Speculation that House Speaker Paul Ryan may be retiring after the 2018 midterm elections has escalated following a report that prompted a call from President Donald Trump.
A story published Thursday by Politico indicated that Capitol Hill insiders think the Wisconsin Republican intends to retire at the end of his term.
According to Politico:
Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are already making plans to replace Ryan as speaker, the report revealed.
But Ryan apparently assured the president that the rumors were not accurate when Trump called him.
“The president did speak to the Speaker not too long ago and made sure that the Speaker knew very clearly … that if that news was true he was very unhappy with it,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in the daily press briefing.
Ryan “assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time,” Sanders said.
Washington Post White House reporter, Josh Dawsey, tweeted Thursday that President Trump reacted to the Poltico report with a direct call to Ryan.
Trump called Paul Ryan after Politico story broke and asked him if he was leaving. Ryan told Trump he wasn’t “going anywhere,” per aide.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 14, 2017
Ryan told Politico’s Jake Sherman that while he didn’t plan to leave Congress any time soon, the “passage of tax reform would be a high note” to leave on.
“There’s a whole lot of rumors and speculation that the speaker may step aside,” a GOP member told HuffPost, which also published a story Thursday headlined, “When Will Paul Ryan Step Down?”
The 10-term congressman reluctantly accepted the speakership when John Boehner resigned, though he did not see it as a long-term position.
“In the months following Trump’s victory, he began contemplating the scenarios of his departure,” Politico reported. “More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress.”
The speaker would then have one final year “to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform,” the report said.
But when asked about the rumors by reporters as he exited the Capitol, CNN reported Ryan said, “I ain’t goin’ anywhere.” An aide to Ryan told CNN. “The speaker reassured the President ‘I’m not going anywhere!'”
Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, called the rumors “pure speculation” in a statement. “As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.”
“It sounds like it may have caught Speaker Ryan by surprise,” Sanders added discussing Ryan’s relationship with Trump.”Because I don’t think it was very accurate reporting. It sounds like they’re both committed to — and looking forward to — spending a lot more time together over the next, hopefully, seven or eight years.”
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