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The new reality on Trump and the Freedom Caucus

Evan Vucci / AP

House leadership has been hoping that President Trump would turn the screws on the Freedom Caucus. They'd love nothing more than for Trump to threaten Freedom Caucus members like Mark Meadows with primary challenges. In fact, they were banking on Trump doing that. They thought he could break the Freedom Caucus.

The emerging reality: Trump is doing nothing of the sort. He was joking when he told Meadows in the GOP conference meeting earlier this week that he'd come after him. And in today's White House meeting Trump did not brow-beat the Freedom Caucus members or make a hard sell on a "final offer."

According to three sources in the room for the meeting, Trump didn't demand loyalty tests, and there was lots of laughing, jokes, and stories.

"He is not being heavy handed," said a White House official. "[The House Freedom Caucus] made clear all week they appreciate respect and engagement from the White House but are upset that they feel leadership excludes them."
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