Steele on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" said that figures like Greene have "political, financial, and other sway" over Republican leaders in the House.
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele on Friday said that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would be "the most powerful speaker of the House" if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ascends to the speakership.
During a roundtable discussion on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Steele told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that Greene would be able to "control what comes out of Kevin's mouth," and other ultraconservative Republican lawmakers would have immense sway over a Speaker McCarthy during the next Congress — especially as he will likely have to make major concessions to some members in order to secure the requisite votes needed to become speaker.
Steele, who remarked that the overall GOP response to former President Donald Trump
's dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, was not forceful enough, also said that many in party leadership were capitulating to figures like Greene — who continue to hold immense influence among Freedom Caucus members.
"The leadership of the party with the sort of milquetoast, 'Oh, we don't like antisemitism,' without saying that the antisemitic former president is the case to be made and to draw that very bright line and say: 'This is not who we are, nor is it who we want to be' ... I have not heard it. That small fraction of the party still has political, financial, and other sway and control over the leadership," Steele said.
"Marjorie Taylor Greene will be the most powerful speaker of the House because she will have the opportunity to control what comes out of Kevin's mouth around the things that matter to that small cadre," he continued to say. "I just call the thing what it is. You call it shadow. I call it the thing — because you can't break that separation when you're dragging her to your events and you're propping her up, and you're telling her, 'Not only are we going to put you back in the same committee, we're going to give you a powerful leadership role.'"
At the moment, McCarthy has been rounding up the necessary votes in what will likely be a 222-seat House GOP majority in January, which would only be four more seats than the 218-seat threshold needed to secure control of the chamber.
So far, five Republicans have said that they won't back McCarthy as speaker, and the California lawmaker on Monday warned his fellow GOP members that Democrats could select the next speaker if the party decides to "play games" on the House floor.