Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s comfortable with the self-assessment of his track record in the era of President Donald Trump, telling The New York Times Magazine that he avoided tragedies and advanced goals.
In a wide-ranging expose with NYT magazine, the retiring Wisconsin Republican said he’s “very comfortable” with the decisions he’s made trying to referee the intra-party squabbles that have marked Trump’s tenure to this point.
“I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy,” Ryan told the NYT. “I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal.”
Ryan wouldn’t give an example of said tragedy. But he chose to hash out differences with the president in private, rather than add to the din and public detritus that had the potential of a counter-reaction from Trump.
“It boomerangs,” Ryan told the Times of being too critical of Trump. “He goes in the other direction, so that’s not effective. The pissing match doesn’t work.”
The flip side is that Ryan infuriated some Republicans for not calling out Trump more often and letting some lawmakers go rogue in their scorched-earth defense of the president. Rep. Devin Nunes, for one.
“I’m very comfortable with the decisions I’ve made,” Ryan told the NYT. “I would make them again, do it again the same way. I think some people would like me to start a civil war in our party and achieve nothing.”
Ryan, also takes the stance that Trump didn’t create the hyper-vitriolic political landscape of tribalism and identify politics. It was already there, and Trump just rode the wave in 2016.
“Donald Trump didn’t give us all this,” Ryan told the NYT. “Donald Trump is showing us what it looks like.”
As for his personal relationship with Trump, Ryan – who Trump used to call “Boy Scout” – said it got better once the House started passing some key Trump initiatives.
“I thought (Boy Scout) was a compliment,” Ryan told the Times, until Trump announced he wouldn’t call Ryan that anymore.
“So I guess he meant it as an insult all along,” Ryan told the Times. “I didn’t realize.”
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