Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced this morning that he will retire from congress after 20 years.
After 20 years of gainful employment, Ryan, who never held a full-time job outside politics, rides into the sunset where he will live out the rest of his days back on the dole after receiving his federal pension at age 50. Despite working to cut social security, Ryan was raised and educated on the taxpayer's dime after his father dropped dead at age 55.
The Wisconsin representative became a national name after being tapped by Mitt Romney to run as vice president in 2012. He leaves a legacy inextricably linked to Donald Trump, a man who he seems to despise but whom he would never stand up to. Seemingly no one—on the left or right—was sad to see Ryan step aside this morning.
Here are eight occasions when Ryan could have stood up to stop Trump but didn't.
Paul Ryan refused to criticize Trump by name when acknowledging that the future president's violent campaign rallies, in which minorities and protestors were often brutalized by thuggish supporters, were problematic. "I think the candidates need to take responsibility for the environment at their events. There is never an excuse for condoning violence, or even a culture that presupposes it," Ryan said at the time. But Trump never took responsibility, and did condone violence. Ryan refused to stand up and demand anything from his party's leader.
Paul Ryan rolled over on Russia in June 2016, and has never looked back. Republicans had been hawkish on Russia since Ronald Reagan, but Donald Trump's affinity for the nation changed all that. Before the Republican convention, the party re-wrote its platform to remove anything that might seem as confrontational to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Paul Ryan, then the most powerful Republican in the country, went along with it.
Paul Ryan seemingly knew that Russia was up to no good, too. Which is why he and a few colleagues laughed about a House Republican and Trump colluding with a hostile foreign power during a meeting on Capitol Hill. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” said Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in an exchange recorded and later reported by The Washington Post. (California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is fervent defender of Russia.) Ryan laughed about this and then swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
Paul Ryan endorsed Trump for president in 2016. He wasn't quick to do it, as he seemingly realized it was a bad idea, but in June 2016 he did it anyway. What makes it worse is that Ryan's reluctance was based on a principled stand—such as opposing Trump's ban on Muslims entering the country. But such proposals were not enough to push Ryan to make a principled stand. "I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives,” he said when he made the endorsement.
Just a week later, Paul Ryan refused to drop his endorsement after Trump's racist remarks about a federal judge. "Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment," Ryan said at the time. And yet, while recognizing that Trump was racist, Ryan would not back away from endorsing him.
Paul Ryan still refused to back away from his endorsement after Trump apparently admitted to sexual assault on the Access Hollywood tape. Ryan "deserted" Trump but refused to actually pull his endorsement or encourage others not to vote for Trump, basically telling Republicans that they were on their own. Ryan disinvited from a joint campaign appearance in Wisconsin but would not call for him to step aside.
Paul Ryan refused to criticize Trump by name after the president supported the white supremacist who killed a peaceful protestor in Charlottesville. Ryan implied that he took issue with the president's "moral relativism" but would not actually say Trump was wrong and that his comments were harmful to the country.
We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society. My thoughts on #Charlottesville → https://t.co/L3OdFaipJ8— Paul Ryan (@Paul Ryan)1503323202.0
Paul Ryan refused to reign in a House Republican who leaked a Senate Democrat's texts, which were obtained under the pretense of an impartial investigation into Trump's ties to Russia. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia had tried to set up a meeting with "pee tape" dossier author Christopher Steele, who is in hiding as Russia assassinates people believed to have been his sources. Devin Nunes would not deny leaking a congressional colleague's sensitive texts—and Paul Ryan would not do anything about it.