Paul Ryan Says He’s Helped to Avoid ‘Tragedy’ in the Trump Administration

August 7, 2018, 5:00 PM UTC

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s “very comfortable with the decisions” he’s made during the Trump administration. “I would make them again, do it again the same way,” he told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday.

Many have criticized Ryan for his soft approach to criticizing the president’s controversial moves, as he rarely speaks directly in opposition to President Donald Trump’s statements, but the speaker says he’s helped to avoid “tragedy” behind the scenes.

“I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy,” said Ryan. “I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal.”

When asked exactly what tragedies he’s helped avoided, Ryan returned to his tactical silence: “No, I don’t want to do that,” he told the Times. “That’s more than I usually say.”

Ryan spoke about managing relations with Trump, with whom he has a historically rocky relationship. As CNN reports, Ryan withheld his endorsement for Trump until he was clearly the GOP nominee, and occasionally criticized Trump’s actions during the campaign, particularly after the release of the Access Hollywood tape.

Once Trump was elected, however, Ryan focused on compromise.

“I think some people would like me to start a civil war in our party and achieve nothing,” Ryan told the Times. But the speaker says criticizing the president only “boomerangs,” making Trump go in the opposite direction. “The pissing match doesn’t work,” he said.

After a rather tumultuous two years under Trump, Ryan announced last April that he would not be seeking reelection in November. At 48, Ryan is retiring early for most politicians, but says he wants to spend more time with his family. He told the Times how his father died at 55, when Ryan was only 16.

“And his dad died when he was 57, all of heart attacks,” Ryan said. “So I’ve always had a sense that life is real quick — you better grab it.”

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