Paul Ryan said he was 'surprised' at how easily Trump could intimidate the GOP: 'One guy could just Luca Brasi you'

·3 min read
  • Paul Ryan compared Trump's ability to scare Republicans to the fictional "Godfather" enforcer Luca Brasi.

  • Ryan said Trump's control over the GOP was "like a mass sociology experiment."

  • The former House Speaker's comments were reported in a new book by The Atlantic's Mark Leibovich.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed amazement at how easily Donald Trump has wielded his control over the Republican Party and compared the former president's iron fist to an infamous character from "The Godfather," according to a new book.

"It just surprised me so much," Ryan said, according to reporter Mark Leibovich's new book, "Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission." Insider obtained an advanced copy of the book before its publication on Tuesday.

Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, said he was astounded that just "one guy" could effectively rule the party by fear.

"The idea that just one guy—one guy could just Luca Brasi you, and all of these members would be so afraid," Ryan said, referring to the infamous soldier and enforcer for mobster Vito Corleone in the novel and film "The Godfather" who could "frighten the devil in hell himself," according to "Godfather" author Mario Puzo.

"Luca Brasi did not fear the police, he did not fear society, he did not fear God, he did not fear hell, he did not fear or love his fellow man," Puzo wrote. "But he had elected, he had chosen, to fear and love Don Corleone."

Ryan got on the subject of Brasi while recounting to Leibovich how after he left Congress, a man approached him when he was at a Metalica concert with his family.

"He said, 'My wife likes you, but I'm a conservative,'" Ryan said the man told him. Ryan retorted that he in fact was a conservative. But the man only replied, 'Yeah, but Trump doesn't like you.'"

Ryan refused to campaign with Trump, his party's presidential nominee, in Wisconsin in 2016 after the publication of Trump's infamous "Access Hollywood" tape. Ryan later retired from Congress ahead of the GOP's 2018 midterm drubbing.

Ryan said the interaction at the concert would have scared his former colleagues, who know that defying Trump on even a single vote can have disastrous consequences for their careers.

"If you're a member of Congress, that rattles you. The intimidation factor," Ryan said, according to the book. "If you're below 97 percent on the fealty scale, Trump's going to come after you. It's like a mass sociology experiment."

Left unmentioned was Brasi's fate. Brasi is ultimately tricked and strangled with piano wire. All that remains of him is his bulletproof vest wrapped around a dead fish signaling that he sleeps with the fish.

Spokespeople for Trump and Ryan didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. It is not his daughter's wedding day.

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