Paul Ryan Won’t Defend Donald Trump—But Is Still Endorsing Him

“You all need to do what’s best for you and your district.”

Yuri Gripas/ZUMA


Over the weekend dozens of Republicans condemned and abandoned Donald Trump, but Paul Ryan still seems to be hedging his bets. The House Speaker convened a conference call with Republicans in his caucus Monday morning to discuss the state of the GOP amidst the turmoil caused by leaked audio of Donald Trump describing how his celebrity status allows him to get away with sexually assaulting women. Per news reports, Ryan is now trying to distance himself from his party’s presidential nominee but is still standing by his plan to vote for Trump.

According to CNN, Ryan gave his blessing to House Republicans to either ditch Trump or to stay behind the GOP candidate, saying “you all need to do what’s best for you and your district.” It sounds as if Ryan has essentially given up hope that Republicans can defeat Hillary Clinton and win back the White House.

Ryan has expressed general discomfort with Trump throughout the campaign. After Trump went off against an Indiana judge, saying the judge’s Mexican heritage made him unfit to oversee a case against Trump University, Ryan called Trump’s statement the “textbook definition of a racist comment.” Yet Trump was Ryan’s racist, and the House Speaker campaigned for the GOP nominee. At the Republican National Convention this summer, Ryan said, “Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance of a better way.” Even though he disinvited Trump to campaign with him in Wisconsin this weekend, saying he was “sickened” by the leaked video, Ryan is still planning to vote for the candidate he says he won’t  campaign for or defend.

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  • Patrick Caldwell

    Patrick Caldwell is the associate editor in Mother Jones’ DC bureau. E-mail any and all tips to pcaldwell [at] motherjones [dot] com.