June 14, 2024

Paul Ryan Bashes Trump and ‘Trump Populism,’ Says It’s Now the ‘Establishment’

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan unveils his portrait Wednesday, May 17, 2023, on Capitol Hi
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan in an interview Wednesday with the Washington Post bashed former President Donald Trump and “Trump populism,” lamenting that it was now the “establishment.”

He said:

I am in the minority my party right now. I’m not in the establishment. I’m frankly an anti-establishment Republican. And you, I think you can safely argue — I don’t enjoy acknowledging this — that Trump is the establishment and Trump populism is the establishment and that Trump populism is this more isolationist strain that I think is wrong and dangerous and I don’t support, but that does represent a large swath of Republican voters.

Ryan also bashed show host Tucker Carlson’s speaking favorably about the safety and cleanliness in Moscow on a recent visit there to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it an “informercial for Putin.”

“That was astounding to me. You know, that one takes the cake, frankly,” Ryan said about Carlson’s comments, claiming it would build sympathy in America and make it more isolationist, which he called “very, very dangerous.”

Ryan said:

What worries me more, not just Tucker, that’s a symptom of all this, is that they’re curating sympathy in America. And they’re, they’re helping nurture and develop an isolationist wing, in my party and in our country, which I think is very, very dangerous.

They’re developing, you know, people who want to see NATO reduced or NATO not adhered to, obviously, former President Trump is pushing this line as well. So what I very much worry about is they’re helping curate a line of thought — a school of thought that is isolationist, that is pro-Putin, pro-Russia, pro-tyranny at the end of the day, and that is extremely dangerous for all democracy, but for us as ourselves democracy.

“And so what I see … is this one little chapter in that story,” Ryan continued. “I didn’t watch that whole interview. I watched a little bit of it, but it just looked like a kind of an infomercial for Putin to be able to push his propaganda.”

He praised former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) for running against Trump, calling it “healthy” for the party.

“I do think she’s bringing up a healthy dialogue, raising the important questions. So I think it’s healthy for our party that she stays in the race,” he said.

He also asserted that Trump is beating Biden in the polls not because he is a strong candidate, but because Biden is a weak candidate.

But he also acknowledged at the same time that Trump has easily dispensed with other Republican primary candidates.

He argued that the indictments against him made him more popular by framing him as a victim.

“These indictments made him a victim. It gave him a very credible victim narrative [and] grafted MAGA onto him. People want to see a fighter,” he said.

Ryan would not rule out a return to politics, saying that although he enjoys his life right now, he is “deeply worried about the country.”

“I’m young enough to have a third career. I’m in my second career right now. Who knows? I don’t know. But it’s not really top of mind right now, frankly,” he said.

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