House Speaker Mike Johnson meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago to bolster relationship

House Speaker Mike Johnson has met with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago as the new leader tries to bolster his relationship with the most powerful figure in the Republican Party.

Following a well-worn path for GOP politicians, Johnson journeyed to Trump’s plush estate to signal his fealty to the former president, who’s now vying for another shot at the White House.

The two leaders met after attending a separate fundraising event hosted by a pro-Trump Florida congressman, several media outlets reported.

The sit down came after Johnson sought to signal in recent days that he is strongly behind Trump‘s 2024 presidential campaign.

“I’m all in for President Trump,” Johnson said in an interview with CNBC. “I have endorsed him wholeheartedly.”

Unequivocally backing Trump in the still-unfolding Republican primary race represents a very different approach by Johnson than that of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, his predecessor as speaker.

Johnson and Trump barely knew one another before Johnson became speaker, although the Louisiana Republican has been a strong supporter of his MAGA movement.

Neither Trump nor Johnson immediately commented on their meeting.

Aside from Johnson’s support for Trump in the presidential primary, it wasn’t clear if the former president has demands for the new House leader related to legislation or other issues.

Johnson last week successfully orchestrated passage of a stopgap spending bill that averted a government shutdown and pushed more spending disputes until 2024.

Many of Trump’s hardline right-wing supporters in Congress strongly opposed the deal, which Johnson passed with the near-unanimous backing of Democrats. But so far they have not called for his ouster.

He threw a bone to Trump’s supporters by releasing thousands of hours of security footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a key demand of MAGA hardliners.

McCarthy praised Trump but hewed close to the traditional position of party officials to stay neutral in contested presidential primaries until a presumptive nominee is established.

The former president says he is already the presumptive nominee by virtue of his overwhelming lead in polls, despite the fact that no votes have been cast.

He is demanding that all Republican officials get behind him now or potentially suffer the political consequences of incurring his wrath.

That dynamic played out during McCarthy’s failed battle to keep the speaker’s gavel and the tortuous fight to settle on a successor.

Trump did not put up a fight to keep McCarthy in power, a reticence that aligns with their longstanding lukewarm political and personal relationship.

Trump effectively torpedoed the speaker candidacy of Rep. Tom Emmer, who is the No. 3 Republican in the House, and boosted the failed candidacy of Rep. Jim Jordan, one of his closest allies in Congress.

After Jordan’s bid collapsed, Trump urged Republican lawmakers to unite behind Johnson, who wound up winning in a unanimous vote of the House GOP caucus.