Speaker Mike Johnson meets Trump at Mar-a-Lago after going 'all in' on former president

Johnson helped lead the effort in the House to reverse Trump's 2020 loss.

November 21, 2023, 6:19 PM

Newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson met with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Monday night, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The meeting, which took place at a fundraiser for Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., marked the first time the two have met in-person since Johnson was elected on Oct. 25. (The meeting was first reported by Punchbowl News.)

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, was relatively little known before being chosen by the House GOP to lead the chamber. Unlike predecessor Kevin McCarthy, he quickly jumped into the 2024 presidential race, saying on CNBC this month that he was "all in for President Trump" in the upcoming election and had "endorsed him wholeheartedly."

The speaker also recently moved to release the complete surveillance footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, saying in a statement that he wanted the public to be able to "see for themselves what happened that day."

Democrat Rep. Joe Morelle of New York criticized him for "allowing virtually unfettered access to sensitive Capitol security footage."

Johnson, who helped lead the effort in the House to reverse Trump's 2020 election loss, has recently declined to answer whether he stood by that decision.

His views on Trump have evolved over time, with comments from 2015 recently resurfacing in which he wrote on Facebook that Trump was a "hot head" and "lacks the character and the moral center we desperately need again in the White House."

Former President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson
Getty Images

The meeting between the highest elected Republican in the nation and the leading GOP presidential contender comes as Johnson is adjusting to his speakership after a fractious, weekslong battle among Republicans following McCarthy's ouster in early October.

As speaker, Johnson helped pass a short-term government funding bill earlier this month that didn't include steep spending cuts -- similar to the kind of legislation that led GOP hard-liners to remove McCarthy -- and Johnson faces the same challenges running the House, though he is seen as more economically and socially conservative.

Johnson's meeting at Mar-a-Lago further underscores Trump's continued sway with conservatives, even as he faces an unprecedented four criminal cases, all of which he denies.

Trump maintains large leads in both nationwide and early state polling of Republican voters as he seeks the party's 2024 presidential nomination.

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