WASHINGTON — Hours after announcing his plans to retire at the end of the 115th Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other congressional leaders went to the White House for a private dinner with President Trump.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy(R-Calif.), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) attended, along with Vice President Pence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
“Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!” tweeted President Trump.
Before the dinner, Ryan told CNN that his opinion on how Trump should handle the special counsel investigation is “compartmentalize it and focus on doing your job.”
Ryan said he thought it was “not true” that he wouldn’t be speaker again after the impending midterms, maintaining that Republicans “have an excellent track record to run on.”
“I’m confident we can keep this majority. It’s one of the reasons why I was comfortable making this decision… in a funny way, I decided to do this,” he said.
On his relationship with Trump, Ryan said, “I’m from the Upper Midwest. I’m not from New York. We’re from a different generation. So we definitely have different styles. But what we learned after we got to know each other, because we didn’t know each other at all in the campaign — and, yes, we had a pretty — we had a lot of friction in our relationship. What we learned is, we have a common agenda that we agree on, and we want to get it done, and we know it’s going to make a big difference in people’s lives. And that is what we were elected to do.”
Ryan said he didn’t see his agreements with Trump “as some Faustian bargain, devil’s bargain, or whatever it is you call it.”
“I see it as the country said, go fix these problems. You guys get the majority in the House, you get the majority in the Senate. Here is the presidency,” he said. “Now go do something with it.”
Asked to reflect on his best and worst moments, Ryan said the worst moment was losing the majority in 2006 — “a pretty ugly time, when we lost that majority” — and “losing the 2012 election was a pretty tough moment for me.”
“I was on the ticket with Mitt, as you know,” he added. “Those were tough moments.”
“I think getting tax reform done was one of the best moments. That’s something I have been working on for over 20 years. Ever since I worked for Jack Kemp, I have been working on tax reform. I think it is critical to laying a strong foundation of economic growth,” Ryan continued. “I think there are a lot of things in this tax bill that help advance our poverty-fighting agenda, like enterprise zones, social impact bonds. There’s a lot of things here that a lot of Americans don’t even know about yet that I’m really proud about it. And I’m excited about advancing some issues I really care about that. And that is really what I’m most proud about.”