Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said Monday that he will no longer defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to US media reports.
In a conference call Monday with Republican lawmakers, Ryan also said that he had no plans of campaigning with Trump before election day on November 8, Politico reported citing sources on the call.
As speaker of the House of Representatives, Ryan is currently the most powerful Republican.
He said he will focus instead on keeping the Republican majority in the House, according to Politico, adding that a Republican Congress was needed to keep Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, in check if she wins.
After news of the phone call, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Ryan.
"Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee," Trump tweeted.
Ryan had initially hesitated to back Trump's presidential bid, but decided to endorse him in June. He did not, however, revoke that endorsement on Monday, according to Politico.
Trump came under mounting pressure to withdraw from the race on Saturday after explicit comments he made about groping women in a 2005 conversation were leaked to the media.
He was subsequently disinvited from an event in Wisconsin, where he was to have been the guest of honour alongside Ryan.
Ryan appeared at the event, referring to the firestorm over Trump's comments as the "elephant in the room," saying the previous night that he was "sickened" by Trump's vulgar comments.