The Slatest

Paul Ryan Tells Putin to “Stay out of This Election” While His Presidential Pick Trump Says the Opposite

RNC chairman Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan consult one another during the the Republican National Convention on July 19.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Speaking at a bizarre-even-by-his-standards press conference on Wednesday, Donald Trump encouraged Russia to conduct cyberespionage in the United States. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing,” the GOP nominee said, referring to those messages that Hillary Clinton and her team deemed personal and deleted from her private server before turning over her State Department emails for archiving. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

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This, as my colleague Jeremy Stahl has already noted, is a crazy thing for a presidential candidate to say aloud, and ranks pretty high up on the list of the many, many, many things that Trump has said and done that should make anyone think twice about voting for him. The Clinton campaign has, of course, taken issue with Trump’s comments, but even Trump’s own Republican allies are having trouble squaring their publicly stated beliefs with Trump’s request that a foreign government involve itself in a U.S. presidential election via an illegal hack.

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Here, for instance, is what House Speaker Paul Ryan had to say Wednesday on the matter of the growing consensus that the Kremlin was involved in the DNC hack, via a spokesman:

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Russia is a global menace led by a serious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.

And here was what Trump’s own running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, had to say on the topic at roughly the same time Trump was rambling on at his press conference:

If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.

(Meanwhile, full-time Trump defender Newt Gingrich tried to dismiss Trump’s request as a joke, which Trump’s own Twitter account and campaign team suggested it was not.)

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So, Ryan and Pence—the leader of the GOP and its potential VP, respectively—went on record as saying one thing (Russia shouldn’t interfere in American democracy) at roughly the same time Trump was saying the exact opposite (Russia, pretty please interfere in this election!). Will that obvious disagreement be enough to convince either of them to rethink their efforts to put Trump in the White House? Don’t hold your breath. Ryan, Pence, and the rest of their party already have plenty of practice excusing, justifying, or otherwise ignoring the words and actions of their nominee.

Elsewhere in Slate:

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.

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