Inside Donald Trump and Speaker Johnson’s mutually beneficial relationship

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Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., was in New York for various events when he reached out to former President Trump to inform him he would be at the Manhattan courthouse, where Trump’s criminal trial was taking place the very next morning.

Johnson made the decision himself and contacted Trump directly, a source close to the speaker told Fox News Digital. Multiple people said he rode with Trump in his motorcade on Tuesday morning.

‘I came here… today on my own to support President Trump because I am one of hundreds of millions of people and one citizen who is deeply concerned about this, so I’m glad to be here,’ he told reporters afterward.

Johnson was the highest-ranking federal lawmaker to show up at Trump’s criminal proceedings so far – a public symbol of the staunch alliance the two have built since Johnson became speaker after a tumultuous series of events in October.

Multiple people close to Trump and Johnson told Fox News Digital that they speak frequently, with one GOP lawmaker estimating they talk ‘at least weekly’ but added ‘it depends on the issue.’

The source close to Johnson told Fox News Digital that the speaker keeps Trump in the loop on the major moves being made in the House of Representatives.

Those same allies stressed that the relationship, a close one for an elected congressional leader and their party’s presumptive presidential nominee, is positive for both the House and the GOP as a whole.

‘It helps both sides. It helps the House, but it also helps the party, because you’re coming in from two different directions at the same general goal,’ Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., who previously served in Trump’s Cabinet, told Fox News Digital.

Zinke said Trump and Johnson have a very good working relationship, arguing their ‘uniquely different’ personalities make for a good match.

‘I think they both understand that unity of effort is required, and it has to be a cordial relationship… I think there’s a realization that if we hold the House, that would be an imperative for the America First agenda,’ Zinke said. ‘You have a 100% New Yorker with high elbows and a lot of bravado. And then you have a Louisiana son of a firefighter that is kind and low-key. So maybe it’s a good match.’

Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., told Fox News Digital, ‘President Trump, behind the scenes and in public, speaks well of [Johnson]. I think, like a lot of people, he trusts him.’

Meuser added, ‘[Trump] thinks he could probably improve in certain areas. As I’ve said, some of those bills, I just think we should have fought harder for. But I think they really have a special relationship.’

Indeed, Trump has exercised his powerful influence to help Johnson out of legislative jams before – like expressing public support against GOP rebels’ threats to oust the speaker from leadership, and showing tacit support for Johnson’s plan on foreign aid.

Johnson, for his part, has vehemently defended Trump amid his criminal trials and even recently floated defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith. 

That support extends behind closed doors as well – Johnson touted Trump’s poll numbers in critical swing states during a members-only House GOP Conference meeting on Wednesday morning, multiple people said.

And while he was not the first House GOP leader to endorse Trump’s re-election, his decision to do so was swift and, like much of Johnson’s political calculus surrounding the ex-president, appears to have been a unilateral decision.

Ahead of his November CNBC interview when Johnson made news by endorsing Trump, the source close to him recalled it was suggested that the speaker wait until his political team could put together a formal rollout. 

But Johnson argued that it made no sense to wait because he already supported the ex-president’s re-election, the source said, and then caught staff off guard when he told ‘Squawk Box,’ ‘I’m all in for President Trump.’

Multiple lawmakers categorized Trump and Johnson’s relationship as a productive but working one – the GOP lawmaker who spoke with Fox News Digital said they started out at ‘nearly zero’ – but the source pushed back, citing a recent interview in The Atlantic where Johnson said Trump called him the day after Johnson had to abruptly leave a meeting because his sons had almost drowned.

‘President Trump heard about it somehow – miraculously, this never made the news,’ Johnson had said. ‘He was just so moved by the idea that we almost lost them… and we talked about the faith aspect of that, because he knows that I believe that, you know – that God spared the lives of my sons. That’s how I understand those events, and we talked about that.’

Trump also had a good relationship with Johnson when the latter was part of Trump’s impeachment defense team in 2020, the source said.

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, another staunch Trump ally, told Fox News Digital, ‘I think it’s a healthy relationship. I think they both respect each other. And they don’t always agree, but who does? But you know, I think that they’ve got a relationship where they can get together in person or get on the phone and talk about stuff and come up with a common plan, a common strategy.’

Rep. Andy Barr, of Kentucky, another Republican close to both, said their relationship was ‘very beneficial’ to both sides.

‘A lot of credit [goes] to both gentlemen for recognizing that they need each other. We need to collaborate and not just politically, but we want to have an effective first 100 days. We want to grow our majority, take back the White House and flip the Senate, and we want to be ready day one,’ Barr said.

Fox News Digital reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

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