UPDATE — 6/1, 11:54 a.m. EDT: Former Speaker John Boehner downplayed his comments from last week about President Trump on Wednesday, saying the media has “gotten carried away” with its meaning.
Speaking at the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers Employee Leadership Forum in Colorado Springs, Colo., Boehner explained the current administration has made “unforced errors”, but is not a “disaster.”
The Ohio Republican, who played golf with Trump on numerous occasions while Speaker of the House, also gave 60/40 odds on tax reform legislation being pass by the end of the year.
“The border adjustment tax is deader than a doornail. Tax reform is just a bunch of happy talk.”
In the less than two-year period since his abrupt resignation from Congress in October 2015, John Boehner has remained relatively quiet about the goings-on in Washington until a recent speaking engagement in which the former House Speaker declared President Trump a “disaster”.
Addressing an annual KPMG Global Energy Conference on Wednesday, the ex-congressman took questions from the audience and spared no word of criticism of Trump in which he saw fit.
After applauding Trump’s aggressive position on the Islamic State (ISIS), fighting international terrorism and a scattering of foreign policy designs, Boehner eviscerated the president, suggesting his tenure in the White House is a work in progress.
“Everything else he’s done has been a complete disaster. He’s still learning how to be president,” he said.
The former Ohio Republican added he would prefer if Trump would avoid social media, dismissed tax reform in Capitol Hill’s current climate as “happy talk,” and appeared to welcome probing Russian influence of the 2016 presidential election.
Despite his harsh words for Mr. Trump, Boehner had equally-severe words for the president’s Democratic opponents and denounced talk of impeachment.
“I don’t know why either of these campaigns (Hillary Clinton or Trump) were talking to Russians, but they need to get to the bottom of this,” he continued. “The crazy left wing Democratic colleagues of mine bringing up impeachment talks . . . talk of impeachment is the best way to rile up Trump supporters. Remember: impeachment is not a legal process; it’s a political process.”
Mr. Boehner once described Trump as “barely a Republican” and someone who became a GOP member in order to seek the White House.
Boehner later offered lukewarm support for the then-presidential nominee, never fully embracing the New York businessman’s bid for the Oval Office, preferring to limit backing Trump with a pledge to vote for him.
Since resigning his seat in Congress, Boehner has sat on a variety of corporate boards and later joined the Cleveland-based international law firm of Squire Patton Boggs as a lobbyist.
[Roll Call] [Rigzone] [The Hill]