House Speaker Paul Ryan defended President Donald Trump’s interactions with fired FBI Director James Comey during a press conference Thursday, as a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with Comey continued just across Capitol Hill.
Ryan told reporters that Comey’s testimony revealed why Trump continually insisted that he was not personally under investigation by the FBI.
“He’s new at government, so therefore I think he’s learning as he goes,” Ryan said. “And you now know why he’s frustrated, because he was told [by Comey] ‘nothing is wrong here’ and he wants to get things done for the American people.”
Comey told the Senate that he did tell Trump he was not the subject of the counter-intelligence investigation. But he said he believed Trump was ordering him to cease an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials.
Trump’s request to drop the Flynn investigation has been painted by experts as a potential violation of the political independence that is supposed to exist between the White House and the FBI.
Ryan said Trump’s continued insistence to drop the investigation was due to his inexperience.
“Of course there needs to be a degree of independence between [the Department of Justice], FBI, and the White House, but a line of communication needs to be established,” Ryan said. “The president is new at this, he’s new to government, so he’s not steeped in the long-running protocols that’s established between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”
When asked if Republicans would be seeking impeachment in similar circumstances under a Democratic president, the House speaker said that “was not the case.”
Ryan was also asked about his thoughts about Comey’s suggestions that the White House and Trump lied about aspects of his firing, and that the conversations were a big deal.
“I think there’s going to be a ‘he said, he said’ thing on this and I don’t have comment on it,” Ryan said.
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