Donald Trump raised more than a few eyebrows yesterday after the public learned of his stated plan to end birthright citizenship through an executive order. Within hours, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made clear that the president’s intentions would not work.
“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” the retiring Republican said in a radio interview yesterday. “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution. And in this case, I think the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”
Evidently, Trump heard about the comments – and he’s not pleased.
President Donald Trump lashed out at Speaker Paul D. Ryan a day after the retiring GOP leader broke with the president over granting U.S. citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil.
“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the [House] Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Part of the problem with the president’s pushback is that Ryan, based on practically every credible legal analysis available, is almost certainly correct and Trump is almost certainly wrong.
For that matter, it’s equally problematic that the nation’s first amateur president, who has no legal background, and whose understanding of constitutional law has occasionally been cringe-worthy, considers himself something of an expert on the subject.
But I’m also interested in the apparent demise of the Trump-Ryan partnership.
In the closing days of the 2016 race, the House Speaker and his party’s presidential nominee were not on the same page. After Ryan expressed confidence in the nation’s election system in mid-October, Trump denounced the congressman’s willingness to publicly disagree with him.
Trump’s offensive against Ryan began in earnest around that time; it reached a new level when Trump accused Ryan of being part of a “sinister” conspiracy against the GOP ticket; and it included Trump allies making some pretty bizarre allegations against the Wisconsin lawmaker.
After the election, Ryan played the role of good partisan soldier, defending the indefensible, ignoring calls for congressional oversight, and saying what the White House wanted to hear. (“I think the president is giving us the leadership we need to get the country back on the right track,” the Speaker told Fox News last year.)
For his trouble, Ryan has earned … very little. Trump expects Republicans to ignore obvious truths about constitutional law, and the Speaker has therefore disappointed the president.
What’s more, the fact that the president specifically wrote, “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the [House] Majority” suggests we know who Trump will blame if Democrats retake the chamber.