The author of an upcoming book highlighting how Republicans have dealt with the rise of President Trump says that former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), an early critic of Trump’s who ultimately fell mostly in line with the president, saw his retirement from Congress as an “escape hatch,” according to excerpts obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release next week.
“I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” Ryan said, according to Tim Alberta’s book “American Carnage.”
“Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government … I wanted to scold him all the time.”
On one occasion, Alberta reports Trump finally gave in to signing a 2018 spending bill that didn’t include border wall funding only after Ryan agreed to give him time to build suspense on Twitter.
On another, Alberta reports that Ryan broke into “maniacal, punch-drunk laughter” after then-chief of staff Reince Priebus called him early one day to ask about a Trump tweet accusing the Obama administration of tapping his phone during the election.
“Paul, what the hell is going on? What the hell is he talking about?” Priebus reportedly asked the former Speaker.
Alberta reports that Ryan said those around Trump “helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time.”
“We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions,” the former congressman says.
Alberta writes that he didn’t think Ryan could stand another two years working with Trump in office, adding that Ryan saw retirement as his “escape hatch.”
A spokesperson for Ryan said those are the words of the author, not the former representative.
“He’s been very clear that he retired because he wanted to spend more time being a father and a husband,” the spokesperson said.