House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has no problem with President-elect Donald Trump tweeting lies and conspiracy theories, including dangerous allegations of mass voter fraud in the recent presidential election.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Ryan said he could not prove Trump’s baseless claim that “millions of people voted illegally,” which the president-elect tweeted to his millions of followers last Sunday.
“I don’t know. I’m not really focused on these things,” Ryan said when anchor Scott Pelley asked him about Trump’s blatant lie.
“I have no way of backing that up. I have no knowledge of such things,” he said.
When Pelley continued to press him, Ryan said that the fact that the president-elect of the United States circulates false information on social media is not a concern to him.
“It doesn’t matter to me. He won the election,” he said. “The way I see the tweets you’re talking about, he’s basically giving voice to a lot of people who have felt that they were voiceless. He’s communicating with people in this country who’ve felt like they have not been listened to. He’s going to be an unconventional president.”
“Who cares what he tweeted, you know, on some Thursday night, if we fix this country’s big problems?” he added. “That’s just the way I look at this.”
On Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and several of Trump’s top advisers similarly would not condemn Trump’s lie and attempted to defend it, despite not being able to present any evidence of illegal voting.
Pence said it’s Trump’s “right to express his opinion,” calling it “refreshing,” and incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that “it’s possible” that Trump’s claim was true.
Ryan, who spent much of the last year distancing himself from Trump, said he is not concerned about Trump’s incendiary comments because his private conversations with Trump have been “productive.”
“I think there is a bit of a difference between the private person and the public person. In the private person, there’s a conversation like this, and it’s all about how to get things done,” he said Sunday. “So every conversation I have almost always revolves around, you know, personnel and policy focused on producing results.”