The rancorous Republican divisions that scarred the 2016 presidential campaign returned to the public eye Monday as a tape surfaced of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., telling House members he was done with then presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The comments were recorded on a conference call that took place shortly after an Access Hollywood tape was released showing Trump making crass comments about women. Breitbart released the contents of the tape Monday.
Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck told Breitbart via email that, “The world is well aware of this history. … And obviously a lot has happened since then. As everyone knows.”
Buck noted that Ryan’s comments were “specifically about the Access Hollywood tapes. This was in response to that, but as everyone knows, they came together toward the end of the campaign and the speaker vocally supported him and even campaigned with Pence.”
During the Oct. 10, 2016 call, as reported by Breitbart, Ryan explained his stance on Trump
“His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party’s principles and values. 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 I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future,” Ryan said, noting that he had withdrawn an invitation to campaign with Trump.
“Look, you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee,” Ryan said, adding that he believed his course was the right thing for the House GOP, not just himself.
“I’m going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans,” he said, later adding, “To everyone on this call, this is going to be a turbulent month.”
Ryan said House Republicans were free to do what they pleased in regards to Trump.
“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,” he said.
During the call, Ryan also affirmed his opposition to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“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.”
Democrats could not be allowed to control Congress, Ryan said.
“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.”
Ryan then closed with one further comment about Trump.
“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,” he said.