Ryan on Trump Controversies: ‘There’s Clearly a Lot of Politics Being Played’

Susan Jones | May 17, 2017 | 10:54am EDT
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) holds a news conference amid swirling White House controversies on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) – “There’s been a lot of reporting lately that requires close examination,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told a news conference on Wednesday.

“We can’t deal with speculation and innuendo. And there’s clearly a lot of politics being played. Our job is to get the facts and to be sober about doing that.”

Ryan warned against a rush to judgement: “It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president. But we have an obligation to carry out our oversight, regardless of which party’s in the White House."

Ryan noted that two congressional investigations are going on right now, in the House and Senate intelligence committees; the FBI continues its own investigation; and now the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has “appropriately” requested former FBI Director James Comey’s notes on his conversation with President Trump.

“And I’m sure we’re going to go on to hear from Mr. Comey about why, if this happened as he allegedly describes, why didn’t he take action at the time? So there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Ryan said.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that President Trump asked Comey in February to drop the federal investigation of Michael Flynn, who had just been fired as national security adviser.

Comey reportedly wrote a memo about that conversation immediately after it happened, as part of a “paper trail” he created to document “what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation,” the newspaper said. It appears that no one outside the FBI has seen Comey’s notes, which were read in part to a New York Times reporter.

Ryan said he’s most concerned about Republicans doing what they were elected to do, which is to solve peoples’s problems.

“I think people in America turn on the TV, and they think this is all that’s happening, this is all we’re doing, this is all we’re discussing. That’s just not the case," he said.

“I want the American people to know that we’re busy, hard at work, fixing their problems. You just heard from the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee talking about moving down the path of getting comprehensive tax reform done, because we know that’s really important to unlocking economic growth and competitiveness for American companies.

“The point I want to make here is…we’re going to keep doing our jobs, we’re going to keep passing our bills, we’re going to keep advancing our reforms that we were elected to advance while we do all these other things that are within our responsibility.”

Ryan said that’s how Republicans will be judged in 2018:  “Did we make people’s lives better, did we solve problems, did we fix the problems that people are confronting in their daily lives? That, to me, is what matters most and that is how we will be judged.”

“So a lot of work is being done,” Ryan said. And we’re not going to be trying to play to the crowd or meet timelines.”

‘GOP legislative agenda all but gone’

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House intelligence committee, said the Republican legislative agenda “is lying in ruins on the floor of this building.”

“It was tenuous when they got through their so-called health care bill in the House.  You can still see blood on the floor here for what it cost them to get that through the House,” Himes told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in an interview from the U.S. Capitol.

“Now, you know, things like tax reform , which is, you know, very, very difficult in the best of times -- with that cloud, with this cloud, hanging over this building, that legislative agenda is all but gone.”

But at their news conference on Wednesday, Republicans House leaders announced a “major hearing” on tax reform later this week.

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