Political News

Trump indictment live updates: Trump facing federal charges in classified docs investigation

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on federal charges in an investigation into his handling of classified documents, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The indictment of Trump, who has repeatedly denied any allegations of impropriety, is unprecedented for a former president.

The indictment comes after more than 100 documents with classified markings were found at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Jun 08, 9:19 PM EDT
What 2nd Trump indictment could mean for GOP White House race: Analysis

With former President Donald Trump now facing a second indictment, this time on federal charges, according to sources, it's a turn of events that could shake up the Republican primary field as Trump makes a third run for the White House.

The aftermath of Trump's first indictment in New York connection to an alleged hush money scheme could be an indication of what is to come. Before his first indictment, Trump pledged to continue on with his presidential bid despite charges and even argued that cases could give his campaign a boost. Trump wasn't wrong.

In fact, he still outpaces his GOP rivals in recent polling.

Another boon to his campaign, the fact that Republicans by and large rallied around him after his first indictment -- even most of those challenging him in the Republican presidential primary.

But the field of candidates is more crowded now, comprised of more candidates willing to clearly criticize Trump.

-ABC News' Averi Harper

Jun 08, 9:07 PM EDT
Federal indictment expected to be 'speaking indictment': Sources

The federal indictment against former President Donald Trump is expected to be a "speaking indictment" that will lay out chapter and verse the government's case to the public, according to sources.

-ABC News' Ivan Pereira

Jun 08, 8:56 PM EDT
Trump team anticipated indictment for several days: Sources

Former President Donald Trump's team has been anticipating a federal indictment for the past several days, sources said.

Sources said his team is already planning a trip down to Miami and is thinking of holding a campaign event around this indictment.

-ABC News' John Santucci

Jun 08, 8:49 PM EDT
DOJ, White House decline to comment

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and Special Counsel Jack Smith's office declined to comment Thursday evening on Trump's announcement he was informed of his indictment.

White House Spokesperson Ian Sams also declined to comment on Trump saying his attorneys have been informed he has been indicted in the classified documents investigation.

Sams referred ABC News to the DOJ, which he said "conducts its criminal investigations independently."

-ABC News' Molly Nagle and Alexander Mallin

Jun 08, 8:37 PM EDT
Trump charged in 'rocket docket' court -- and why that could matter

Former President Donald Trump will face charges in the Southern District of Florida, a venue whose reputation for swift proceedings has earned it "rocket docket" status -- a colloquialism that reflects its strict adherence to the speedy trial clock.

Walter Norkin, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida, explains why that might be notable.

"The Southern District of Florida is one of the few districts in the country that operates under a 'rocket docket' and, in distinction from the District of Columbia, you can expect a criminal case to be resolved within six months of an indictment issuing," Norkin told ABC News. "The judges in the Southern District of Florida adhere very strictly to the Speedy Trial clock, which, with limited exceptions, requires trial or conviction to occur within 70 days."

As a strategic matter, according to Norkin, the special counsel may have chosen this particular venue as a means to circumvent that inclination as prosecutors face the prospect of "certain policy considerations that take effect as an election nears."

"To the extent a defense strategy would be to delay trial," Norkin continued, "they will have a heavier burden executing that plan in Southern District of Florida than they would in another district."

-ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman

Jun 08, 8:19 PM EDT
What an indictment means for Trump's presidential bid

Former President Donald Trump can still be elected president again -- even if he is convicted -- experts tell ABC News.

But there are practical reasons that could make it a challenge, the experts told ABC News after Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in March.

Jun 08, 8:12 PM EDT
Who is special counsel Jack Smith?

Attorney General Merrick Garland tapped Jack Smith in November 2022 as special counsel to oversee the DOJ's investigation into former President Donald Trump's handling of classified materials after leaving office.

Former colleagues have characterized Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor and former head of the Justice Department's public integrity section, as an aggressive prosecutor who would not shy away from taking on difficult prosecutorial judgments, with the background and temperament that make him a strong selection for the high-profile role.

Jun 08, 7:57 PM EDT
What to expect at Tuesday's arraignment

When the former president arrives at Miami federal court on Tuesday, it will mark an extraordinary moment for the country: Trump will be formally placed under arrest by the very government he was once elected to lead.

Once he is arrested, Trump will be booked and processed as a federal defendant and then appear before a judge for an arraignment.

Trump, or one of his attorneys, will enter a not guilty plea, touching off the prosecution of the former president.

The courthouse has spent the last several days preparing for Trump's arrival, but there is no outward sign Thursday night that he is days away from appearing.

Prior to news of the indictment, members of the special counsel's team were seen going into and out of court and the room where a grand jury has been hearing evidence.

-ABC News' Aaron Katersky

Jun 08, 7:51 PM EDT
Trump calls investigation a 'hoax'

Former President Donald Trump posted on his social network Truth Social Thursday evening that his lawyers have been informed he's been indicted.

He called the investigation a "hoax" and said he's an "innocent man."

Trump said he has been summoned to appear at the Miami federal courthouse on Tuesday.

Trump's campaign sent out a fundraising email following news of the indictment.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court rules Alabama's congressional maps violate Voting Rights Act

Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Alabama's congressional maps, redrawn after the 2020 census, violate Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of the state's Black voters.

The 5-4 decision, which effectively strikes down Alabama's GOP-drawn election map as illegal, came as a surprise to most court watchers after a series of rulings in recent years sharply rolled back protections against race discrimination under the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, affirmed a lower court ruling that found the existence of only a single majority-black congressional district denied roughly a quarter of the state's electorate an equal opportunity to select political candidates of their choosing.

Section 2, enacted in 1965 and later amended by Congress, says states cannot draw maps that "result in a denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color."

