U.S. President Donald Trump (C) listens to House Speaker Paul Ryan (L) as he gathers with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House...
CARLOS BARRIA

Paul Ryan sees Trump 'giving us the leadership we need'

— Updated

Regular readers may recall a "Saturday Night Live" sketch from May in which "Donald Trump" sat down for an interview with NBC News' "Lester Holt" -- actors, of course, portrayed the real people -- only to be interrupted by an overeager young man who wanted to give the president some ice cream.

The young man was an actor playing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The sketch came to mind watching the Republican leader on Fox News last night, boasting about the "great relationship" he has with Trump; When Sean Hannity asked if he's pleased with Trump's presidency, Ryan replied, "I'm very happy." It led to this exchange:

RYAN: I think the president is giving us the leadership we need to get the country back on the right track. [...]

HANNITY: Any big disagreement you have with him?

RYAN: No.

The Speaker wasn't always quite this sycophantic towards Trump. As we've noted over the course of Trump's rise to power, when the Wisconsin congressman was convinced Donald Trump’s candidacy faced inevitable failure,  Ryan publicly rebuked his party’s presidential nominee – repeatedly.

In early October, after Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Ryan told GOP lawmakers he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him. A week before the election, the Wisconsin congressman was reluctant to even say Trump’s name out loud during a television interview.

But then the election happened -- and Ryan discovered he liked his party's leader after all.

Asked about Trump’s many conflicts of interest, Ryan said he doesn’t care. Asked about Russia’s role in helping get Trump elected, the Speaker passed the buck. Asked about the Muslim ban he used to oppose, Ryan defended the president's policy. Asked about Trump firing the FBI director to help derail an ongoing federal counter-espionage investigation, he wasn't especially concerned.

Just how badly does the Speaker of the House want tax breaks for the wealthy? The answer gets clearer every day.