In a conference call Monday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly told Republican members of the lower chamber that he will no longer defend Donald Trump or campaign with him before Election Day, and he urged them to focus their efforts on their own re-elections.
According to Politico, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy echoed Ryan, who disinvited Trump from a unity rally in Wisconsin over the weekend after the GOP nominee came under fire for sexually explicit comments he made in 2005 that were released Friday. After the comments were published, many of Ryan’s GOP colleagues in both the House and the Senate revoked their endorsements of Trump, but there is not indication yet that Ryan plans on following suit.
“You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” Ryan reportedly said on the call, essentially giving them the green light to abandon Trump if they believe he is hurting them.
According to The New York Times, Ryan returned to the call to “clarify to angry members” that he was not revoking his endorsement of Trump.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton responded almost immediately to the news on Twitter, noting: “Ryan is still endorsing Trump.”
Trump has since responded to the Republican majority leader’s statment with a tweet. Monday afternoon the GOP nominee wrote, “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.”