In the moments after then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan publicly chastised President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. last year, the president called Ryan and harshly criticized his political skills, according to a new tell-all book by former White House aide Cliff Sims.
“Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a– for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’” Trump told Ryan, according to an excerpt of Sims’ book “Team of Vipers,” published Monday in the Washington Post. “Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She’s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her . . . Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?”
“I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told Ryan, according to Sims, who worked on Trump’s campaign and subsequently served as a West Wing communications aide. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a–.”
In the wake of the violent riot in Charlottesville that left one woman dead, Ryan joined the chorus of voices criticizing Trump over his suggestion that there were “good people on both sides” of the conflict between white nationalist demonstrators, angered over the removal of Civil War era statues, and a large group of counter-protesters.
“I do believe that he messed up in his comments Tuesday,” Ryan said of the president during a televised town hall held nine days after the riot, “when it sounded like moral equivalency, or at the very least, moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity.”
Sims goes on to describe a subsequent meeting between Trump and Ryan that ended abruptly when Trump, appearing bored, walked out of the Oval Office as Ryan was describing a Republican healthcare bill designed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After glancing out the window and staring at the walls, Trump left the room and returned to his private dining room to watch television. The president eventually returned to the meeting at Vice President Mike Pence’s urging.
Sims book, available January 29, describes a range of emotionally-fraught interactions between the president and his aides and generally paints a picture of chaos and disarray within the White House.