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Conservative Pundits Skewer Paul Ryan’s Political Cowardice: ‘He Made That Faustian Bargain’ With Trump’

Two ‘Never Trump’ Republican pundits, Charlies Sykes and Jennifer Rubin, accused former House Speaker Paul Ryan of political cowardice, for his decision to publicly criticize President Donald Trump now, only after having retired from Congress.

“When push came to shove, he made that Faustian bargain that he was going to keep his mouth shut and keep his head down and go along with Donald Trump,” Sykes told guest host Ali Velshi on MSNBC’s Last Word. “Maybe he simply thought it was worth it to make that bargain in order to get the tax cuts. The reality is his legacy is badly tarnished.”

The MSNBC panel was reacting to scathing comments about Trump that Ryan reportedly made to conservative author Tim Alberta, for the latter’s new book American Carnage: Inside the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump. In the book Ryan is quoted expressing shock at Trump’s ignorance about how government works and that he constantly had to step in to prevent the president from “making bad decisions.”

Trump did not take this well.

“Why is it so hard?” Velshi asked. “Why is it so hard for conservatives like Paul Ryan, and others like him, who have read conservative work and understand conservative economics to get out there in the arena and make an argument in favor of it? Why couldn’t they do that and push Trump aside?”

“They could have done it at various junctures before he was elected. After he was elected, I think several things happened,” Rubin said. “They thought this guy is not so bad; we can get deregulation, we can a bigger military budget,  we can tax reform. We just have to keep the bear from getting upset with us. And therefore we’ll just ignore everything else and we’ll just be pleased with these little crumbs. Second thing, these people are scared of their own shadow. They live to be reelected.”

Sykes then recalled how Ryan disinvited Trump from a political rally in Wisconsin right after the Hollywood Access tape story broke and told RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to drop Trump from the ticket.

“That was a decisive moment, but not decisive in the way a lot of us thought it would be,” Sykes explained. “The tragedy of Ryan, Republicans caved into Donald Trump, who they compromised their values and their principles for, but what makes Ryan different is he knew better. He always knew who Donald Trump was. He knew what Donald Trump was all about. He was privately disgusted about it. He didn’t have a different opinion than Jennifer and I had about Donald Trump. So in a lot of ways, his is the most disappointing and hard to defend.”

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

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