Paul Ryan: "I'm Not Going To Hold My Breath" For Better Relations With Russia

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In an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that it is not unusual for new presidents to try to improve U.S.-Russia relations.

In response to President Trump saying that the U.S. should work with Russia to defeat ISIS, and that the U.S. has no moral standing to judge Putin's past actions, Ryan said: "Remember when George W. Bush said I could see through his soul or something like that?"

"He was trying to get close to Russia and trying to get close to Putin. George Bush did that. I don’t think it worked," Ryan continued. "Remember Hillary Clinton with the reset button on behalf of Barack Obama, trying to get close to Russia, trying to smooth things out with Russia? New administrations do this. Now, it’s logical as to why they want to do this."

"Can we help steer Russia to being... a country that aligns with our interests? I don’t personally — I’m not going to hold my breath on that," he said.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia. You have said on a number of occasions you want to see the sanctions against Russia continued. President Trump, though, has made some not just conciliatory, but even complimentary comments in the last few days about President Putin. Were you shocked by that?

REP. PAUL RYAN: Yes, I just don’t see it that way. I just see it differently.

I think, first of all, I don’t subscribe to relativism, whether it’s in political philosophy, foreign policy or in life. So, I don’t think there is a moral equivalency here at all. So, I just disagree with any kind of notion of a moral equivalency.

There’s a gaping difference between the United States of America and Putin’s Russia. That’s point number one.

Point number two, I think what the president is trying to do is not unlike what the past two presidents did with Russia. I just don’t think it’s going to work. Remember when George W. Bush said I could see through his soul or something like that?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Trying to get close to Russia.

REP. PAUL RYAN: Yes, he was trying to get close to Russia and trying to get close to Putin. George Bush did that. I don’t think it worked.

Remember Hillary Clinton with the reset button on behalf of Barack Obama, trying to get close to Russia, trying to smooth things out with Russia? New administrations do this. Now, it’s logical as to why they want to do this.

There are instances in which our interests align with Russia and there are those where they don’t. And so the question is, can we help steer Russia to being something that doesn’t conflict with our interests and something that — and a country that aligns with our interests?

I don’t personally — I’m not going to hold my breath on that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if this president were to relax sanctions against Russia…

REP. PAUL RYAN: Yes, I don’t support that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: … would you support legislation to prevent it?

REP. PAUL RYAN: Yes, no, I think the advantages were overdue. I think President Obama should have done them a year ago.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you would support legislation to keep them strong?

REP. PAUL RYAN: Yes, I do support — yes, I have long supported sanctions on Russia.


Watch the rest of Ryan's interview below:

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