Paul Ryan will no longer defend Trump; urges GOP to shift focus on keeping House majority
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - House Speaker Paul Ryan, on a conference call with Republican leadership, said he would no longer defend Donald Trump or his campaign, according to multiple reports.
The Associated Press noted Ryan wouldn't defend Trump "now or in the future" while encouraging fellow Republican lawmakers to focus on keeping the House majority.
A source told CNN Ryan told those on the call, "you need to do what’s best for you and your district.”
The Speaker said his goal was to not give a "blank check" to a Democratic administration. CNN added Ryan didn't formally rescind his endorsement for Trump, although the Senator uninvited Trump from a campaign event in his home state of Wisconsin Saturday following the release of a damning video in which Trump makes a number of sexually aggressive comments about women.
Trump's chief spokesman says "nothing's changed" — even after Ryan said he is focusing on ensuring Clinton doesn't get a blank check as president.
Jason Miller dismissed Ryan's comments on Monday. Miller tweeted that, "Mr. Trump's campaign has always been powered by a grassroots movement, not Washington."
Trump then tweeted, "Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee."
Ryan over the weekend said he was "sickened" by the comments Trump made in the video that was shot in 2005 and released online by the Washington Post Friday evening.
A source told the Washington Post the tone of Monday's call was "nervous."
Republicans currently hold a 30-seat advantage over Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Ryan's message appeared to signal his disbelief in Trump's ability to turn the campaign around with four weeks until Election Day, though he didn't actually revoke his endorsement. He said his decision was driven by what he thought was best for the Republican-led Congress, not himself, according to people on the call.
Those lawmakers weren't authorized to be quoted by name and demanded anonymity.
Ryan said he will "spend his entire energy making sure that Hillary Clinton does not get a blank check with a Democrat-controlled Congress," one such person said. Ryan added that he was "willing to endure political pressure to help protect our majority."
This story will be updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.