Paul Ryan Says He Won’t Defend Donald Trump

But he hasn't revoked his endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate, according to reports

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. — REUTERS
Oct 10, 2016 at 12:41 PM ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a Monday morning conference call that he won’t defend Donald Trump, although he hasn’t revoked his endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate, according to several reports.

“The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong has said.

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Ryan told Republican lawmakers they can do what they want when it comes to defending Trump. “You all need to do what’s best for you and your district,” he said on the morning call, an unnamed source told The Washington Post. Citing a “knowledgeable source” on the call, The Post also reported that Ryan said he won’t campaign alongside Trump, just weeks away from the general election.

Trump quickly responded to the comments, saying in a tweet mid-Monday that Ryan shouldn’t “waste his time” on fighting the Republican nominee. “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration,” he tweeted.

The discord between the highest-ranking GOP lawmaker and the Republican presidential nominee mounted just one day after the second presidential debate—and three days after audio from a leaked tape revealed Trump made sexually aggressive comments about groping women back in 2005 while speaking to former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.

Ryan said in a Friday statement he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments about women. “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” Ryan said. “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.”

Ryan endorsed Trump for president back in June, saying he was confident Trump could turn ideas into legislation.