House Speaker Johnson calls for Columbia University president Shafik resignation ahead of campus visit

NEW YORK — U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday called on Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign over her handling of the Gaza protests ahead of an afternoon campus visit with Jewish students, who say they feel unsafe amid campus unrest.

“President Shafik has shown to be a very weak and inept leader,” Johnson said on The Hugh Hewitt Show, a conservative radio talkshow. “They cannot even guarantee the safety of Jewish students. They’re expected to run for their lives and stay home from class. It’s just, it’s maddening.”

“What we’re seeing on these college campuses across the country is disgusting and unacceptable,” he said.

Johnson is the highest-ranking elected official to demand Shafik’s resignation, after several Republican lawmakers called for an end to her nascent tenure on Monday.

The speaker said New York Reps. Mike Lawler and Nicole Malliotakis will join him on campus, where students have erected a week-long encampment to demand Columbia divest from Israel and reverse pro-Palestinian student and faculty discipline.

“Some of these kids who are protesting,” Johnson continued, “you and I both know the vast majority of them have no idea what they’re talking. They don’t know the facts. Some of them are denying that Oct. 7 even happened.”

Shafik, who testified before the Republican-led House education committee last week, has not indicated any plans to resign.

“President Shafik is focused on de-escalating the rancor on Columbia’s campus,” the university said in a statement. “She is working across campus with members of the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees, and with state, city, and community leaders, and appreciates their support.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) accused Johnson of hypocrisy, after the speaker met last week with the head of the largest Christian Zionist organization, who he accused of being an extreme, far-right Christian nationalist. Nadler earlier this week condemned antisemitism on Columbia’s campus but stopped short of calling on Shafik to resign.

“Today, @SpeakerJohnson will visit @Columbia University under the guise of combatting antisemitism,” Nadler said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “If the Speaker wants to actually combat antisemitism and not just score cheap political points, he must stop ignoring the antisemitism in his own party.”