WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Capitol Hill today that he believes Donald Trump will be judged by the job he does in the Oval Office and not by the pick of Steve Bannon to be Trump’s chief adviser — his Valerie Jarrett, essentially.
The White House has not commented on Trump’s choice of the Breitbart CEO. But condemnation from Democrats on the Hill has been swift, with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) calling the chief strategist appointment “deeply troubling” as Bannon “has been a proud poster-child for white nationalism, anti-Semitism and misogynistic views.”
“Unless he can show a clear break from these divisive views, Stephen Bannon should not be allowed anywhere near the White House, let alone advising the president of the United States on all matters,” Cardin said Monday. “Hate cannot be the ruling force in our nation for the next four years and it certainly should not have an office in the West Wing.”
Asked about the Bannon pick and how he would respond to concerns about the selection, Ryan called Bannon “a person who helped him win an incredible victory and incredible campaign.”
“The president’s gonna be judged on the results of this administration. That’s why we’re very eager to get up and running, to help him with his transition, to get up and running and then to make progress on the mandate that has just been given to us by the American people,” he said. “So, we’re confident about moving forward, we’re confident about the transition and we’re very, very excited about getting to work for the American people.”
Ryan was pressed about a May article in Breitbart claiming that the speaker was a hypocrite for opposing a religious test for immigrants or visitors while his kids attend Catholic school and the website’s efforts to unseat Ryan in his primary election — Ryan crushed Breitbart-favored Paul Nehlen 84 percent to 16 percent in the August primary — and get him out of the speakership.
“Do you think that at any point Steve crossed the line?” Ryan was asked.
“I’m not worried about — I’m not looking backwards, I’m looking forward. I’m looking to the future and I’m looking forward to how make — how we make this work for the American people, how we help President-elect Trump be the most successful president in our lifetimes, how we make good on the promises and get this country going again,” the speaker replied.
“Look, you’ve heard me say this so many times, 70 percent of people in this nation think America’s going down the wrong path. They now just said get on a better way, get on a better path. That’s our job. Our job is not to look backwards. Our job is to look forward, make President-elect Trump as successful as possible, help him with the transition so we can make good on our commitment to the American people to fix this country’s big problems.”
The Trump transition team reportedly inquired about security clearances for the Trump’s children and son-in-law. Ryan said he’d leave it to the transition team to comment.
“I would say, look at this, Donald Trump is a multibillionaire successful businessman who has been so successful because he’s surrounded himself with good people. He is a man who has made great successes, created tens of thousands of jobs because he gets good advice from good people who are around him in his life. What’s wrong with that? That’s a good thing,” Ryan said.
“We’re going to focus on doing our job here in Congress. He’s going to focus on populating his administration. We’re going to do everything we can to help him be as successful as he’s going to be, which I think he’s going to be a very successful president. We have an exciting agenda, we have a transition team that we’re working with and we’re very excited about getting to work for the American people.”