In a stunning interview, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CNN Thursday that he cannot currently support Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.
"I'm just not ready to do that at this point," Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper, quickly adding that he hopes to be able to do so in the future.
The bombshell came just two days after the billionaire developer essentially clinched the nomination with a huge win in Indiana that forced his last two opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, from the race.
Describing himself as "just a guy giving you his piece of mind," Ryan said he wants to be able to support Trump but that he's just not there yet. He said Trump has work to do to unify the party.
Trump issued his own statement in response to Ryan.
"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda," Trump said in a prepared statement. "Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"
Ryan said many Republicans want to see "a standard-bearer who bears our standards" and "unifies all the wings of the Republican Party."
CNN's Dana Bash described the Ryan interview as a "seismic event." He later joked that he probably can be scratched off the Trump VP list.
Ryan, who was the subject of a campaign to draft an alternative to Trump earlier this year, stressed that he was determined to defeat Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee. But he repeatedly said that he was not ready to back Trump, who Ryan has repeatedly criticized.
"I hope to support his candidacy and I want to do it," he said in the bombshell interview. "I'm just not there right now. … I think what a lot of Republicans want to see is a standard bearer … who offers solutions… to unify the party."
"Our presumptive nominee needs to do that."
Ryan called this year's presidential election one where the "stakes are extremely high," and acknowledged he believe "no Republican should ever support Hillary Clinton."
"It's time to set aside bullying… and appeal to higher aspirations," he said, echoing a speech he gave earlier this spring.
"Our presumptive nominee needs to unify the party for the party to be unified," he added. "We're not there right now. It is possible. We need to get on it… it needs to be possible because so much is as stake."
And until he believes that is underway, ""I'm just not ready to jump in," Ryan said.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got behind Trump. But former Sen. Bob Dole is currently the only former GOP presidential nominee planning to go to the Republican convention this summer – and former presidents George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, have both said they'll sit out the event as well. Mitt Romney has also bowed out.
The comments from Ryan immediately stoked speculation that Ryan himself is interested in a future run for the White House, The Hill reports, noting Republicans in the House have already praised him as a strong candidate to emerge at a brokered convention.
Ryan has repeatedly slammed Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. He's also criticized violence that has broken out at Trump events.
During an election-night party in March, Trump issued a threat to Ryan after he slammed Trump for failing to forcefully disavow white supremacist David Duke.
“I’m going to get along great with Congress, Okay? Paul Ryan, I don’t know him well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him, and if I don’t, he’s gonna have to pay a big price,” Trump said at the time.
On Thursday, Ryan shook his head and said he wasn’t worried at all about Trump's threats.
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