Johnson’s visit is the latest sign that congressional Republicans remain devoted to Trump, as the ex-president defends himself in multiple criminal cases. The meeting recalls former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago weeks after Trump instigated a riot at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.
Spokespeople for Johnson and Trump did not respond to requests for confirmation of the meeting.
Leading the House Republican conference is a tricky balancing act that requires placating the die-hard Trump supporters on one side without overly alienating moderate Republicans on the other side. McCarthy lost the speaker’s gavel last month after he disappointed far-right lawmakers by not shutting down the government like Trump had recommended.
Johnson himself angered the right-wingers by not shutting down the government this month, but so far has not faced a serious reprisal. Last week he fulfilled a key hardliner demand by releasing security camera footage from inside the Capitol during the January 2021 riot, when Trump supporters attacked police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Trump’s allies have already used the footage to expand their repertoire of baseless conspiracy theories blaming shadowy actors for the attack.
Last week during an interview on CNBC, Johnson endorsed Trump in his bid to retake the White House. When asked about Trump’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election result and “questions about democracy,” Johnson said voters should focus instead on policy and more parochial concerns.
“I think you set aside those things and you look at what is best for your family, you look at what is best for your security, your safety, the economy, your pocketbook, all of these things,” Johnson said. “We have to make radical changes.”