House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will no longer defend Donald Trump and will focus on keeping GOP control of Congress.
Ryan will stop campaigning with the Republican nominee and explained his decision on a phone call with GOP leaders on Monday morning, according to the Washington Post.
“The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told the paper.
The Post reported that Ryan told GOP leaders they are freed from having to defend Trump if they feel he will hurt their chances of reelection.
The Associated Press described Ryan’s decision as “all but conceding Hillary Clinton will be the next president.”
Ryan held a conference call on Monday morning with Republicans who are nervous that Trump is hurting their chances of winning re-election and threatening their majority control of the House.
Ryan did not totally back off support for Trump, but he will focus on the congressional majority instead. The Wisconsin Republican told GOP candidates to “do what’s best for you in your district,” according to the AP.
CNN immediately broke into coverage with breaking news of Ryan’s decision, saying that numerous GOP leaders on the call disagreed with the decision. Trump supporters on the call apparently feel Ryan’s decision will backfire, handing Hillary Clinton the presidency and in turn giving Democrat-appointed justices control of the Supreme Court.
Ryan and Trump have an odd relationship, as the House Speaker was reluctant to endorse Trump when he first reached the required number of delegates to become the presumptive GOP nominee. The two eventually met, and Ryan decided to endorse Trump, but not right away. Trump returned the favor when he waited to endorse Ryan during Wisconsin’s primary.
Back in August, Ryan defended Trump, saying, “it sounds like” GOP nominee Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about “Second Amendment people” stopping Hillary Clinton was simply a “joke gone bad.”
At the time, Ryan went on to say that the Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket would “put good judges at the Supreme Court” and help the GOP agenda.