Paul Ryan Refuses To Call Out Trump For Renewed Muslim Ban Push


WASHINGTON -- The shift is on.

On Dec. 8, 2015, Speaker Paul Ryan stood in the lobby of the Republican National Committee headquarters and called out Donald Trump for his proposed ban on Muslims coming into the United States.

"This is not conservatism," Ryan said in December. "What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it's not what this country stands for."

Six months later, with Trump seeming to have secured the Republican nomination, Ryan stood in the very same lobby and took a very different tone.

The Wisconsin Republican confirmed on Tuesday that he still disagrees with the idea that America should prohibit immigrants from one religion -- "I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country's interest, I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country," Ryan said -- but he was far less sharp-tongued about it. He wasn't even willing to say that Trump would not, as the presumptive nominee contended on Monday, have the authority to prohibit Muslims from entering the country if he were president. 

"That's a question about immigration law," Ryan said. "And you can go into the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization [sic] Act to determine whether or not the president has that kind of discretion."

For a party that regularly fights against executive overreach, refusing to weigh in on a unilateral ban on Muslims is an incredible amount of latitude to give a presumptive presidential nominee.

Ryan was clear with reporters that he still believes such a move is counterproductive and antithetical to who we are as a nation.

"This is a war with radical Islam," Ryan said. "It is not a war with Islam. Muslims are our partners. The vast, vast majority of Muslims in this country and around the world are moderate, they're peaceful, they're tolerant."

But gone was Ryan's willingness to directly call out Trump.

When the speaker was asked for his reaction to Trump's comments on the Orlando shooting, his comments that American Muslims have been harboring terrorists, and his comments questioning whether President Barack Obama really wants to fight terrorism, Ryan saved his harshest criticism for the reporter making the query.

"That's a loaded question," Ryan said.

When the speaker finally got down to the topic, he encouraged "everyone, including our nominee," to work with the House GOP on terrorism and immigration. He mentioned that Republicans were repackaging a number of bills dealing with terrorism, and he noted that Congress had passed into law a measure with enhanced security measures for the country's visa waiver program.

Ryan also said there was an important distinction between Muslims and radical Islamic terrorists, but he didn't point out that the distinction seemed to be lost on Trump, who has accused the Muslim community of not reporting the Orlando shooter to authorities. "For some reason, the Muslim community does not report people like this," Trump said Monday.

The FBI investigated the shooter twice, and found no reason to keep him under surveillance.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.