House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on the Hill this morning that he usually doesn’t wade into “what’s going on in the presidential election” — but he wanted to make “an exception” in the case of Donald Trump.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” the real-estate magnate’s campaign said in a press release Monday.
Ryan stressed outside of a closed caucus meeting that he “made very clear at the time” the House passed a pause on the Syrian refugee program “there would not be a religious test.”
“There would be a security test. And that is because freedom of religion — freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country,” he said.
Turning his attention to Trump’s proposal: “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for,” Ryan said. “And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and to defend the Constitution.”
“Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims — the vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights,” he continued.
“I told our members this morning to always strive to live up to our highest ideals, to uphold those principles in the Constitution on which we swear every two years that we will defend. That’s why we are here and that is why we are going to stay here to do the people’s House, and do the people’s work.”
The House was taking up a bill today to tighten up the visa waiver program.
Pressed further on Trump’s comments, Ryan said he’s “not concerned about lasting damage to the party” from the candidate’s proposal.
“I’m concerned about standing up for our country’s principles,” the Speaker said. “These are first principles, and our party is dedicated to these first principles. And that’s why I think it’s incumbent upon leaders of our party like myself to stand up and defend what conservatism is and what the Republican Party stands for.”
On what he’d do if Trump wins the nomination: “I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is, and I’m going to stand up for what I believe in as I do that.”
Speaking to MSNBC this morning, Trump brushed off condemnation from Republicans.
“They’ve been condemning practically everything I say and then they come to my side. They were condemning the wall, they were condemning illegal immigration, they were condemning all of the things I’ve been espousing. And now most of them are on my side. And the ones that aren’t on my side are down to about 0 in the polls and they’re not going to go anywhere,” Trump said.
“…It’s not unconstitutional keeping people out, frankly, until we get a hold of what’s going on, Joe. And then you look at Franklin Roosevelt, a respected president, highly respected, take a look at presidential proclamations back a long time ago, 2525, 2526, and 2527, What he was doing with Germans, Italians and Japanese because he had to do it. Because, look, we are at war with radical Islam.”