A new tell-all book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the often rocky relationship between President Donald Trump and former House Speaker Paul Ryan who reportedly told the GOP they could “abandon” the then-nominee just a month before the 2016 election.
The book, “A Hill to Die On” by Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, covers the happenings in Congress from the 2016 election and under the Trump presidency, and features a look at the tensions between the president and Ryan as revealed in excerpts reported by Axios.
Ryan held “a rare conference call with all House Republicans” on Oct. 10, 2016, three days after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape and just weeks before the election, according to the book. The tape revealed audio of Trump making vulgar comments about women in 2005 in a conversation with television host Billy Bush on their way to film an episode of “Access Hollywood.”
The book contends that on the conference call, Ryan essentially said: “Republicans should feel free to abandon Trump.”
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump,” Ryan reportedly said. “Not now, not in the future.”
“He couldn’t shake the fact that Trump was so vulgar. People just don’t talk like that where I’m from, he thought,” Sherman and Palmer reported in the book.
At the time, Ryan’s office issued a statement saying he hoped the then-presidential nominee “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.” Trump later described his comments as “locker room talk.”
The book also revealed that Ryan was quite surprised by the results coming in as the election night unfolded.
“This is unbelievable,” Ryan allegedly told Trump. “It looks like you’re going to win.”
The two men had an often contentious relationship during Trump’s first two years in office, before Ryan retired in January. Sherman and Palmer noted in the book that an explosive conversation occurred when the president spoke to “Axios on HBO” about changing birthright citizenship.
After Ryan criticized the idea, Trump rebuked the speaker about sharing his unwanted opinions in a tweet.
Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
But the two then “had a heated phone conversation. Why are you popping me? Ryan asked the president. Because you just did it to me! Trump responded,” according to the book excerpts from Axios.
Tensions regularly flared between Trump and Ryan and, according to the book, one time “the president blew up at Ryan, angry he had not gotten enough money for his border wall. He asked the Speaker if he could move money from military spending on things like fighter jets to be spent on a wall. ‘You can’t do that,’ Ryan told him.”
Sherman and Palmer suggest that Ryan was “just tired” of the president when he decided not to run for re-lection.
“You couldn’t help but get the sense … that Ryan was just tired of Donald Trump,” they wrote. “Couldn’t-take-it-anymore tired.”
But last month, Ryan predicted that Trump will win reelection in 2020 because of his ideas and “record of accomplishment.”
To be clear, GOP wins elections when they’re about ideas not when they’re personality contests like Dems & media want. We’re clearly better off because of @RealDonaldTrump. His record of accomplishment is why he’ll win re-election especially when compared to Dems’ leftward lurch.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 13, 2019
The comment came as a sort of clarification after remarks he had made saying, “If this is about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it.”
The president’s son slammed Ryan as “the speaker who lied to us” in response.
Pretty rich. Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 running mate, the speaker who lied to us and didn’t deliver Wall funding (and then lost the house) gives advice on winning.
Paul Ryan: Trump Will Lose in 2020 if Campaign About His ‘Personality’ https://t.co/DbOkrV8rE4
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 12, 2019
The authors of “A Hill to Die On” had apparently asked Trump about Ryan’s lack of loyalty, something the president had reportedly called him on, according to a book written by former White House communications staffer, Cliff Sims.
“Because it’s life and we sort of need each other a little bit,” Trump had replied.
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