Apr 7, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump v. Paul Ryan: The final round

Paul Ryan

The Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2017. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The book out Tuesday by Politico's Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, "A Hill to Die On," is full of juicy nuggets about Congress from Election Day '16 through the shutdown (some gleaned from phone calls they were allowed to eavesdrop on).

Here's a sneak peek at one of my favorite recurring themes — the fraught relationship between President Trump and former House Speaker Paul Ryan: On Oct. 10, 2016, three days after the "Access Hollywood" tape emerged, Ryan held "a rare conference call with all House Republicans. Ryan's message on the call was blunt: Republicans should feel free to abandon Trump."

  • "I am not going to defend Donald Trump," Ryan said. "Not now, not in the future."
  • "He couldn't shake the fact that Trump was so vulgar. People just don't talk like that where I'm from, he thought."

As Election Night wore on, Ryan thought: "Oh my God ... This guy might've done it."

  • "This is unbelievable," Ryan told Trump. "It looks like you're going to win."
  • When Trump was asked by the authors why he was willing to let Ryan's disloyalty go, the president replied: "Because it's life and we sort of need each other a little bit."

A screaming match between Trump and Ryan followed the president's revelation to "Axios on HBO" that he wanted to change birthright citizenship.

  • After Ryan criticized the idea on air and Trump tweeted a retort, the two "had a heated phone conversation. Why are you popping me? Ryan asked the president. Because you just did it to me! Trump responded."

When Ryan announced a year and a half later that he wouldn't run for re-election, Jake and Anna write: "You couldn't help but get the sense ... that Ryan was just tired of Donald Trump. Couldn't-take-it-anymore tired."

  • At one point, "The president blew up at Ryan, angry he had not gotten enough money for his border wall. He asked the Speaker if he could move money from military spending on things like fighter jets to be spent on a wall. 'You can't do that,' Ryan told him."


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