Asked about former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) this morning, Donald Trump launched into a rather long tirade, which culminated in a curious claim:
"[F]or him to be going out and opening his mouth is pretty incredible. But maybe he gets paid for that. Who knows? Maybe he gets paid for that."
Even for this president, this was strange. Ryan spoke to Tim Alberta for the reporter's new book, "American Carnage." The idea that the former House Speaker was perhaps bribed by a journalist to say unflattering things about Trump is absurd.
But the claim is nevertheless familiar because the president makes it fairly regularly. Almost immediately after taking office, for example, Trump was confronted with progressive protests, causing the Republican to lash out at those he condemned as "paid protesters."
Because in his mind, if people didn't like him, it couldn't have been the result of genuine disgust.
In October 2018, as Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination sparked protests, Trump again argued that progressive activists were part of a corrupt ruse. "[L]ook at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others," the president wrote on Twitter. "These are not signs made in the basement from love!"
In March 2019, after Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, testified to Congress about his former boss, the president suggested Cohen was "being paid" by Hillary Clinton.
Now, it's Paul Ryan whom Trump suspects is on the take.
As hard as this may be for the president to believe, some people criticize Trump for reasons that have nothing to do with corruption or secret payments. Many believe he's worthy of criticism for reasons that are entirely sincere.