Trump applauds congressional allies as he kicks off inaugural festivities

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE showered praise on his congressional allies during a celebratory lunch at his Washington hotel one day before his inauguration.

Trump arrived at the hotel shortly before 1 p.m., after a military plane touched down at Andrews Air Force Base to deliver the president-elect to the nation's capital before Inauguration Day.

Once there, he took the stage and lauded a handful of congressional leaders, particularly House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment House Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea MORE (R-Wis.), with whom he had a rocky relationship during the election.

"I don't know if Paul is here, he's out writing legislation because he's got so much legislation to write. He's never had this," Trump said.

"And now he actually has someone who is going to sign it."


Trump said he's "starting to really, really love Paul," adding, "We're doing really well together."

And he offered justification for a recent public disagreement the two appeared to have over the House Republicans' border-adjustment tax plan.

Soon after terms of the GOP plan leaked, The Wall Street Journal published a story headlined, "Donald Trump warns on House Republican tax plan," casting a cloud over the fate of the tax plan.

Trump said Thursday that the interview was conducted a few days before he and Ryan touched base and agreed over the phone not to publicly air the details of the tax negotiations until they were all on the same page.

Ryan and Trump were not always in agreement during the campaign — the House speaker did not immediately endorse Trump after he clinched the nomination and backed away further after a decade-old tape emerged that featured Trump discussing groping women.

But Ryan, who chaired the president-elect’s Republican National Convention, where he called for unity, never officially pulled his endorsement and has since forged a better relationship with Trump and key members of his staff, such as Stephen Bannon.

During the luncheon, Trump also singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump McConnell says he'll be in 'total coordination' with White House on impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Senate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst on trade deal MORE (R-Texas), National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Colo.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.).

Trump also took a moment to compliment his Cabinet nominees, saying, "We have by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled." 

After the lunch, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceMark Levin calls Trump 'first Jewish president' Pence: It's not a 'foregone conclusion' that lawmakers impeach Trump Pence's office questions Schiff's request to declassify more material from official's testimony: report MORE will attend a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery, and the president-elect will make an appearance at a concert at the Lincoln Memorial before finishing the evening at a dinner.