House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump

House Republicans are pushing back on former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan moving family to Washington Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway MORE’s (R-Wis.) criticisms of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE, with some arguing the Wisconsin Republican didn’t yield as much power over the president’s decisionmaking as the ex-lawmaker suggested in a new book.

According to an excerpt of “American Carnage” by Politico reporter Tim Alberta, Ryan argued that the president is worse off since he and other officials left their top posts in Washington.

“We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was,” Ryan said. “Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”

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Several congressional Republicans who worked with Ryan in the House took issue Friday with his characterization. 

“I think it's a little bit of revisionist history,” one Republican member told The Hill.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsBen Shapiro: No prominent GOP figure ever questioned Obama's legitimacy Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Gun store billboard going after the 'Squad' being removed following backlash MORE (R-N.C.), whose group was often at odds with Ryan, said that while Ryan may have attempted to tamp down policies he didn’t agree with, the president’s instincts on policy resonated more with GOP voters.

“Paul Ryan’s advice typically served to push the president in a direction that would make the swamp happy but most of the people who voted for Donald Trump unhappy,” Meadows said. “The Speaker missed the real reason why the president consistently enjoyed higher approval ratings than anyone in Republican leadership.”

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to Trump MORE (I-Mich.) — one of Trump’s biggest critics in the House and who recently left the Republican Party — blasted the notion that Ryan stood up to the president during his time as Speaker.

“He was one of Donald Trump's biggest enablers,” Amash said, adding he thinks “it’s ridiculous” that Ryan waited until leaving office to level criticisms at the president.

Other Republicans said they felt top lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi, Schumer press for gun screenings as Trump inches away The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking First House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons MORE (R-Ky.) and Trump allies within House GOP leadership like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseManchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Sunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Sanders: Trump doesn't 'want to see somebody get shot' but 'creates the climate for it' MORE (R-La.) had the president’s ear on key issues more so than Ryan.

“McCarthy and McConnell had significant impact — it wasn’t just the Ryan show,” another GOP member said.

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The working relationship between the two leaders got off to a rocky start, with Ryan expressing reservations about Trump during the 2016 campaign before eventually endorsing him. And while they managed to come together to achieve significant successes, namely the 2017 GOP tax law, divisions over policy between the two Republican leaders and personality clashes were at times very public, with Trump blasting Ryan on social media.

The president slammed Ryan for coming out against his plan to nullify birthright citizenship, dismissed his push to embrace free trade and opted not to support a stop-gap spending bill, leading to Ryan ending his congressional career during what became the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“I’d remind people that Paul Ryan was never a Trump supporter and he bailed out on our conference,” one Trump ally told The Hill. “He is no longer relevant.”

Other members dismissed Ryan’s assertion in the book that Trump “didn’t know anything about government.” 

Scalise — who highlighted the accomplishments Ryan and Trump achieved despite “not seeing eye to eye” on certain issues — defended the president’s understanding of government by citing Trump’s remarks on different policy areas during a trip to Camp David and their discussions while working on the 2017 GOP tax law.

“I wouldn't agree with that assessment if that's what Paul said, because I was in meetings with Paul, and the president, on a number of issues and the president is well versed on domestic policy,” he told reporters.

Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedRepublicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Democratic plan for smaller paychecks House passes bill to update tax code to help same-sex married couples MORE (R-N.Y.) said while Trump’s approach to governing may be unconventional, he doesn’t see his decision to break the status quo as a negative.

“I think, you know, the power of President Trump is he's a disrupter,” Reed said. “The status quo of D.C. has to change and the president was changing it. And I'm a big fan of a disrupter in this town, because this town, if you think it's working, then you're in the wrong business.”

Even though Ryan kept much of his criticisms of Trump to a minimum while in office, multiple lawmakers said they were not surprised by his decision to go public now.

“I think it's been a long time coming. I don't think anybody on this floor is surprised that the two of them have a moment,” one GOP member said. “Much of that was contained when he was Speaker, but now that he's not he says what he feels.”

Trump was quick to attack Ryan following the release of the experts, accusing Ryan of being a “the failed V.P. candidate & former Speaker of the House, whose record of achievement was atrocious” and casting blame on him for the loss of the House on Twitter.

But some jumped to Ryan’s defense, including his 2012 running mate.

“The fault for our 2012 loss is mine alone; @SpeakerRyan was a tireless campaigner, fundraiser, and conservative champion. As the sole person who could unite the House, he acquiesced to be Speaker as a service to the country,” Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE (R-Utah) tweeted.

“His selfless leadership and lifelong policy work were critical to the tax and regulatory reform that have helped propel the economy. A man like Paul Ryan does not often come along,” he continued.

Veteran Republican strategist Doug Heye said that while some lawmakers have criticized Ryan for not saying more while in office, they may not be taking into account the level of pressure and difficulty of the circumstances he faced.

“Paul Ryan was under enormous pressure again, you know, to kind of keep the House as a functioning, working organization. And it's why, you know, I had tremendous empathy for him. And sometimes I was disappointed, sure, but I always had sympathy for that for the job that he was trying to do,” Heye said.

“You know, any member who's critical of Ryan on this — and there may be valid criticisms — but if they're saying it on the record, that also tells me, you know, that they want to be seen as kind of reassuring this White House: I'm with you every step of the way,” he said.