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Speaker Mike Johnson echoes Trump's 'frustration' with trials and believes threats to his gavel are behind him

WASHINGTON — On the car ride from Trump Tower to the Manhattan courthouse Tuesday, former President Donald Trump was venting to Speaker Mike Johnson about the first 16 days of his hushmoney trial and how it’s kept him off the campaign trail.

“He’s clearly frustrated that he’s been tied up now for the fifth week in this trial that has no merit, that prosecutors had already passed on eight years ago, that they can’t define any crime that he has supposedly committed and the entire case is based upon a known perjurer, Michael Cohen. So it’s an atrocity,” Johnson, R-La., said Wednesday in an exclusive interview in his Capitol office with NBC News.

“On the ride over, we talked about that. How it has tied up in court now, for five weeks, the soon-to-be official nominee of our party in what many of us regard to be the most critical election year of our lifetime,” Johnson continued. “And it is just wrong in every way.”

As the motorcade pulled into the courthouse, Johnson said Trump specifically noted that a large area around the courthouse has been cordoned off by law enforcement — something Johnson believes is politically designed to keep Trump’s supporters far from their leader.

“No one can get in except law enforcement. Why would they make such a large perimeter? Yes, he’s the former president, but he has a full security detail as he goes about the country,” the speaker said. “The reason they did that, I believe, is part of the political purposes of this. They don’t want supportive crowds to be seen in favor of President Trump. I think it’s part of the strategy and I just think it’s a travesty of justice.”

In the wide-ranging interview in his office, with a sweeping view of the National Mall, Johnson declined to recommend

Read more on nbcnews.com