WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan called Russia a “global menace led by a man who is menacing,” once more underscoring the divide over Russia between President-elect Donald Trump and some lawmakers in his own party.
Appearing at a CNN Town Hall Thursday night, Ryan fielded questions from moderator Jake Tapper and audience members on health care, immigration, trade, foreign policy and even Trump’s Twitter habits.
The speaker reiterated his view that Russia “tried to affect our elections by meddling in our elections … there is no place for that.” He said sanctions were called for, and accused the Obama administration of not standing up to Russia over the past eight years, saying it followed “too much of an appeasement policy.”
While Trump has called for a closer relationship with Russia, Ryan said, “The Russians are up to no good, we all know that.”
At the same time, Ryan contended Russian’s actions had no impact on the election and dismissed as “junk” unsubstantiated claims that Russia has compromising information about Trump.
“I don’t even want to confer any more legitimacy to this stuff by talking about it,” he said, referring to those reports. “It’s not even worthy of media.”
On GOP plans to undo the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Ryan said Republicans want to repeal it and replace it at roughly the same time, as Trump has called for.
As recently as last month, the speaker told the Journal Sentinel in an interview that after repeal, “it will clearly take time” to craft a replacement.
“It’s not going to be replaced come next football season,” he said in December.
But Ryan said Thursday, “We want to do this at the same time and in some cases in the same bill.”
On immigration, Ryan was confronted by an undocumented immigrant and mother from Oklahoma who was brought to this country as a child. She said her daughter would lose her mother if Republicans repeal protections from deportation put in place by President Obama.
“Do you think I should be deported?” she asked.
Ryan told her, “No,” — that, “I can see that you love your daughter and you’re a nice person who has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future’s here.”
He said there would be no mass-deportation force and that the focus would be on deporting illegal immigrants who are repeating and violent offenders.
Ryan’s questioners also included a man who said his life had been saved by Obamacare and a woman opposed to GOP plans to defund Planned Parenthood.
Ryan said generally of Trump: “We don’t all agree on everything. I think people kind of know that.”
But he said they are in sync on much of what they want to get done this year.
Asked about Trump’s use of Twitter as communication tool, Ryan said the president-elect had mastered how to communicate directly without filters and “given voice to people who felt they’ve not been heard.”
Said Ryan: “I don’t think he’s going to stop doing that. … How it affects domestic policy and foreign policy, I don’t know. We’re going to find out, because we’re in uncharted territory.” ___
This article is written by Craig Gilbert from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.
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