"We find Alabama's new approach to Section 2 compelling neither in theory nor in practice," Roberts wrote in an opinion joined by fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Roberts acknowledged concerns raised by Alabama Republicans that consideration of race in the drawing of election maps may itself "elevate race in the allocation of political power" but concluded "a faithful application of our precedents and a fair reading of the record before us do not bear them out here."

The decision means Alabama will have to redraw its election maps ahead of the next election, likely to include a second majority-Black district as mandated by a lower court. The new maps will likely mean greater minority representation in the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented in the case.

"The question presented is whether Section 2 of the Act, as amended, requires the State of Alabama to intentionally redraw its longstanding congressional districts so that black voters can control a number of seats roughly proportional to the black share of the State's population. Section 2 demands no such thing, and, if it did, the Constitution would not permit it," Thomas wrote in his dissent.

Justice Kavanaugh, who has emerged as a key swing vote on the current court, emphasized the importance of stare decisis -- or precedent -- in his vote to strike down Alabama's map.

He said the Supreme Court has long endorsed a standard that judges voting laws and election maps on their effects, not on the intent of the legislators. That requires, he said, "that courts account for the race of voters so as to prevent the cracking or packing -- whether intentional or not -- of large and geographically compact minority populations."

The plaintiffs in the case, a group of Alabama minority voters, and leading civil rights organizations all hailed the Court's ruling.

"This decision is a crucial win against the continued onslaught of attacks on voting rights," said Deuel Ross, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who argued the case before the court in October.

"Alabama attempted to rewrite federal law by saying race had no place in redistricting. But because of the state's sordid and well-documented history of racial discrimination, race must be used to remedy that past and ensure communities of color are not boxed out of the electoral process," Ross said in a statement.

Michael Waldman, president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan voting rights advocacy, said the Supreme Court had more broadly rejuvenated the power of federal anti-discrimination protections.

"The Voting Rights Act is one of the country's most effective civil rights laws. This decision will ensure that voters of color can continue to use Section 2 to assure their equal opportunity to participate in elections, in Alabama and around the country," Waldman said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland also praised the decision and said the Justice Department would continue to challenge state laws that infringe on the right to vote.

"We will continue to use every authority we have left to defend voting rights. But that is not enough. We urge Congress to act to provide the Department with important authorities it needs to protect the voting rights of every American," Garland said in a statement.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

House Oversight plans UFO hearing after unconfirmed claims of crashed alien spacecraft

J.Castro/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The powerful House Oversight Committee is in the "early stages" of preparing a hearing on UFOs in the wake of unconfirmed claims from a former intelligence official that the U.S. has allegedly found crashed alien spacecraft -- an account the Pentagon says is unsubstantiated.

Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., was first asked about these claims by a NewsNation reporter on Tuesday and said, "I've heard about it, I don't know anything about it. ... We plan on having a hearing."

In a subsequent statement to ABC News on Wednesday, Oversight Committee spokesman Austin Hacker said: "In addition to recent claims by a whistleblower, reports continue to surface regarding unidentified anomalous phenomena. The House Oversight Committee is following these UAP reports and is in the early stages of planning a hearing."

Republican Reps. Anna Paulina Luna and Tim Burchett confirmed on Twitter that they will lead the committee's investigation into UFOs, officially referred to as unidentified anomalous phenomena or UAPs.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said that the Department of Defense's UAP task force, reorganized since 2022 as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), "has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate" the claims about crashed alien craft.

"To date, AARO has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently," Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough told ABC News on Monday night.

The former intelligence official, David Grusch, had alleged on Monday that the U.S. government has a covert program focused on recovering debris from crashed, non-human origin spacecraft and is attempting to reverse-engineer the technology, the online tech outlet The Debrief reported.

There has been no public confirmation of Grusch's account, and a leading House Republican, intelligence chairman Mike Turner, also expressed skepticism about the idea that the U.S. government has recovered alien spacecraft.

Grusch has said he gave evidence of such a program to Congress and the Office of the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, according to The Debrief.

Grusch said that for a little more than six months, until July 2022, he was assigned to a UAP task force that was a predecessor of AARO. He acknowledged to The Debrief that his task force did not have access to the alleged program related to crashed spacecraft but said he became aware of it through his work.

"Every decade there's been individuals who've said the United States has such pieces of unidentified flying objects that are from outer space," Rep. Turner of Ohio said when asked on Fox News about Grusch's claims. "There's no evidence of this and certainly it would be quite a conspiracy for this to be maintained, especially at this level."

In an April hearing, Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of AARO, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his agency was reviewing 650 incidents dating back decades but "found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics."

Last week, Kirkpatrick said that the total number of incidents had grown to "well over 800 cases."

"The majority of unidentified objects reported to AARO demonstrate mundane characteristics of balloons, unmanned aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena, or other readily explainable sources," Kirkpatrick told lawmakers in April.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump informed that he is target of special counsel investigation over classified docs: Sources

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith's office in recent weeks informing him that he is the target of an ongoing investigation related to his handling of classified information while out of office, sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ABC News.

The point of a target letter is to put the subject on notice that they are facing the prospect of indictment.

Department of Justice guidelines state that "the prosecutor, in appropriate cases, is encouraged to notify such person a reasonable time before seeking an indictment in order to afford him or her an opportunity to testify before the grand jury."

Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and argues he is being singled out by enemies.

"I've done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI," he wrote on social media this week.

Lawyers for Trump on Monday met with officials at the DOJ, sources previously said.

That meeting included Smith and a career justice official but neither Attorney General Merrick Garland nor Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, sources said.

Last month, Trump's lawyers requested a meeting with Garland amid fears that the coming weeks could bring a possible indictment regarding Trump's alleged efforts to retain materials after leaving office and obstruct the government's attempts to retrieve them.

The lawyers said they had questions surrounding the integrity of the grand juries investigating the former president.

Smith, the special counsel, was named by Garland in November after Trump launched his third White House bid.

