House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared Wednesday afternoon on CNN to discuss his premature retirement from Congress. But first, The Lead anchor Jake Tapper just had to ask him for his take on the latest cloud of scandal surrounding President Donald Trump.
“This must bother you,” Tapper told Ryan. “Access Hollywood, Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, at a certain point it must be embarrassing.”
As he has done before, Ryan claimed not to have even read the recent New York Times report regarding the FBI raid of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, though, he added, he’s “obviously familiar” with the situation.
“We’re pretty focused on getting our work done here and so this is something that I’ll let you guys speculate about. Right now, I’m busy trying to get things done in Congress. We have a big agenda and that is where my focus is and I don’t have much punditry to offer you on this.”
Ryan did, however, have some advice for Trump. “I just think the way president ought to handle this is compartmentalize it and focus on doing your job,” he said.
As for why the 48-year-old one-time Republican vice-presidential nominee and current No. 2 in the line of succession should Trump end up leaving office early suddenly decided on an early retirement, Ryan pushed back on the notion that it had anything to do with the increasing likelihood that the GOP will lose its control of the House in November.
“Actually, I really don’t believe that, that’s not true,” Ryan said. “Because we have an excellent track record to run on.” He added that one of the reasons he was “comfortable” stepping aside is that he’s “confident we could keep the majority” in the House.
Two years ago, Ryan called Trump’s comments about a Mexican-American judge the “textbook definition of racism.” But even on his way out of Congress, he had nothing negative to say about the president who helped him achieve his dream of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“We’re very different people,” Ryan said of himself and Trump. “We had a lot of friction in our relationship, but what we learned is that we have a common agenda to agree on and we want to get it done and it will make a difference in people’s lives and that is what we were elected to do.”
Tapper ended the interview by asking Ryan about his political future. The speaker said he had no plans to run for president or any other higher office, but added a caveat: “Not while my kids are growing up.” He insisted, “Right now, the last thing I’m thinking about is running for something.”
“I believe that, but we’ll see,” Tapper responded, reminding Ryan that his children are teenagers and will be “out of the house soon enough”