New audio emerged late Tuesday night that seemingly captured House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing not to defend Donald Trump during a conference call with House Republicans in October.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump… not now, not in the future,” Ryan reportedly says in the recording.
Ryan’s reported remarks on the call came shortly after Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood controversy. The now-president was caught making crude comments about women in 2005 audio.
The audio of the conference call was obtained and published by Breitbart News, a right-wing website that has been openly critical of Ryan and other establishment Republicans.AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan
Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle concluded that the audio proved Ryan was “abandoning” Trump completely weeks before the 2016 election:
The October conference call apparently was intended only for House Republican members. It’s unclear which or how many House Republicans took part in the call, whether the participants knew it was being recorded, who made the recording, or whether a recording exists of the entire call. The remarks on the portion provided to Breitbart News certainly sound like they were coming from Speaker Ryan, who seemed to be abandoning his party’s presidential nominee altogether just weeks before the election. He says not only will he not defend the Access Hollywood comments, but he will not campaign with Trump at all between this call on Oct. 10, 2016, and the general election for the presidency on Nov. 8—and that Ryan would not defend Trump on anything generally.
However, Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck told Breitbart that the Speaker’s comment about defending Trump was “of course” only about the Access Hollywood tapes.
“The world is well aware of this history,” Buck said.
The spokesman added:
“This was in response to that, but as everyone knows, they came together toward the end of the campaign and the speaker vocally supported him and even campaigned with Pence.”
It should also be noted that aspects of the conference call were previously reported.
— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) March 14, 2017
Some in the media even suggested the leaked audio was a coordinated attempt between Breitbart and Trump adviser Stephen Bannon to discredit Paul Ryan:
Okay, this settles it. This whole thing is a Bannon operation to immolate Paul Ryan. https://t.co/QK2LEP0Mkg
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) March 14, 2017
The Breitbart "scoop" on Paul Ryan seems more like the well-timed release of opposition research. Mostly because Breitbart isn't journalism.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 14, 2017
This day started with spying microwaves and is about to end with WH/Bannon sabotaging Paul Ryan. Goodnight!
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) March 14, 2017
Regardless, Breitbart seems to have its sights set on Ryan — and it looks like it could get ugly.
Ryan also faces an uphill as he tries to sell the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare to Americans — and some in his own party. The CBO reported on Monday that 14 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2018 under the GOP bill.