This post was written by Connor Balough
Reince Priebus is angry, very angry. In a testy interview today, the RNC chairman issued a stern warning to Paul Ryan and other #neverTrump leaders.
I think Donald Trump gets it completely about being presidential and gracious and I can tell you that’s how he acts toward me in private,” Priebus told ABC’s Rick Klein, following his meeting with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I think he understands that getting to that place is important,” Priebus added. “But you know Donald Trump also has to be Donald Trump, I mean that’s what got him there.”
The RNC chairman said it’s important for Trump to focus his “energy” on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“Bringing this party together is something we’re all working towards and today was an important step in that direction,” Priebus said.
After today’s 45-minute private meeting with Trump and Ryan, which he also attended, Priebus described the mood as “cooperative.”
“There was a good spirit in the room,” he said.
Priebus dodged a question on whether Trump should release his tax returns. Trump said yesterday he would release them once an ongoing audit is completed.
“I don’t know the rules on audits and I’m not going to get into that,” he said. “Every candidate can make their own decision.”
Priebus also would not say whether Trump needs to nix his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which Priebus spoke out against last year. In an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Wednesday, Trump softened slightly on his plan, saying that the ban was, “just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.”
“Look you know what my position is on it, but that’s his decision,” Priebus said. “Obviously I’ve been clear on that and it’s something that he’s got to work through.”
Outside the Republican National Committee headquarters Thursday morning, protesters held signs and played bagpipes, while camera crews trained their lenses on idling black cars waiting to shuttle the party’s future nominee to and from a meeting with the Speaker of the House and other party higher-ups. For the past week, reporters — myself included — had chased every GOP lawmaker they saw, no matter how inconsequential, down hallways with their recording devices, asking for comments about the intra-party summit. On MSNBC, there was a countdown clock ahead of the meeting, and Morning Joe used a bumper clip from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in which frenzied spectators chant “Two men enter, one man leaves!” By this morning, the mood on Capitol Hill was something like what one would expect in the audience ahead of a WWE Smackdown main event.