House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) kicked off the congressional GOP retreat in Philadelphia today by telling reporters President Trump’s tweets are “just something that we’re all going to have to get used to.”
“This is going to be an unconventional presidency. I think you know this by now,” Ryan said at a joint press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when asked how surprised he is at every new tweet from the commander in chief. “And I think we’re going to see unconventional activities like tweets and things like that.”
McConnell added, “For myself, I don’t tend to be kind of reacting to daily comments.”
“What the speaker has done, which I entirely concur with and the administration is on board with, is to lay out a game plan through the August recess of what we want to try and accomplish,” he said. “And for myself, I intend to stick to the plan and make as much progress as we can.”
Ryan disagreed with a reporter’s observation that Trump seems to change his opinions frequently.
“I don’t share that opinion that he changes his opinion day to day. You’ll see different emphasis, but with respect to the core agenda that we have laid out for our members that we are planning and coordinating in the House and the Senate, we have done this in conjunction with the administration,” he said.
“We ran on these issues all of 2016. So there’s nothing — no surprise here. And the president agrees with this agenda and we’ve laid out not just the issues that we are going to be focusing on, but the timeline. So that is consistent and that has not changed.”
They both noted disagreements with Trump, though, on the president’s intention to review torture policy. “I wanna do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works,” Trump told ABC News in an interview aired Wednesday. “Have I spoken to people at the top levels and people that have seen it work? I haven’t seen it work. But I think it works. Have I spoken to people that feel strongly about it? Absolutely.”
McConnell noted that new CIA Director Mike Pompeo “has made it clear he’s going to follow the law — and I believe virtually all of my members are comfortable the state of the law on that issue now.”
“And torture’s illegal,” Ryan added. “And torture’s not legal so — and we agree with it not being legal.”
Ryan argued that Trump’s spate of executive orders and presidential memoranda in his first week is “quite the opposite” of President Obama’s use of executive orders.
“President Obama used his pen and phone and executive orders to exceed his power, in our perspective. Everything that President Obama did by executive order, this new president can undo. We would like to see these things undone and we’d like to see power restored to the people and the states, not the federal government,” Ryan said.
“And that is what this new president is doing. He’s restoring the proper balance. And in our opinion he is undoing a lot of damage that was done by the last president, who exceeded his power.”