GOP Slams Paul Ryan for 'Didn't Have the Guts to Impeach Trump' Claim

Republicans and conservatives have slammed former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after he said members of his party "didn't have the guts" to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Ryan made the remarks at an event in Florence, South Carolina on Wednesday for Republican Representative Tom Rice, who voted to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 and is now facing a Trump-endorsed GOP challenger.

"There were a lot of people who wanted to vote like Tom but who just didn't have the guts to do it," Ryan said.

"There are a lot of people who say they're going to vote their conscience, they're going to vote for the Constitution, they're going to vote for their convictions, but when it gets hard to do that, they don't do it," he said.

Paul Ryan Pictured in the Capitol
Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan walks from the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on December 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Ryan is facing backlash for comments about Republicans impeaching former President Donald Trump. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ryan's remarks elicited anger and criticism from conservatives who support the former president but also from those who are opposed to Trump with many social media users calling Ryan a "RINO," or a Republican in Name Only.

Jerrod Sessler, a Republican congressional candidate in Washington's 4th district, pointed to Ryan's time as speaker: "I am still quite disappointed in Paul Ryan for ruining the period of opportunity that we had from 2017-2019. Does he not yet take any responsibility for his own anti-conservative (RINO) acts?"

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida's 1st district didn't mention Ryan's comments directly, but tweeted on Thursday: "In the past, Paul Ryan has called me an entertainer, not a legislator. @SpeakerRyan was a vessel for the special interests to operate through. There was nothing sincere or entertaining about that. He simply wasn't a fighter, and that's his problem."

Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of conservative group ACT for America, tweeted: "The Republican Party moved on from Paul Ryan a LONG time ago."

Nick Adams, who describes himself as best-selling author "endorsed by President Trump," wrote: "I stand with best President Donald J Trump, not failed RINO Speaker and Vice President candidate Paul Ryan."

"There's no place for Paul Ryan in the Republican Party today," Adams said in another tweet.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who came out publicly against former President Trump and endorsed President Joe Biden, also took issue with Ryan's comments.

"Paul Ryan would've been one of those 'gutless Republicans.' Ryan pisses me off bcuz he's had a big platform the past 4 yrs but he's said absolutely NOTHING as Trump incited an insurrection, attacked our democracy, & destroyed the truth," Walsh tweeted.

"Ryan has no business talking about courage," he added.

Christian Vanderbrouk, who worked in former President George W. Bush's administration for eight years, tweeted sarcastically: "lotta courage Paul Ryan is showing at Fox these days."

Ryan joined the board of Fox News' parent company, Fox Corp., in March, 2019. He had served as speaker of the House from 2015 to 2019 and was the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate.