House Speaker Paul Ryan is careful not to criticize President Trump publicly, but on Thursday night he found the right forum to do it.
The annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner gives politicians a chance to crack jokes about themselves, their opponents, the media and the political system. Ryan was the keynote speaker and took several lighthearted jabs at President Trump.
"Enough with the applause, alright? You sound like the cabinet when Donald Trump walks in the room," Ryan said to open his remarks. "Just might as well get off to it, right?"
During the white-tie fundraiser to support Catholic charities, Ryan poked fun at Trump's use of twitter and White House staff turnover.
"Every morning I wake up in my officeand I scroll Twitter to see which tweets I will have to pretend that I did not see later on," Ryan said, alluding to Trump's frequent early-morning tweetstorms (and the fact that Ryan doesn't have a residence in D.C. outside of his office).
"The truth is, the press absolutely misunderstands and never records the big accomplishments of the White House," Ryan said. "Look at all the new jobs that the president has created just among the White House staff."
Trump garnered criticism for his speech at last year's Smith Dinner, where attacks on Hillary Clinton drew boos from the crowd at the traditionally jovial event.
"Some said it was unbecoming of a public figure, and they said that his comments were offensive," Ryan said. "Well, thank God he's learned his lesson."
Ryan also zinged Hillary Clinton, his Senate colleagues and the ongoing Russia investigation during his 17-minute speech. And, he predicted how the media would cover his remarks:
"Everyone's going to report this thing differently. Breitbart's going to lead with 'Ryan slams the president amongst liberal elites.' The New York Times is going to report, 'Ryan defends the president in a state Hillary won.' And the president will tweet, '300,000 at Al Smith dinner cheer mention of my name.'"
On Clinton's campaign: "Like you've heard, I'm from Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a fantastic place to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone probably should have told Hillary Clinton that."
"This thing [Hillary Clinton's book What Happened] sums up politics perfectly. She took 8 months, writing 10 hours a day, to explain what happened in 512 pages. The president explained it in a tweet: #IWon."
"Actually, there was just this one kind of awkward moment [at President Trump's inauguration] — when [Cardinal Timothy Dolan] talked about the infallible, almighty, supreme being, the president stood up and took a bow."
"Steve Bannon said I was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation. This is amazing, no one knew Steve believed in science."
"As a practicing Catholic, I believe in miracles. In fact, I have actually seen miracles. In 2015, I saw Joe Biden give a 2-minutes speech. In 2012, and there were three witnesses who saw this, I saw Mitt Romney, with a hair out of place."
On the investigation into Russian-bought social media ads: "When people ask me if I believe everything I see on Facebook, I answer, 'Nyet.'"
"You know, this is really our favorite time of the year...We've got deer season. The leaves are changing. The beaches are empty, or as Chris Christie calls them, perfect."