House Speaker Paul Ryan has issued a statement slamming President Donald Trump’s refusal to admit that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election during his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said in a statement. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
That’s the most powerful Republican in the House condemning a president of his own party.
It’s also a reversal for Ryan. After reporters asked for his opinion about Trump sending last week’s NATO summit into chaos, Ryan responded, “We should not be criticizing our president while he’s overseas.”
But it seems Trump’s shocking performance in Helsinki was beyond the pale for Ryan.
During the 50-minute press conference, Trump sided with Putin instead of America’s intelligence agents about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election; failed to mention Russian transgressions like its invasion of Ukraine or its attempted assassination via toxic nerve agent of a former spy on British soil; and called Putin’s proposal to send Russians to help Mueller investigate Russian meddling an “incredible offer.”
Of course, Ryan is leaving Congress at the end of his term, so he has more political freedom to lambaste Trump. He joins other Republicans on their way out of Washington, like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who have had no problem going against the president.
Still, the person who is third in line to become president publicly rebuked the commander in chief — while Trump is overseas, no less. If there was ever an indicator to show just how badly Trump messed up in Helsinki on Monday, this is it.
You can read Ryan’s full statement below:
There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.
There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.