WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reports which surfaced Thursday claiming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was stepping down after the 2018 mid-term are untrue, says White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.
“The president did speak to the speaker not too long ago and made sure that the speaker knew very clearly — and in no uncertain terms — that if that news was true, he was very unhappy with it,” Sanders said during Thursday’s White House press briefing. “The speaker assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time to come.”
Reports of Ryan’s departure also seemed to catch the Speaker himself by surprise when he was asked about it during a press conference on Thursday.
“No,” Ryan replied with a smirk when asked if the claims were true.
The denials from Ryan and the White House come after a report surfaced from Politico (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/14/paul-ryan-retire-speaker-ready-leave-washington-216103) which claimed Ryan told confidantes he planned on stepping down while “on top” if a proposed tax cut bill being pushed for by Republicans is passed.
“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,” the Politico report claimed. “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.”
“This is pure speculation. As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon,” spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in response to the Politico report .
Asked whether President Trump was caught off guard by reports of Ryan’s rumored departure, Sanders said that Trump and Ryan were both surprised “because I don’t think it was very accurate reporting.”
Calls for additional comment from Ryan’s spokesperson were not immediately returned.