Paul Ryan Is Done Defending Trump. Now, Trump Is Forcing Ryan to Defend Himself.

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Paul Ryan will not rescind his endorsement of Donald Trump. Instead, the House Speaker will simply pretend that the GOP nominee doesn’t exist.

In a conference call with House Republicans, Ryan announced that he would no longer defend — or campaign with — Donald Trump, focusing all of his energy on protecting his party’s House majority.

To that end, Ryan gave GOP lawmakers the green light to disavow the party’s nominee, inviting them to “make individual decisions about how to handle Mr. Trump” according to the New York Times. Several Republican candidates for the House and Senate already revoked their endorsements of Trump, following the release of an 11-year-old video in which the mogul brags about sexually assaulting women.

But Ryan’s remarks inspired heated pushback from his caucus, nonetheless.

“This isn’t rocket science — the better Donald Trump does, the better our party does,” one Republican lawmaker told Ryan, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher was particularly heated in his objections, according to the Times.

Ryan tried to quiet such dissent by insisting that he was not rescinding his endorsement of Trump.

It’s not hard to see why electing Trump is no longer one of Ryan’s priorities.

But even if the mogul can’t win the presidency, Rohrabacher & Co. may have a point: While it might make sense for individual Republican candidates in purple districts to distance themselves from Trump, the party as a whole would probably fare better the less discredited its standard-bearer becomes. The closer Trump is in the polls going into Election Day, the better Republican voter turnout is likely to be.

And Donald Trump will do everything in his power to make turncoats pay for their treachery. As the mogul made clear Monday afternoon:

Congressional Republicans have Ryan’s permission to abandon Trump. But their voters may prove less permissive.