Smith is also investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump is separately charged in New York City with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the final days of the 2016 presidential race.

He pleaded not guilty in that case.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum joins 2024 presidential race against Trump, DeSantis

Stephen Yang/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday jumped into the 2024 presidential race -- becoming the 12th Republican candidate on the list, with a pitch to voters focused on lessons he learned out West.

"We need new leadership for the changing economy. We need a leader who understands the real work that Americans do every day," Burgum said at a campaign kickoff event in Fargo, North Dakota on Wednesday.

"Someone who's worked alongside our farmers, our ranchers and our small business owners; someone who's held jobs where you shower at the end of the day, not at the beginning," he said.

To cheers, he said, "We need a leader who's clearly focused on three things: economy, energy and national security."

He tied energy to both of the other topics. "It takes energy to get things done in America. Clean, reliable, low-cost energy brings manufacturing back to the U.S. and reduces our supply chain risks," Burgum said. "U.S. energy policy can not be separated from either our economy or from our national security. Energy policy directly underpins both, and we need to stop buying energy from our enemies and start selling energy to our friends and allies."

And Burgum harkened back to his roots when discussing national security: "Growing up in a small town, you learn quickly: The enemy isn't each other. Our enemies aren't our neighbors down the street. Our enemies are countries that want to see our way of life destroyed. … We should all be fighting to unite the country against our common enemies like China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and the drug cartels."

During his remarks, Burgum criticized President Joe Biden on various issues, including taxes, an "out of control border ignored by the White House" and economic struggles. However, neither Burgum nor other speakers ever referenced any other Republican candidates for president.

Burgum also blamed Biden for ongoing high inflation, saying, "Every small business owner and every family in our country is feeling the corrosive hidden tax on their lives driven by the Biden-induced inflation. Inflation is the worst; it hurts those the most who can afford it the least."

Calling innovation the "driver of America," Burgum also knocked the Biden administration for being "obsessed with creating mountains of federal red tape" and for actions that increased gas prices.

"Where we come from when something isn't working, you stop and you try something new. That's common sense. Joe Biden has got to go," Burgum said to cheers and applause.

But he concluded his remarks on an optimistic note: "When we take the time to look, we can see that we are surrounded by the best of America. Working together, we will unlock the best of America in all of us."

Burgum, a former software CEO elected in 2016, had teased his announcement with a video released on Monday.

Titled "Change," Burgum's teaser video shows him tracing his biographical roots: "I started a shoeshine business, worked at the grain elevator and as the chimney sweep, paid my way through college then earned an MBA from Stanford. I ignored those who said North Dakota was too small, too cold and too remote to build a world-class software company."

A native of Arthur, North Dakota, Burgum founded Great Plains Software in 1983 and it was ultimately acquired by Microsoft in 2001; Burgum remained active in the company until 2007.

"I literally bet the farm to help turn a small startup into a billion dollar company in North Dakota. People thought I was crazy. A software company in North Dakota? But we ignored those who said North Dakota was too small, too cold, and too distant to build a world class software company. We did it anyway," Burgum said during his campaign kickoff event.

Following Great Plains Software, Burgum went on to start the Kibourne Group, focused on real estate development, in 2006. He co-founded Arthurs Ventures, an investment firm, in 2008.

As a politician, Burgum successfully ran against the Republican Party's preferred candidate in the 2016 gubernatorial primary and overwhelmingly won reelection in 2020. At his campaign kickoff on Wednesday, he said that he and his administration strengthened cybersecurity in the state, bolstered relations with tribal nations, made "record investments" in education and balanced the budget.

Still, he has acknowledged how his small-state background complicates his path on the national stage even though "there's a value to being underestimated all the time," he told The Forum newspaper in May.

At the time, he appealed to what he called the "silent majority" in the country who don't sit on the extremes of any issue.

He seems set to approach the crowded GOP field, which includes former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others, as a small-town conservative focused on issues such as jobs, the economy and national security, while shrinking the government.

"Today, America is facing new challenges and how we respond will define our future," he said in his teaser video. "We need new leadership for our changing economy. Innovation over regulation. Instead of shutting down American oil and gas, we should unleash energy production and start selling energy to our allies instead of buying it from our enemies. High taxes, red tape and inflation are choking every American."

Burgum also invoked the power, he said, of a more moderate tone.

"In North Dakota, we've listened with respect and we talk things out," he said in his video. "That's how we can get America back on track. It worked in that tiny town where I grew up."

Burgum is anticipated to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, which will hold Republicans' first two nominating contests early next year.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Republicans launch new effort to boost early voting, breaking with Trump's past criticism

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican National Committee on Wednesday launched an effort to increase early-vote turnout in 2024, seeking to curtail a Democratic advantage and to put more distance between the GOP and former President Donald Trump's past criticism of mail and early ballots.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced "Bank Your Vote," which the party said in a news release will "encourage, educate, and activate Republican voters on when, where, and how to lock in their votes as early as possible, through in-person early voting, absentee voting, and ballot harvesting where legal."

The effort will have voters sign up at BankYourVote.com, triggering digital reminders from the RNC on early voting options. The party will also activate its volunteer network -- which the RNC said has made more than 300 million volunteer door knocks and phone calls in the last two election cycles -- to activate "neighbor-to-neighbor contact to inform and mobilize Republicans."

"To beat Joe Biden and the Democrats in 2024, we must ensure that Republicans bank as many pre-Election Day votes as possible," McDaniel said in a statement. "The RNC is proud to build on our historic efforts from last cycle and work with the entire Republican ecosystem to reach every state. Banking votes early needs to be the focus of every single Republican campaign in the country, and the Republican National Committee will lead the charge."

Early and mail voting have become increasingly prevalent since the onset of COVID-19 but haven't been embraced equally by both major political parties.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Election Project, 33.8% of the early vote in the 2022 midterms came from Republicans, while 42.5% came from Democrats.

