POLITICS

Paul Ryan Struggles To Explain Why Trump Shouldn't Have To Resign Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

He said he's only focused on misconduct in Congress.

12/01/2017 08:06 EST | Updated 12/01/2017 11:42 EST

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) claims he wants public officials to be held to a high moral standard. Yet he doesn’t think that standard extends to the president.

Calling the outpouring of sexual misconduct allegations against power men a “watershed moment in this country,” Ryan said that Congress should “set high standards for ourselves so that we can be role models and set examples.”

He then spoke about his decision to call on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to bow out of the race. Moore has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women, including some who said they were teenagers at the time. 

“I believe those allegations are credible,” Ryan told NPR in an interview that aired Friday. But when asked whether that standard applied to President Donald Trump― who has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women and was infamously caught on tape bragging about groping― Ryan balked.

“I think the Roy Moore — I don’t know if — I’m focused on Congress,” Ryan said. “Roy Moore is trying to come to Congress. My job here as Speaker of the House is to help make sure that Congress is an institution that we’re proud of and that’s what I’m focused on. He’s running for Congress and I think the allegations against him were very very credible.”

He then wouldn’t directly respond to a question about whether Trump is being held to a high enough standard, instead referring to him as “a president who’s fighting for an agenda that will make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Ryan on Thursday called upon Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to resign immediately over several accusations of sexual harassment. Conyers stepped down from his role as the top Democrat in the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday, though he continues to deny the allegations.