Paul Ryan shrugs off Trump's threats to punish critics as 'trolling'


There is no Trump disgrace Ryan won't ignore.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) continued his spectacular abdication of leadership by dismissing Trump's outrageous threat to punish dissent as mere "trolling."

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Ryan was asked about Trump's threat to revoke the security clearances of half a dozen former intelligence officials who have been critical of the administration.

"Is it dangerous to go down that road?" asked MSNBC's Kasie Hunt.

Ryan rolled his eyes and replied, "I think he's trolling people, honestly."

"This is something that's in the purview of the executive branch," Ryan continued with a laugh. "I think some of these people have already lost their clearances, some people keep their clearances. That's something that the executive branch deals with. It's not really in our purview."

When Hunt pressed him again, Ryan repeated, "I think he's just trolling people."

Ryan was responding to the threat, issued through White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday, to revoke the security clearances of former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe,  and former CIA Director John Brennan.

But even though Trump's threat was ill-informed — both Comey and McCabe have already lost their security clearances — it is still an unprecedented and explicit attempt to punish political speech. Yet Ryan laughed it off like it was a nasty tweet from an internet rando.

Ryan's deference to the executive branch was nowhere to be found when, for example, he criticized President Obama's executive actions in the wake of the Newtown gun massacre, without even knowing what would be in them.

In the Trump era, however, Ryan has become a cowardly enabler of every Trump outrage. He has consistently sided with Republican attempts to sabotage the Russia investigation.

Even though he acknowledged Trump's "textbook" racism during the presidential campaign, he refused to call Trump out by name for praising Nazis. Ryan has also enabled Trump's racist policy of ripping children away from their parents.

The sad fact is that elected Republicans have all demonstrated a craven willingness to enable Trump, but that disgrace is magnified in the likes of Paul Ryan, who are supposed to be leaders in a democracy that is clearly under attack from within.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.