In a show of support for the new initiative across the GOP, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, the chair of House Republicans' campaign arm, and Steve Daines of Montana, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, appointed Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., to co-chair the effort.

"To take back the White House and Senate and strengthen our House majority in 2024, Republicans must play the game by today's rules, which means maximizing our efforts to bank votes before Election Day," Hagerty said in his own statement. "We cannot afford to sacrifice most of the opportunities to bank votes in key states while Democrats run up the score. Encouraging Republicans to securely 'Bank Your Vote' is the only way to protect the vote and reclaim our out-of-control government."

The new effort, as the lawmakers noted, is an attempt to build up enthusiasm for early voting among Republicans.

Trump throughout his presidency and after he lost the 2020 race railed against unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud -- including baseless allegations that early and mail-in voting is particularly ripe for abuse. Republicans are even changing their stance on third-party ballot collection, which is legal in some states.

The GOP's underperformance in the 2022 midterms, in which they lost a seat in the Senate and only barely flipped the House after predicting massive gains in light of economic issues and President Joe Biden's unpopularity, sparked widespread alarm from Republican operatives and activists, leading many to reluctantly press voters to vote via all methods legally available to them.

"One of the first lessons we have to take from the midterms is the power of early voting," activist Charlie Kirk tweeted after the midterms.

Kirk wrote in 2020 that rule changes to early voting in 2020, reflecting public health concerns during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, amounted to "nothing more than a blatant political power play."

The RNC said Wednesday that they will deploy staff and lawyers on the ground and have poll watchers "observe every step of the election process." But McDaniel suggested on a call with reporters that having party figures continue to sound off on concerns over fraud is unhelpful.

"It's simple math: You want to get as many votes in before Election Day," she said. "But that certainly is a challenge if you have people in your ecosystem saying 'don't vote early' or 'don't vote by mail.' And those cross messages do have an impact. I don't think you're seeing that heading into 2024. I think you're seeing all of us singing from the same song."

"We need voters to know that if they vote early, their vote will be protected," McDaniel said on the press call.

Republicans said they hope the RNC initiative will help undo some of the reluctance to early voting that spread during the Trump years.

"Trump led Republicans to give up one of its key advantages over Democrats -- mail-in voting and the absentee ballot chase -- effectively making Republicans fight with one arm behind their electoral back," said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former RNC aide. "This decision takes the cuffs off and allows Republicans to re-use a tactic it had used so well."

ABC News' Caroline Curran contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Standoff between McCarthy, hardline Republicans continues as House remains in recess

Alex Wong/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- House business has been brought to a halt as the standoff continues between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and hard-line conservatives over McCarthy's handling of the debt ceiling deal.

McCarthy, who said he was surprised by the House Freedom Caucus revolt Tuesday on a procedural move to prevent gas stove bans, said it's his intention to hold more votes Wednesday, but none have been scheduled.

"We're talking through it. I think we'll get ... through it," McCarthy said.

The speaker added, "We can't hold up the work for the American people. I can't believe someone would want to hold up not allowing people to pick their own oven or stove they'd like to have."

Several members of the House Freedom Caucus joined 208 Democrats in voting down a rule to take up legislation to prohibit the federal government from banning gas stoves. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in January it had no plans to ban gas stoves, similar efforts have advanced at the state level, such as a law in New York banning natural gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings.

"I feel blindsided. ... Yesterday was started on something else, " McCarthy said, referring to a heated conversation between Rep. Andrew Clyde and Majority Leader Steve Scalise last week during the debt ceiling vote. McCarthy said it was a "miscalculation or misinterpretation."

Members of the House Freedom Caucus were critical in holding up McCarthy's speakership in January in exchange for concessions on House rules, including a stipulation that a single member could force a floor vote of no confidence in the speaker.

Last month, they came out adamantly opposed to the agreement between McCarthy and President Joe Biden to lift the debt ceiling and avert default and warned of a "reckoning" over the issue.

Tuesday's vote was the first opportunity for the conference to express its dismay with the speaker, successfully blocking procedural step H.R. 463, which would have provided for the consideration of two resolutions aimed at staving off hypothetical federal gas stove bans.

McCarthy, though, offered a different take -- branding the first rule vote failure in nearly 21 years as an opportunity to strengthen his speakership.

"I don't think it [the rule] going down is a bad thing. ... You all think that's terrible; everything has to be perfect. I actually like to change things on its head," he said, at one point comparing himself to Goldilocks in that he gets pushed on all sides.

McCarthy reiterated that he is not "worried" about his speakership as hardline conservatives continue to disrupt the GOP House agenda this week over the debt limit deal.

"We've been through this before. You know, we're in a small majority. I didn't take this job because it's easy," he said.

McCarthy said meetings are ongoing to find "a way that we come together."

"The other thing too, I think a lot of you were beginning to not underestimate us when we had such a good victory last week. So, I think this kind of helps lower it again, so you'll underestimate us, so we'll have more victories. So, in the end, when I look back, this may be a very big positive thing," he said.

ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler and Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Onetime Trump loyalists Pence and Christie sharpen their challenges on campaign trail: ANALYSIS

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump might never have become president without them. And his quest to regain the presidency might depend on what they do now to stop him.

With back-to-back announcements this week, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined a swelling roster of Republicans challenging Trump for the 2024 nomination.

They are embracing disparate but perhaps equally impactful strategies to defeat the man they were once so loyal to. Pence is seeking a more delicate way around Trump, paired with an effort to reclaim core tenets of the GOP, while Christie charts a path he describes as straight through Trump.

"Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States," Pence said Wednesday at his campaign launch in Iowa. "And anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president again."

"There's only one lane to the Republican nomination for president and Donald Trump is at the head of it," Christie said on ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "And you have to go right through him and make the case against him."

