Johnson calls on the president of Columbia University to resign

Speaker Mike Johnson called for Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign amid a wave of antisemitic protests that have roiled the Upper Manhattan Ivy League campus.

Johnson’s comments to The Hugh Hewitt Show on Wednesday morning make him the most senior elected official to demand the president’s resignation, and he’s slated to visit the campus in the afternoon. It’s another sign Republicans are looking to impose federal consequences on prominent universities that have seen waves of protests related to the fallout from the war in Gaza.

“This President Shafik has [been] shown to be very weak and inept leader. They cannot even guarantee the safety of Jewish students,” Johnson said. “Every political official — every citizen of good conscience — has to speak out and say that this is not who we are in America, and we got to have accountability and that’s what my colleagues and I are going to be working on.”

The position isn’t exactly surprising, marking a relatively easy way for Johnson to align with the more conservative wing of his conference — who he’s hoping will cool down before returning to D.C. next week, as some consider a vote to oust him — without irritating centrists. All 10 New York House GOP lawmakers have called on Shafik to resign, including those from Biden-won districts. No. 4 House Republican Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) has also championed those demands.

The speaker said he would meet with Jewish students and Rabbi Yuda Drizin at Columbia before holding a press conference with several House colleagues, including New York GOP Reps. Mike Lawler, Nicole Malliotakis and several other members of the state delegation.

A group of House Democrats visited the campus on Tuesday and called on the school to do more to protect Jewish students.

In the interview, Johnson proposed cutting federal funding to schools who cannot control the protesters or revoking student visas for some involved in the antisemitic protests. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday floated the idea of calling in the National Guard to Columbia.

“We need to revoke federal funding to these universities if they cannot keep control,” the speaker said. “We need to revoke these student visas for these violent protesters. You don’t have a right to be here and to do this.”