In newly surfaced audio from a private October conference call, House Speaker Paul Ryan can be heard telling his members in the U.S. House Republicans that he would never defend the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future,”Ryan says in the recording that was obtained by Breitbart.
In the leaked audio, Ryan called Trump’s Access Hollywood comments indefensible and said they do not fit with the Republican Party’s “principles and values.” He called on House members to abandon the GOP nominee and stand with him and vowed to never defend Trump again.
“His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party’s principles and values,” Ryan said. “There are basically two things that I want to make really 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 disinvited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend—a thing I do every year. And I’m not going to be campaigning with him over the next 30 days.”
“Look, you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee,” Ryan continued. “I hope you appreciate that I’m doing what I think is best for you, the members, not what’s best for me. So, I want to do what’s best for our members, and I think this is the right thing to do. I’m going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans. I talked to a bunch of you over the last 72 hours and here is basically my takeaway. To everyone on this call, this is going to be a turbulent month. Many of you on this call are facing tough reelections. Some of you are not. But with respect to Donald Trump, I would encourage you to do what you think is best and do what you feel you need to do. Personally, you need to decide what’s best for you. And you all know what’s best for you where you are.”
A number of members joined Ryan in abandoning Trump.
Ryan emphasizes later in the recording that does not want Hillary Clinton to win the White House despite his abandonment of Trump and will take steps to secure Republicans win seats in the House and the Senate .
“But the last thing I want to do is to help Hillary Clinton get the presidency, and get Congress,” Ryan said. “Look, she’s a failed progressive. She’s running an abysmal campaign. I mean, it’s just—it’s amazing how easily she could be beaten. She will take this country in the wrong direction. And the last thing we need is four more years of Obama policies or two years of a Clinton presidency with a Democrat Congress. Could you imagine what that would look like? So the last thing we want to be doing is giving Hillary Clinton a blank check in Congress.”
“That’s why I’m going to spend the rest of this month fighting for Congress, fighting for our majorities,” Ryan continued. “I’m going to spend the next 28 days working hard with all of our members to get re-elected because we need a check on Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump and Mike Pence don’t win the presidency. Greg Walden will get more into what that looks like and what polling looks like, but I want to basically close with this: His comments are indefensible, they’re not in keeping with our principles, so I’m not going to try to defend him. I’m going to focus on Congress, I’m going to focus on upholding our values. We have a great, great policy agenda—A Better Way—that we need to take to voters and show what our party actually stands for and what it’s stood for for generations.”
As negotiations surrounding Obamacare repeal legislation has become a focal point, Ryan’s decision to abandon Trump on the campaign trail raises questions as to how loyal the House Speaker is to Trump politically.
Ryan is under fire from the House Freedom Caucus, 40 House conservatives who remains steadfastly opposed to Ryan for pushing the American Health Care Act.
Sen. Rand Paul asserts that Ryan is deliberately misguiding Trump into believing that the ObamaCare repeal bill can pass Congress, when it is in actual fact, dead on arrival in light of a significant number of Senators coming out against it.
Paul also contends that Ryan has misled President Trump into believing his healthcare legislation would repeal and replace Obamacare when it does not repeal Obamacare.
If the American Health Care Act is in fact destined for congressional failure, it could jeopardize the success of other key elements of the Trump agenda, like tax reform, immigration reform, national security efforts, budgetary reforms, building up of the U.S. military, trade renegotiation and more.