Both men know well how a scattered field contributed to Trump's rise in late 2015 and early 2016. The Trump campaign greeted their candidacies as fueling a "race for second place," in a reminder of how far they are behind not just Trump but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in early primary polls.

But Pence and Christie also know Trump himself well enough to identify possible vulnerabilities. Pence's case is both more subtle and more radical -- an attempt to reclaim the conservative movement from the man he saw hijack it eight years ago.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page summed his candidacy up in a way Pence could barely improve upon: "Meet Mike Pence, a tested conservative, heir to the Trump economy and the Reagan foreign policy, an evangelical Christian who cites the Word without seeming like a faker."

Christie is taking a more combative and blunt approach that appeals more to political practicalities than ideology. He is pointing out that the GOP lost ground with Trump at the top of the ticket or indirectly on the ballot in 2018, 2020 and 2022 -- and casting him as a policy failure who failed to tame government spending or even complete his signature southern border wall project.

"Eight years ago, you were entertained. I forgive you," Christie said in New Hampshire Tuesday at his kickoff town hall event. "It's not funny anymore. It's not amusing anymore. It's not entertaining anymore."

Christie is speaking from a particular experience that's unique in the field of more than a dozen GOP contenders. He's the only one running against Trump now who already did that once before, and he carries reminders of how the non-Trump candidates largely ignoring him made him impossible to defeat.

Shortly after his own campaign fizzled seven years ago, Christie saw Trump's nomination coming and endorsed him back in February 2016, making him the first major former rival to fall into line. Pence put his hopes behind Sen. Ted Cruz two months after Christie backed Trump publicly, though Pence notably refrained from attacking Trump.

Both would become fierce and powerful Trump loyalists. Pence, of course, joined the ticket, where he helped consolidate evangelical and other conservative voters behind Trump. Christie was a key sounding board and outside adviser who was particularly helpful to Trump on debate prep in both 2016 and 2020.

Christie broke publicly with Trump on election night 2020, when Trump began a torrent of misstatements that would carry through the infamous events of Jan. 6. That was the day that sparked the fateful fissure between Trump and Pence, with Pence refusing Trump's entreaties to seek to overturn the election's certification in Congress.

"President Trump's reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol," Pence said on Wednesday.

There are signs that the whiplash around Trump has hurt both men in their standing inside the Republican Party. A recent Monmouth University poll found Trump as the far and away front-runner and Pence and Christie viewed more negatively than any other major contenders, with 35% of Republicans viewing Pence unfavorably and 47% saying they have an unfavorable view of Christie.

There could be paths -- albeit narrow ones -- for both of the newest contenders, in different early-voting states. Pence is putting his chips on Iowa, the only early nominating battleground Trump didn't capture in 2016. Christie is going all-in on New Hampshire, where GOP Gov. Chris Sununu's decision to forego a race of his own leaves things wide open.

In its broad contours, the race is starting resemble 2016. A wide range of contenders are challenging Trump, who happens to be more popular inside the GOP than he was at the same point in that election cycle, in a dynamic that could carve up the non-Trump wing of a party that has changed substantially over the past decade.

But the entrance of Pence and Christie to the race points to one big difference this cycle. While Trump was largely ignored early on when he first got in, there's no danger of that happening again. Some of those who know Trump best will be making sure of that.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court justices release new financial disclosures – but not for Thomas, Alito

Ryan McGinnis/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- A fresh batch of financial records for justices of the U.S. Supreme Court was published by the federal judiciary on Wednesday, which shed some light on their income and affiliations outside the court did not include key details that critics said will contribute to an elevated atmosphere of mistrust.

These highly anticipated disclosures, which cover all of 2022, arrive in the wake of revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas' financial ties to Texas billionaire and GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, which critics have called an overt breach of rules and norms – and have prompted renewed calls for more robust transparency and enforcement.

But on Wednesday afternoon, when the records were published online, Thomas’ were not among them, suggesting that the conservative firebrand requested an extension. Justice Samuel Alito’s documents were also unavailable online. A court spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Even so, experts said that financial disclosures for the other seven justices would draw more attention than normal under the weight of plummeting public trust and questions about their ethical requirements.

"These will definitely be the most scrutinized Supreme Court disclosures since the disclosure law went into effect 40 years ago," Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a leading Supreme Court watchdog, told ABC News. "That said, I think what people will take away from them is how many unanswered questions remain about the justices' lives outside of the courtroom and their potential entanglements."

The records released Wednesday offer a glimpse into the personal finances of the justices, including income they received last year from book sales, teaching gigs and investments. And this year in these disclosures, for the first time, justices will also have to share information about the sources of free trips, meals and hospitality, under new guidelines minted by the Judicial Conference, the body that sets and enforces policies for U.S. courts.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in March called the new rules "big step toward closing the loopholes that kept the public in the dark about who was paying for justices' lavish lifestyles."

Chief Justice John Roberts defended the integrity of the court in May amid slumping public approval and growing political pressure to tweak the guidelines.

"I want to assure people that I am committed to making certain that we as a Court adhere to the highest standards of conduct," Roberts said at the time.

But to critics, the new supplemental reporting requirements remain insufficient. Justices, for example, will not be required to put a dollar amount of reimbursements for travel expenses or meals, unlike members of Congress and other government officials.

"The public should know that sort of thing," Roth said. "There's a big difference between the Hardee's star and a Michelin star, and between the Ritz and the Radisson."

In April, ABC News reported on how some law schools have sought to leverage their financial resources for opportunities to access Supreme Court justices, often footing the bill for justices and their families to travel around the world for speaking engagements without the justices having to include most details of those trips on disclosure reports.

Advocacy groups and lawmakers have pushed to change that. A bill proposed by Whitehouse would require the court to adopt a "code of conduct" akin to what is imposed on members of Congress, who must report specific dollar amounts of gifts within a month of receiving them.

Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced a separate bill this week that would require the court to appoint an official to handle any violations of a code of conduct.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Former Trump aide, MAGA Inc founder Taylor Budowich, goes before grand jury in classified docs probe

Mint Images/Getty Images

(MIAMI) -- The founder of MAGA Inc and a former Trump aide, Taylor Budowich, is appearing in front of a South Florida grand jury on Wednesday, which is hearing evidence and witness testimony in the classified documents probe.

An ABC News camera caught Budowich going into the federal court in Miami. He did not respond to questions or a request for comment. His lawyer also didn't respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Budowich responded with a Tweet Wednesday, saying this is all an attempt to go after former President Donald Trump.

"Today, in what can only be described as a bogus and deeply troubling effort to use the power of government to 'get' Trump, I fulfilled a legal obligation to testify in front a federal grand jury and I answered every question honestly," Budowich tweeted. "America has become a sick and broken nation—a decline led by Joe Biden and power hungry Democrats. I will not be intimidated by this weaponization of government. For me, the need to unite our nation and make America great again has never been more clear than it is today.

"That starts with re-electing President Donald J. Trump, a purpose I will not be deterred from pursuing," he continued.

This comes as ABC News has previously reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith has expanded his probe into political action committees that were formed by Trump allies.

A federal grand jury investigating the activities leading up the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the push by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election, has expanded its probe to include seeking information about Trump's leadership PAC, Save America, sources with direct knowledge tell ABC News.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mike Pence announces he's challenging Donald Trump in 2024 presidential race

Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mike Pence, kicking off 2024 campaign, suggests Trump can 'never' be president again

(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Mike Pence announced in a video on Wednesday that he is running for president against his former boss -- Donald Trump -- because, he said, "Different times call for different leadership."

In the video, however, Pence did not once mention or show an image of Trump or the event which caused their split: the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Instead, Pence cast the contest as a battle for a country that is "in trouble" under President Joe Biden and what Pence calls the radical left.

"We're better than this. We can turn this country around, but different times call for different leadership. Today, our party and our country need a leader that will appeal, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature," Pence said in the video. "It'd be easy to stay on the sidelines -- but that's not how I was raised. That's why today, before God and my family, I'm announcing I'm running for president of the United States."

Pence echoed that message on Wednesday afternoon during a campaign kickoff with family and supporters in Des Moines, Iowa. He plans to barnstorm the early-voting state to beat Trump on the road to the Republican presidential nomination.

"I know we can bring this country back. We can defend our nation and secure our border. We can revive our economy. We can put our nation back on a path to a balanced budget," Pence said in his speech. "We can defend our liberties and give America a new beginning for life. But it will require new leadership -- in the White House and the Republican Party."

"Ours will be a vision grounded in freedom," he said, adding, "In all this work, we will not seek to divide the American people but instead appeal to the better angels of their nature."

While Pence touted his time serving in the Trump administration -- "together we cut taxes, destroyed ISIS, stood by our allies, stood up to our foes" -- he also again sought to stress his differences with Trump over Jan. 6, repeating his criticism that Trump's push to have him overturn their election loss "endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol."

"The American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now, voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution and I always will," Pence said, later noting how his son, a Marine, has sometimes reminded him they both made the same pledge as public servants.

Without naming Trump specifically, Pence said that "anyone" who would disregard the Constitution should "never" be president.

Still, he said, "I understand the disappointment that many still feel about the outcome of the 2020 election."

But "elections are about the future," he said. And their differences in "vision," he suggested, led to his historically unusual decision to challenge the former president in 2024.

"My differences with my former running mate and others who are in this field also have to do with the values and policies upon which we have built this movement," Pence said.

"When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he promised to govern as a conservative -- together we did just that. Today, he makes no such promise," he said, contending that Trump has been retreating from his support for abortion restrictions and had no plan to address the country's long-term debt and spending issues.

The former congressman and Indiana governor filed paperwork on Monday with the Federal Election Commission to make his candidacy official.

Pence was a loyal No. 2 to Trump until Jan. 6, 2021 -- the climax to Trump's campaign to try and pressure Pence to reject their Electoral College loss, which Pence was constitutionally unable to do as vice president.

Later, Pence said he hoped Trump "would come around in time, that he would see the cadre of legal advisers that he surrounded himself with led him astray, but he hasn't done so."

While Trump has since repeatedly criticized Pence, some others have argued the former vice president should take on Trump to a greater extent.

For example, whereas fellow presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson condemned Trump following Trump's indictment by a New York grand jury -- on charges Trump denies -- Pence sounded similar complaints as the GOP's MAGA wing to try and delegitimize the case. He discouraged the protests the former president called for but noted their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble.

"Pence is very methodical and strategic," said Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. "He's going to take Trump head-on on those things where, politically, he sees the best advantage -- and with an eye to history, as he's obviously trying to do."

Others, like GOP donor Dan Eberhart, who is backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the race, compliment Pence but are concerned with his level of support.

"Mike Pence is a true conservative and a great public servant. He just doesn't have the support among Republicans that he needs to be competitive. His net favorables with Republicans are 18%. That's comparable to Dan Quayle when he ran for president," Eberhart said.

However, Heye said it would be premature for anyone to count Pence out.

"That's why you see so many people getting in," Heye said. "They see a vulnerability with Trump, very clearly. And while he'll certainly have some obstacles, it's clear that Pence knows his weaknesses better than anyone else."

Pence is expected to court the evangelical vote, a significant block of Iowans, and campaign on Ronald Reagan-era conservative values. In his launch ad, he showed a photo of himself as a congressman in the Oval Office with Reagan.

Setting the groundwork for a campaign, Pence has already visited Iowa at least eight times this year, and allies launched a super PAC, called "Committed to America," in May. He also published a memoir, So Help Me God, in November.

