February 24, 2024

Paul Ryan, former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, did an online video interview. He called Donald Trump a “populist, authoritarian narcissist.” Ryan’s comments produced predictable reaction: a slew of headlines, an angry diatribe from a Trump spokesman, and then nothing. As we move into a Presidential-election year with Trump seemingly poised to capture the G.O.P. nomination for a third time let’s examine Ryan’s remarks. Since retiring from Congress in 2018, Ryan has kept a low profile. The interview last week was part of an event for Teneo, an international consulting firm that Ryan joined in 2020, where he is now vice-chairman. He’s also a non-executive director of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation. The interview sparked controversy when Kevin Kajiwara, co-president of Teneo, asked Ryan about Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who called out Trump, to which Ryan responded by referring to Trump as an authoritarian with a big chunk of the Republican base following him. During the 2016 G.O.P. primaries, Ryan withheld his support for Trump. But, he later endorsed him. Ryan won’t be joining Cheney and Kinzinger on the Republican honor roll call from the Trump years. He suggested that a conviction in an impeachment trial would have been enough to finish off Trump, and that many Republicans now privately regret not doing this.