President Mike Johnson visited former President Donald J. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday evening, according to a person familiar with the meeting, making his first pilgrimage to kiss the Republican frontrunner’s ring in the presidential election since his arrival. surprise elevation to the House’s top job last month.
The visit to Mr. Trump’s Florida home comes at a delicate time for the inexperienced speaker, who is already facing criticism from far-right allies furious with him for teaming up with Democrats last week to pass a law aimed at avoiding a government shutdown. The person confirmed the private meeting on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.
Mr. Trump’s influence on Washington’s spending struggles may be limited, but Mr. Johnson’s decision to meet with him weeks after his election is a sign that he knows he cannot allow Mr. Trump to weigh publicly against him and harden the right. opposition to his leadership.
Mr Johnson has taken other steps to curry favor with the far right and consolidate his grip on the gavel. Late last week, he announced he was releasing surveillance video of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, a move that far-right lawmakers and activists are calling for as they seek to deny the facts about how Mr. Trump’s supporters. violently stormed the complex in an attempt to overturn his electoral defeat.
Since Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, Republican leaders in Congress have had to maintain some sort of working relationship with him. But Mr. Johnson, who defended the former president in two Senate impeachment trials and played a leading role in trying to help him overturn the 2020 election results, is positioning himself as the first speaker to be in total agreement with the former president.
The meeting at Mar-a-Lago was reported earlier by Punchbowl News.
Last week, Mr. Johnson officially endorsed Mr. Trump — a move that former President Kevin McCarthy resisted while proclaiming that the former president would be the Republican nominee and win re-election.
“I wholeheartedly supported him for re-election in 2020 and traveled with his team as a campaign surrogate to help ensure his victory,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement to the New York Times. “I fully supported him once again.”
The endorsement followed a Times report that in 2015, Mr. Johnson posted on social media that Mr. Trump was unfit to serve and could pose a danger as president.
“The problem with Donald Trump is that he doesn’t have the character and moral center that we desperately need back in the White House,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on August 7 2015. “I’m afraid he’s going to break up.” more things than he repairs. He is a hothead by nature, and that is a dangerous trait to have in a commander in chief.
Mr. Johnson, who until last month never held a high-level executive post, was in Florida on a fundraising trip. He stopped at Mar-a-Lago for an event for Representative Gus Bilirakis, Republican of Florida, according to the person familiar with the meeting with Mr. Trump.
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson did not provide further information about the meeting.