"I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity," Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper, referencing a much derided news conference the President held last week in which blamed racial hostilities on "both sides."
Though Ryan said he believes Trump has since "clarified" his comments, he acknowledged that the president's initial response to the violence was “morally ambiguous” and “confusing."
Tapper disagreed. “It wasn’t morally ambiguous. It was morally wrong, what the president said," he responded.
Tapper also called out Ryan for his reluctance to criticize the president for saying "very fine people" marched at the "Unite the Right" rally, which comprised white supremacists who chanted "Blood and soil!" and "Jews will not replace us!"
“There were not any ‘very fine people’ at that rally,” Tapper said, to considerable applause.
“I totally agree with that,” Ryan said. “It was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating. And that was wrong.”
Ryan might have stopped short of rebuking the president's rhetoric, but his colleagues have not. Many Republican lawmakers have slammed the president since he delivered his statements, particularly after he doubled down on his statements last week, blaming the "alt-left that came charging at the alt-right."
For the sake of our country, he must leave no room for doubt that racism and hatred will not be tolerated or ignored by his White House 3/3— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 16, 2017
At the time, Speaker Ryan himself referred to white supremacy as "repulsive," noting that "this bigotry is counter to all this country stands for."
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 15, 2017