Trump Tweet Hyping 'Judge Jeanine' Show Wasn't Criticism of Paul Ryan, Aides Say

Image: Paul Ryan and Donald Trump
House Speaker Paul Ryan with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on March 16. Win McNamee / Getty Images

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By Daniella Silva and Kelly O'Donnell

Despite what it might have looked like, President Donald Trump wasn't throwing shade at House Speaker Paul Ryan in a conspicuous tweet promoting a Fox News show, representatives for both Trump and Ryan said Sunday.

On Saturday, the commander-in-chief urged his 27 million Twitter followers to "Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M."

The tweet seemed fairly innocuous — if a bit commercial — at first, but it took on deeper meaning when host Jeanine Pirro used the top of her show, "Justice With Judge Jeanine," to slam Ryan, R-Wisconsin, over his handling of the failed health care overhaul last week, going as far as calling on Ryan to step down.

"Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House," Pirro declared. "He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill."

Pirro also said Trump wasn't to blame for the bill's failure to come to a vote.

"This is not on President Trump," she said. "No one expected a businessman to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of Washington and its legislative process."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Sunday that the president's tweet wasn't an attempt to undermine Ryan.

"He wanted to show support of her show. That's it," Spicer said.

Image: Paul Ryan and Donald Trump
House Speaker Paul Ryan with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on March 16. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Even shortly after Trump's tweet was posted on Saturday, Spicer had said the president "likes the show."

Spicer also said the promo wasn't a suggestion that Trump himself would be doing an interview on the program.

Sunday morning, aides to Ryan called the "a fluke, not a conspiracy."

They said that "Speaker Ryan and the president are in a great place" and that they spoke by phone for an hour Saturday.

Pirro said she hadn't coordinated her comments with the president and had no contact with him.

Aides close to Ryan told NBC News later that Ryan and the president spoke again on Sunday.

"The president was clear his tweet had nothing to do with the speaker," the aides said. "They are both eager to get back to work on the agenda."

Earlier Sunday, Trump attacked conservative lawmakers on Twitter for the bill's failure.

"Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!" he tweeted.

Trump initially placed the blame on Democrats.

"Obamacare is exploding," he said in the Oval Office on Friday. "With no Democrat support, we couldn't quite get there. We were just a very small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed."

He thanked Republicans in the House, especially Ryan, saying "I think Paul really worked hard" to get the bill passed.