Freedom Caucus chairman says he's not plotting against Ryan

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Friday denied reports that he has been in talks with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon about a potential replacement for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE  (R-Wis.).

“I can tell you there’s no plan, there’s nothing there, and if I was working on a plan to depose the Speaker you wouldn’t be reading about it in the press,” Meadows said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Meadows has been discussing possible replacements for Ryan with Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News who left his post in the White House last month.


"I can tell you I’ve had conversations with Steve Bannon, [former White Hosue chief of staff] Reince Priebus, both within the last 48 hours or so, and I can tell you that we're laser focused not on a leadership change, but that we change Washington, D.C.," Meadows said.

But Meadows also dodged questions on whether he thinks Ryan is an effective leader and said that GOP lawmakers must focus on passing President Trump’s agenda.

“As an effective Speaker, the only thing you can judge that on is the results,” Meadows said. “We got about two or three months to make real decisions. I believe the Speaker is up to the task.”

The Post reported that Meadows and a group of influential conservative leaders had even discussed the possibility of recruiting former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) or former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as potential replacements for Ryan, noting that the Constitution does not actually require the Speaker be an elected official.

Meadows's comments come just days after Trump cut a deal with Democratic leaders for a short-term debt ceiling increase that was widely opposed by conservatives. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing MORE (R-Ky.) made clear after the president’s deal was announced that it wasn’t their doing, but they would support it nonetheless.