The most senior elected US Republican official, Paul Ryan, has said he will not defend Donald Trump, after remarks he made about groping women led to outrage.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to focus on defending seats in Congress, but did not end his endorsement of the party’s nominee.
Mr Trump tweeted that Mr Ryan should not waste his time fighting him.
Earlier Democratic rival Hillary Clinton cast doubt on Mr Trump’s apology for the 11-year-old remarks.
On Sunday, Mr Trump described his words as “locker-room talk”.
In a bitter televised debate, a month before the US presidential election, Mr Trump denied he had groped anyone.
Mrs Clinton tweeted on Monday that, if he stood by this assertion, he was “clearly not sorry”.
A 2005 video released on Friday revealed Mr Trump describing how he had sought to have sex with a married woman and making obscene comments about women.
Walking a fine line, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News
Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican officeholder, has officially given the signal. The SS Trump is sinking, and it’s time for members of his party to calmly, quietly head to the lifeboats.
Republican control of Congress must be maintained at all costs, the House speaker asserted in his call to congressional rank-and-file on Monday, lest Hillary Clinton have the ability to advance her party’s legislative priorities and seat sympathetic Supreme Court justices without opposition.
It’s notable that after reports he was mulling a full unendorsement of the Republican nominee, Mr Ryan is apparently trying to a walk a fine line between abandonment and loyalty to his putative standard-bearer. His decision evokes shades of 1996, when Republican nominee Bob Dole’s doomed presidential campaign rolled along, oblivious to a party apparatus that was focusing exclusively on local races.
It’s worth keeping in mind that while Mr Ryan is sounding the abandon-ship alarm, Donald Trump may not play the stoic captain watching from the bridge. He’s shown no loyalty to a Republican establishment that never truly embraced him and may have no qualms with lashing out at erstwhile friend and foe alike in the campaign’s final, turbulent days.