January 27, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday slammed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, for taking an unsanctioned trip to Syria in which she met with President Bashar Assad, who many policymakers in the U.S. believe is guilty of war crimes against his own people.
“No, I would not have advised it at all,” Ryan said in a Friday interview with Politico, when asked if her trip was the right thing to do. “I don’t think it was right.”
“This is not a sanctioned trip. I didn’t know about it until after it happened,” he added.
Ryan said normally House leaders approve trips before they are taken, but he said he wasn’t informed it was happening. “That was not an official trip or a sanctioned trip,” he said.
“Bashar Assad is a butcher,” Ryan said. “The man is committing genocide against his own people. He should go.”
Ryan said he would “reserve judgment” on whether Gabbard should be punished, and said that while he and Gabbard are friends, that wouldn’t influence any decision he makes on this matter.
Gabbard raised eyebrows this week by admitting she met with Assad, and for saying the U.S. would likely have to work with him in order to bring peace to Syria. The Obama administration tried in vain for years to broker peace there, only to see Syria work with Russia to attack rebel groups backed by the U.S.