Donald Trump’s relationship with “establishment” Republicans has been rocky. Many of the GOP lawmakers who now support him, do so with very little enthusiasm. For every Chris Christie eager to ride Trump’s coattails, there’s a Paul Ryan who looks like he wants to jump off the nearest cliff.
But those reservations aside, Republicans have pinched their noses and endorsed Trump. Ryan may not be able to sleep at night but he’s managed to come around to supporting the Republican nominee. After all, who needs integrity when your side can “win?” Likewise for John McCain, whose endorsement of Trump may cost him his reelection and will certainly cost him his legacy.
So what do these cowards get in exchange? Trump just threw them under the bus. Apparently, their grim endorsements proved they weren’t loyal enough.
In a bombshell admission to the Washington Post, Trump said he wasn’t ready to endorse Paul Ryan or John McCain or others who haven’t properly kissed his ring.
Twisting the knife in Ryan’s back, he suggested the Speaker of the House was weak.
With Ryan’s Wisconsin primary scheduled for next Tuesday, Trump praised the House speaker’s underdog opponent, Paul Nehlen, for running “a very good campaign.” Trump said that Ryan has sought his endorsement, but that as of now he is only “giving it very serious consideration.”
“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.
It will be lost on no one that “I’m not quite there yet” is the exact line Paul Ryan used in the agonizing weeks before he caved and endorsed Trump.
One hilarious caveat here: Paul Ryan denies ever begging Trump for his endorsement.
JUST IN from Ryan camp: "Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump's endorsement." pic.twitter.com/dQ8mqUbZDQ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 2, 2016
So now Ryan is left with the unenviable task of both still supporting Trump but also calling him a liar.
In a massively offensive dig at John McCain, a former POW and war hero, Trump said he couldn’t endorse the Arizona senator because he doesn’t treat vets well.
I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets,” Trump continued. “He has not done a good job for the vets and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly.
This from Trump, a man who dodged Vietnam and later called McCain a loser for getting captured during that same conflict. (He has never apologized.)
It seems very likely that the Republican Party is confronting a party shattering moment. On the same day that Trump cast out the GOP’s Speaker of the House and one of its former presidential nominees, a sitting Republican congressman finally broke ranks and announced that he would be voting Hillary instead of Trump, citing the fact that Trump represents a threat to America’s very existence.
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images