Speaker of the House Paul Ryan early-voted for the presidential candidate who threatened to oppose his speakership.
That’s right, Ryan voted for Donald Trump.
Earlier this month Trump was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly, and after O’Reilly suggested that Trump would need Ryan’s support in Congress if elected president, Trump answered with the following threat:
“I would think that maybe Ryan wouldn’t be there, maybe he’ll be in a different position.”
Ryan has been ambiguous about his support for Trump in the past, which has very obviously hurt Trump’s fragile ego. Trump’s response was that he doesn’t care about having Ryan’s vocal support. Trump tweeted, “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”
All Ryan tried to do was encourage Trump to hide his terrible personality, and to not say things that were “textbook” examples of racism.
But let’s not forget that Trump’s most obsessive motivation in life is vengeance. Paul Ryan may have voted for Trump, but Ryan has still refused to join the Trumpian cult that worships Trump’s presidential candidacy with messianic loyalty.
While the president doesn’t directly appoint the Speaker of the House, Trump could (and would likely) lead a revolt of House Republicans to oppose Ryan’s intra-House candidacy for the Speakership.
The ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus already threatened to oppose Ryan’s Speakership following the retirement of former-Speaker John Boehner, and certainly they would oppose Ryan with a nudge from Trump. The House Freedom Caucus has enough members to block Ryan from obtaining a Republican House majority.
Such an occurrence would be partisan suicide for Ryan, who would then have to rely on votes from Democrats in order to stay on as Speaker. This would likely require some kind of a compromise to benefit Democrats. House Republicans would then revolt against a Speaker Ryan who was elected with Democratic support, and it would, in spirit, forever tar Ryan as a Republican-In-Name-Only RINO.
As such, if elected president, Trump would have real leverage to essentially fire Paul Ryan as Speaker. Ryan would have to either fraternize with Democrats, or retire as Speaker of the House.
Let’s be real: Trump is not done backstabbing our—and his—Speaker of the House.
Picture courtesy of Tony Alter.