Paul Ryan told other Republicans that they “should feel free to abandon Trump” in the wake of the bombshell Access Hollywood tape’s release in the final days before the 2016 presidential election, a new tell-all book claims.
The Speaker of the House at the time, Ryan carried considerable sway across the party and gave other Republicans cover to speak out against Trump after the release of the tape in which he appeared to brag about sexually assaulting women. As the Huffington Post noted, the new book claimed that Ryan held a rare conference call with House Republicans after the tape was released and gave them permission to jump ship if they so chose.
The book by Politico reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, called A Hill to Die On, offered new insight into the frantic final days before the 2016 election and the tape that almost cost Trump the election. It also painted Ryan as indifferent to Trump’s chances of winning.
A number of Republicans did end up speaking out against Trump at the time, while others called on him to apologize and offer an explanation for the words on the tape.
Paul Ryan himself spoke out against Trump, saying there was no way to defend the statements heard on the tape.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump,” he said. “Not now, not in the future.”
The tape’s release appeared to sink Trump’s chances of pulling off an upset against Hillary Clinton and led to a drop in the polls, but Trump was able to recover after the FBI’s announcement that new evidence had led it to re-open the case into Clinton’s private email server. Though the FBI would sort through the evidence and announce that there was nothing new and no reason to charge Clinton, the damage was done and her polling dropped enough for Trump to pull off the shocking victory.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 7, 2019
As Raw Story reported, the book went on to explain that Ryan was shocked on election night when it became clear that Donald Trump would win.
“Oh my God … This guy might’ve done it,” the book quoted Ryan as saying, telling Trump, “This is unbelievable … it looks like you’re going to win.”
Ryan was a frequent target for criticism from Donald Trump, who at times attacked the House Speaker as part of the Republican establishment that he vowed to break up during his 2016 run. Ryan also became a popular opponent for Trump in not ushering through the president’s agenda.