here, you have to know someone has your back,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., says in a CPI video, striding briskly out of a House office building while dramatic music plays in the background.
Meadows is the first person to appear in that video. He slams “political horse trading, partisan power shifts and backdoor politicking” and says that these things “have resulted in gridlock that is crushing the American people.”
But currently, gridlock on Capitol Hill is in its fourth day, and the members meeting at Meadows’s offices are the cause. They have blocked McCarthy from gaining the speakership through 11 separate votes over three days. The House was scheduled to begin another round of voting on Friday afternoon.
On Wednesday, DeMint was one of several Republican figures to sign a letter calling on other House Republicans to join the anti-McCarthy effort.
Vought, who is a close ally of Meadows, also signed the letter, as did Cleta Mitchell and Ginni Thomas. Mitchell is an attorney who was deeply involved in Trump’s attempts to stay in power, and who now works at CPI as a senior legal fellow. Thomas, who corresponded with Meadows about efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Meadows did not sign the letter.