7 Negative Things Paul Ryan Has Said About Trump

by Chris Tognotti
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These days, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan really seems loathe to talk about President Donald Trump. It's not hard to see why, either. Ryan, a conservative technocrat, has been dreaming for a long time ― since drinking from kegs in college, by his own account ― of implementing drastic conservative reforms to government spending, taxes, and the social safety net, goals that Trump's persistent scandals threaten to put on the back burner. When it comes to openly challenging the sitting president, however, Ryan tends to be pretty shy. Yet, here are seven negative things Ryan has said about Trump, because nowadays you don't hear much tough talk from the speaker.

Make no mistake, Ryan's not the type to inspire a profile in courage when it comes to Trump. Like the vast majority of the American right, Ryan and the Republican establishment lined up behind Trump when his ascendance during the election became obvious, and he didn't fight too hard to try to keep him from taking over the reins.

Ryan did, at least occasionally, say vaguely critical things about him during the campaign, however, a level of candor that's really tapered off as Trump's young presidency marches on. Here are seven such remarks — little reminders that once upon a time, Ryan was still willing to say something, at the very least.

1. "I'm Just Not Ready"

To be perfectly candid with you Jake, I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.

In May of 2016, with the Republican National Convention fast approaching, Ryan made it clear that he wasn't yet prepared to back Trump as the nominee, demonstrating he was concerned about the GOP front-runner's long-term prospects.

2. "He Rejects This Idea"

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The speaker has made clear many times that he rejects this idea, and himself has talked about how Muslim Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

Although the remarks didn't come from Ryan directly ― the statement was released by his spokeswoman AshLee Strong ― he was clearly concerned with the fallout from Trump's hostile smearing of Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

3. "No Place In A Presidential Campaign"

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Anti-Semitic images — they've got no place in a presidential campaign. Candidates should know that. The tweet has been deleted and I don't know how long he put this up there. Obviously they've got to fix that.

As Time detailed, Ryan notably denounced the Trump campaign's tweeting of an anti-Semitic meme back in July of last year, stating that such images have no place in American politics.

4. "The Speaker Is Fully Confident"

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Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.

In another statement from Strong, rather than from Ryan himself ― teasing the increasingly calculated, highly hands-off tact he's taken throughout the early months of the Trump presidency ― the speaker nonetheless affirmed confidence in the integrity of the U.S. election system. Ryan challenged Trump's conspiratorial claims that the race would be stolen from him leading up to Election Day.

5. "I Am Sickened By What I Heard"

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I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.

Despite voicing the above condemnation after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Ryan never rescinded his endorsement of Trump, just one of many elected Republican officials who made moralistic condemnations then quickly fell in line.

6. "I Won't Defend Donald Trump"

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In October, with Trump's numbers sagging, the disgraceful Access Hollywood tape hitting the airwaves, and the GOP establishment fearful he'd bring down Republican congressional races, too ― this was before the final weeks, in which the polls tightened considerably ― it was reported that Ryan out-and-out disavowed Trump behind closed doors, although he never publicly withdrew his endorsement. The news fueled the ongoing tensions between Trump and Ryan, and it made Ryan look all the more foolish and toothless after Trump's victory.

7. And Here's The Audio

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There are basically two things that I want to make very clear, as for myself as your speaker. I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, not in the future, as you probably heard I dis-invited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend, I think I do one every year, and I'm not going to be campaigning with him in the next 30 days. Look, you guys know I have serious concerns about our nominee. I hope you appreciate that I'm doing what I think is best for you, the members, not what is best for me.

The audio of Ryan's October comments was ultimately leaked and published by Breitbart, as part of an apparent effort to undermine the speaker among the Republican base and elevate Trump.

All in all, it's a pretty modest list of criticisms when you consider just how aggressively inflammatory and demagogic the Trump campaign was, and how much wrongdoing he was accused of ― although he forcefully denies all the allegations, the fact remains that he was accused of sexually predatory behavior by more than a dozen women. And nowadays, well, even that mildly proactive version of Ryan seems to have faded into the background, replaced by a party leader driven only by achieving his policy goals, no matter how Trump might get in the way.