The White House is pushing back on a report by Politico Thursday that House Speaker Paul Ryan is considering leaving Washington at the end of next year.
Asked whether the president was aware of the reports, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president spoke to Ryan and that the reports are false.
“The president did speak to the Speaker not too long ago and made sure the speaker knew very clearly and in no uncertain terms that if that news was true he was very unhappy with it,” Sanders said “The Speaker assured the president those were not accurate reports and that they looked forward to working together for a long time to come.”
Pressed on whether the president was caught by surprise by the report, Sanders doubled down, insisting Politico had it wrong: “It sounds like it caught Speaker Ryan by surprise because I don’t think it was very accurate reporting and so it sounds like they’re both committed to and looking forward to spending a lot more time together over the next you know hopefully seven, eight years.”
Speaking to three dozen sources, Politico reported that Ryan’s “wild Washington journey” was “coming to an end.”
“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,” Politico said. “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.”
Politico went on to say that, “going home at the end of next year would allow Ryan, who turns 48 next month, to keep promises to family; his three children are in or entering their teenage years, and Ryan, whose father died at 55, wants desperately to live at home with them full-time before they begin flying the nest. The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020.”
Politico stood by its reporting Thursday.
“This deeply reported story by Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade is a must read for anyone who cares about Congress and politics,” Katie Pudwill, Politico’s Director of Communications wrote in an email. “It states, in part, that Speaker Ryan has confided in people close to him that this will be his final term as speaker. Rachael and Tim interviewed three dozen people who know the Speaker -lawmakers, congressional and Trump administration aides, and Republican lobbyists–and not a single person believed that Speaker Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018. I guess we’ve found one – Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”
Sanders was also asked about The Walt Disney Co.’s acquisition of Fox’s major content assets, confirming that President Trump spoke to 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch about the $52 billion transaction.
“I know that the president spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal and thinks that, to use one of the president’s favorite words, that this could be a great thing for jobs and certainly looks forward to and hoping to see a lot more of those created,” she said.
The deal will need approval from U.S. antitrust officials. The acquisition would make Disney the No. 1 studio owner with control over Fox’s FX cable channel and comes fresh off a legal battle over AT&T Inc.’s planned takeover of Time Warner Inc.
Related stories from TheWrap: