Donald Trump will meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP congressional leaders on Thursday
The meeting comes after Ryan sparked a political firestorm by saying he's "just not ready" to support Trump
Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will meet Thursday with House Speaker Paul Ryan and top GOP congressional leaders soon, Ryan’s office announced in a statement.
“Having both said we need to unify the party, Speaker Ryan has invited Donald Trump to meet with members of the House Republican leadership in Washington on Thursday morning to begin a discussion about the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November,” the statement read. “The Speaker and Mr. Trump will also meet separately, along with (Republican National Committee) Chairman Reince Priebus.”
Ryan added in a tweet, “I’ve invited @realDonaldTrump for a meeting with GOP leaders next week, and I look forward to the discussion.”
On Friday morning, Trump confirmed he intended to meet with Ryan next week, but wasn’t sure what they’d talk about.
“I have absolutely no idea,” Trump said of the conversation topic. “There are a lot of days before that.”
The meeting comes after Ryan sparked a political firestorm on Thursday by telling CNN he’s “just not ready” to support Trump, underscoring the divide in the GOP over the real estate mogul becoming the party’s standard-bearer.
Trump did not refer to the meeting during a rally Friday in Omaha, Nebraska. But he said, “I don’t know what happened” when speaking about Ryan’s bombshell announcement.
“He called me two, three weeks ago, it was a very nice conversation, he was congratulating me,” Trump said. “This is before we had the ultimate victory, but he was congratulating me for doing so well, so I figured routinely he would be behind it and he, the other day, just did a big surprise, because I’ve had so many endorsements.”
Speaking with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview set to air Sunday, Trump said he doesn’t think he needs to earn Ryan’s support and previewed a message he’ll deliver to the speaker next week.
“I’m gonna say, ‘Look, this is what the people want,’” Trump said.
Efforts to get more Republicans behind Trump
Trump became the presumptive nominee with just a small group of Hill backers, but now that the divisive primary process is over, his campaign team and supporters in Congress are hoping more Republicans will publicly come around and help in the fall election.
Scott Mason, a Trump campaign staffer, met Thursday in Washington with roughly a dozen top chiefs of staff of members of Congress who have already endorsed Trump. They discussed plans for Trump to meet with key congressional Republican leaders, as well and other rank-and-file members interested in hearing about campaign strategy on Capitol Hill.
Rick Dearborn, chief of staff to Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, a close Trump ally, had been making calls to Republicans, including to top leadership offices.
Much of the discussion at Thursday’s session was about the need for the party to unite around Trump.
“There’s excitement after Indiana that things are moving forward, but there’s work to be done on unification. We’re moving into a general election mindset,” one senior congressional aide who attended the meeting told CNN.
Trump is planning a series of policy speeches on a range of issues including the economy, infrastructure, health care and the judiciary. His campaign is tapping into the expertise of members of Congress who serve on various committees dealing with these issues as he prepares to roll out details on his proposals in coming weeks.
The Trump campaign had already set up weekly meetings with supporters in Congress at the Capitol Hill Club, and these have included discussions with top advisers Paul Manafort and Ed Brookover. The outreach has stepped up in recent days with daily conference calls among those backing Trump, many of whom are appearing as surrogates on television, so they can get updates on what the campaign is doing.
CNN’s Tal Kopan, Ted Barrett and Travis Sattiewhite contributed to this report.