Trump holds Mar-a-Lago joint appearance with Johnson amid speakership threat

"He's doing a really good job under very tough circumstances," Trump said.

April 12, 2024, 6:12 PM

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson appeared together Friday at the former president's Florida estate, a show of unity as the embattled Johnson faces a threat to his leadership.

"He's doing a really good job under very tough circumstances and I appreciate that he came to Mar-a-Lago," Trump said of Johnson.

The focus of their joint appearance was on what they call "election integrity" -- a chief priority for Trump, who continues to lie about the results of the 2020 presidential race. Trump's attention on the issue comes in an election year when there is expected to be another tight matchup against President Joe Biden.

Johnson, who was one of the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, said Friday congressional Republicans will introduce legislation to require people who register to vote in a federal election to prove that they are an American citizen.

As he outlined the proposal, Johnson made several false claims about noncitizens voting in elections -- repeating assertions Trump has made in recent days.

Both leaders also used the opportunity to continue to slam President Joe Biden and Democrats over their handling of the southern border, with Johnson falsely stating that they wanted to turn migrants crossing the border illegally into voters, claiming that they could sway the November presidential election.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks as Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, listens during a news conference, April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks as Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, listens during a news conference, April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

Trump claimed he would not, if elected, sign a national abortion ban, something Johnson supports.

Also looming large over the appearance were other recent areas of disagreement between Trump and Johnson on additional Ukraine aid and the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Trump encouraged House GOP hard-liners this week to block reauthorizing FISA, resulting in an embarrassing setback for Johnson though the legislation ultimately passed the House earlier Friday with bipartisan support.

Asked about the FISA passage, Trump said he was still not a "big fan" of FISA but said he told everyone to "do what you want." The bill passed reauthorizes a key FISA program for two years, meaning that if Trump is elected he will have the opportunity to review it again.

On Ukraine aid, Trump said he and Johnson were "looking at it right now." He appeared to back the idea of House Republicans considering making aid available to Ukraine as a loan, and he continued his criticism of how Washington has handled assistance to the war-torn ally as it fends off Russian invaders.

Such topics are points of contention between Johnson and the far-right wing of his party, including Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, who introduced a motion to vacate the speaker's chair last month.

Greene and Johnson met this week for the first time since she filed the motion. They appeared still at odds after nearly an hour of conversation, as Greene didn't back away from her threat to force a vote on whether to remove him from the top post.

The Georgia congresswoman told reporters she heard a lot of "excuses" from Johnson and that she urged him not to move forward with Ukraine aid.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, speaks as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump listens during a news conference, April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, speaks as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump listens during a news conference, April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

Trump's orbit isn't happy with Greene -- a long-vocal Trump supporter -- and her threat to throw the House GOP into chaos again with another speakership battle, Politico's Rachael Bade, also an ABC News political contributor, reported.

Another battle for the speaker's chair could undercut the Republican Party's efforts to maintain its majority in the House, flip the Senate and win the White House, Bade reported.

Trump said he gets along "very well" with both Johnson and Greene when asked about the situation during the joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago.

"He's doing about as good as you're going to do," Trump said of Johnson. "I'm sure Marjorie understands that, she's a very good friend of mine and I know she has a lot of respect for the speaker."

Pressed further on Greene's motion to vacate, Trump said it was "unfortunate that people bring it up because right now we have much bigger problems."

ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

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