"It's hard to think of anybody who would have more credibility in that community than Mike Pence," said Heye.

Expanding primary field

Pence is not the only Trump loyalist-turned-challenger jumping into the 2024 race this week.

Former adviser and former ABC News contributor Chris Christie launched his campaign on Tuesday in New Hampshire, another pivotal early-voting state.

Pence joins a crowded primary field -- where early polls show Trump is ahead of his competitors right now.

Thus far, Pence and Trump's major GOP primary challengers are: Christie, DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chris Christie says path to the Republican nomination means going 'right through' Trump

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, appearing on ABC News' Good Morning America on Wednesday, made clear that any path to the Republican nomination in 2024 means taking down former President Donald Trump.

"There's only one lane to the Republican nomination for president and Donald Trump is at the head of it and you have to go right through him and make the case against him. And that's what I intend to do," Christie said.

Christie kicked off his second presidential campaign Tuesday with a town hall-style event at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, where he pitched himself to voters as a foil to Trump.

He continued that message on Wednesday, telling ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Trump and his team have "put themselves before the American people."

"That's exactly what he's done each and every time when there's been a key decision to make, and Joe Biden is show he is simply not on for the job," Christie said. "I've been tested, tested over and over again in a blue state when I was governor, a very difficult place to govern. And I know how to bring solutions to our party and, most importantly, to our country."

Further digging into Trump, Christie said his administration failed to deliver on immigration, health care and other issues.

"Broken promises like that, George, aren't acceptable anymore to the American people," Christie said. "The stakes are too high. That's the case you need to make and if you make it effectively, I think we will be the nominee."

Christie is joining a crowded Republican primary field that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Former Vice President Mike Pence announced his 2024 run in a video released early Wednesday, in which he criticized President Joe Biden and cast the country as "in trouble" but didn't mention Trump.

Early 2024 primary polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight show Christie in the low single digits, significantly behind Trump and DeSantis.

Christie's willingness to take on Trump directly sets him somewhat apart from the other candidates, who've so far been reluctant to openly criticize the former president and early front-runner. Christie took a jab at his opponents, likening their treatment of Trump to Voldemort, the Harry Potter villain.

But in order to appear on the first debate stage in August, the Republican National Committee is requiring candidates to vow to support the eventual nominee as well as meeting certain polling and fundraising criteria.

Christie's pledged never to support Trump again.

"So will you be on the debate stage? Can you support Donald Trump, if indeed he is the Republican nominee?" Stephanopoulos asked Christie.

"I'll be on the debate stage, and I will take the pledge that the RNC puts in front of me just as seriously as Donald Trump did eight years ago," he responded. "When he signed the pledge ... and then on the first debate stage he didn't raise his hand to say he would support the nominee."

"I'm going to do whatever I need to do to save my party and save my country," Christie added. "We're going to get the 40,000 donors, at least. that you need to be on that stage. We're going to make the case directly to the American people."

Pressed on whether he'd vote for Trump if he was the party's nominee, Christie pushed back: "He's not gonna get the nomination for president because I am."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump's ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows testifies to special counsel grand jury: Sources

Creativeye99/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump's last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the special counsel's investigations into Trump, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Sources said that Meadows answered questions on both Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents while he was out of office.

Meadows' appearance was first reported by The New York Times. It was not immediately clear exactly when he appeared before the grand jury, which has been meeting regularly in Washington.

Neither Meadows nor an attorney for him immediately responded to requests for comment.

His testimony is not unexpected. Earlier this year, a federal judge rejected Trump's claims of executive privilege and ordered Meadows and other former top Trump aides to testify before the grand jury, multiple sources familiar have said.

Meadows had been subpoenaed by special counsel Jack Smith along with the other ex-Trump aides for testimony and documents related to the Department of Justice probe.

Smith was named late last year by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the DOJ's Trump investigations after Trump declared he was running for president in 2024.

Trump has long maintained he did nothing wrong and is being singled out because of politics.

"There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump," a spokesperson for him said in March. "The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle."

Separately, multiple U.S. Secret Service agents connected to former President Trump's detail were subpoenaed by Smith, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Smith is looking into both the handling of classified information at Mar-a-Lago and the Jan. 6 investigation. The agents are believed to be testifying on the handling of classified information, and their testimony is expected in the next few weeks.

The special counsel's office declined to comment.

The detail was first reported by Fox News.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chris Christie launches 2024 bid: Choose 'big' over 'small,' he says, slamming Trump as 'mirror hog'

Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced on Tuesday that he is running for president, adding a firm anti-Trump voice to a still growing Republican primary field that has been hesitant to directly take on the former president and early front-runner.

Christie had no such reluctance about Trump, as he made clear in an hourslong town hall-style event in New Hampshire.

"At every pivotal moment in our history, there was a choice between small and big -- and America became the most different, the most successful, the most fabulous light for the rest of the world in history because we always picked big," Christie said at Manchester's Saint Anselm College, kicking off his campaign.

"The reason I'm here tonight is because this is one of those moments," he said.

At the end of a roughly 30-minute speech, Christie, referencing a past conversation between President John Adams and first lady Abigail Adams, vowed to the audience: "I can't guarantee to you success in what I'm about to do, but I guarantee you that at the end of it, you will have no doubt in your mind who I am and what I stand for and whether I deserve it."

"So that's why I came back to Saint Anselm ... to tell all of you that I intend to seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2024 and I want your support," he said.

In his remarks and answers to audience members' questions, Christie repeatedly called out Trump, labeling him "self-serving" and "self-consumed." Going after Trump was the way to win the nomination, Christie argued.

"Eight years ago, it was amusing. Eight years ago, you were entertained. I forgive you," he said of Trump's 2016 campaign. "It's not funny anymore. It's not amusing anymore. It's not entertaining anymore."

Christie, a former ABC News contributor, made clear that he was not only campaigning to call out the man he largely supported throughout his four years in the White House; he entered this race because he also wants to win, he said.

"The reason I'm going after Trump is twofold. One, he deserves it. And two, it's the way to win. So these two are not divided. ... Let me be very clear: I am going out there to take out Donald Trump, but here's why -- I want to win," Christie said.

He also called out other Republicans whom he said do not call out Trump by name, likening it to the suspicion about Voldemort -- "he who shall not be named" -- from the Harry Potter series.

While Christie initially jabbed at Trump more subtly -- calling him a "mirror hog" -- eventually he invoked the ex-commander-in-chief.

"Let me be clear, in case I have not been already: The person I am talking about, who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault and who always find someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong, but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right -- is Donald Trump," Christie said. "And if we don't have that conversation with you, we don't deserve to ask for your vote."

Later, asked by a 15-year-old attendee how he planned to "win over Trump voters" when he doesn't seem to be appealing to them, Christie rejected the premise -- after joking that he was glad the young man wasn't old enough to vote.

"There is no such thing as Trump voters. He doesn't own them. He didn't take title to them. They're not one of his buildings. They're not one of his failed casinos in New Jersey," Christie said. "I voted for him twice. OK, am I a Trump voter, then? Hell no, man."

"Elections in the United States of America are not about anything other than a choice," he continued, arguing that this election, voters will have new options to make a choice other than Trump.

While he spent much of the nearly three-hour event contrasting himself with Trump, Christie also made the case against President Joe Biden, arguing Biden was past his prime.

"I've known him for 40 years. He's a nice man. He is out of his depth. Because he's not the guy he used to be," Christie said. "Father time always wins -- he always wins. And he's not what he used to be. So we don't need someone timid, quiet, who's not speaking to us regularly in the White House."

Christie kicked off his campaign in a key early primary state that was also a focus for the former governor during his 2016 campaign, his first attempt at winning the White house. That bid ended days after the "first-in-the-nation" primary, where he placed sixth despite his extensive efforts in the state. Soon after he dropped out, he endorsed then-candidate Trump and continued to largely back Trump throughout his presidency.

That changed after rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, following a monthslong campaign by Trump and his allies to delegitimize the results of the 2020 election by alleging mass fraud. No evidence has arisen to support those false claims.

Christie joins an already large field that in addition to the former president includes former Ambassador to the U.N. and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is currently polling in second behind Trump.

Trump reacted to Christie's launch in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social. Trump appeared to have been watching at least some of Christie's remarks live, based on when he posted.

"How many times did Chris Christie use the word SMALL? Does he have a psychological problem with SIZE? Actually, his speech was SMALL, and not very good. It rambled all over the place, and nobody had a clue of what he was talking about," Trump wrote, calling Christie "hard to watch," "boring" and a "failed" governor.

Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor who served as Trump's loyal vice president until the events of Jan. 6, on Monday filed paperwork for his presidential candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and is expected to formally announce his long-expected campaign Wednesday in Iowa.

Doug Burgum, the relatively nationally unknown governor of North Dakota, is also expected to launch his campaign Wednesday.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

GOP revolt on gas stove vote shows fragility of McCarthy's speakership: ANALYSIS

Win McNamee/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The gas stove debate is boiling over, but it's Kevin McCarthy's speakership that may have been burned.

A procedural first step to take up GOP-backed legislation to prohibit the federal government from banning gas stoves failed Tuesday afternoon -- at the hands of 12 GOP lawmakers.

It was merely the first opportunity for House Freedom Caucus members dissatisfied with McCarthy and President Joe Biden's debt limit deal to revolt publicly against the speaker, joining 208 Democrats to vote down the rule.

While it may be wonky, this procedural hurdle puts the fragility of McCarthy's speakership on full display.

"We're not going to live in the era of the imperial speaker anymore," GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz told reporters after he voted against the rule Tuesday.

"We're not going to live in an era where our members are punished like this," the Florida lawmaker said, referring to Rep. Andrew Clyde.

Clyde told reporters earlier Tuesday that GOP leadership threatened not to bring up one of his sponsored bills if he voted against the debt ceiling rule last week.

On the House floor Tuesday afternoon, nearly a dozen Freedom Caucus members -- including Gaetz and Clyde -- engaged in heated conversations with Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Whip Tom Emmer. Reporters in the gallery could hear the back and forth while the vote was open for more than 40 minutes.

Scalise ultimately switched his vote to no, allowing the GOP to take advantage of a House procedure to bring up the rule vote again later.

The procedural step, H.R. 463, would have provided for the consideration of House Resolutions 1640 and 1615. H.R. 1640, the "Save Our Gas Stoves Act," would prohibit the Department of Energy from finalizing the energy efficiency rules for gas stoves. H.R. 1615, the "Gas Stove Freedom and Protection Act," would prohibit the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves as a hazardous product or issuing any product safety standard that would prohibit the sale of gas stoves or make them significantly more expensive.

The CPSC said in January it had no plans to ban gas stoves, although similar efforts have advanced at the state level, such as a law in New York banning natural gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings.

McCarthy made several concessions to members of his party in his campaign for the speaker's gavel earlier this year, including allowing a single member to introduce a motion to vacate.

Tuesday marks the first time in nearly 21 years that a rule vote has failed to pass the House. Even on the most contentious pieces of legislation, the majority party is able to deliver enough votes to open up floor debate of the given bill itself.

It also marks the second time in less than a week that McCarthy has faced an uphill battle during a procedural rubber stamp vote due to his slim majority: 222 Republicans to 213 Democrats. When the House needed to pass the rule on the debt ceiling deal last week, the speaker had to rely on 52 Democrats to pass it after he lost 29 GOP defectors.

As McCarthy meets with members of the Freedom Caucus in his office tonight, the chamber is at a standstill until further notice.

ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.