Following former FBI Director James Comey’s bombshell written testimony — which will see a live-action rendition for the Senate on Thursday — House Speaker Paul Ryan made his feelings clear. Specifically, Ryan commented upon Trump’s “loyalty” request that involved the president and Comey staring at each other in awkward silence. Comey has reportedly opted not to say (outright) that Trump obstructed justice, but Trump requesting that the FBI kill an investigation carries a whiff of the offense. Ryan knows better than to side with Trump at the moment, and here’s what he said when MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren asked whether Trump’s loyalty request was appropriate:
“Obviously, I don’t think that it is. Director Comey will probably get a lot of questions about that tomorrow, would be my guess. But I don’t think that that’s new, that’s already been reported. I think that was something that was in the New York Times, gosh, a month or two ago … it’s not different in substance [than with anonymous sources], but it’s different in that we’re hearing it straight from the director himself. And yes, FBI directors are supposed to be independent. That’s something that’s very, very critical.”
Indeed, it’s clear that Trump did not view Comey as an independent entity. Even without the inappropriate nature of what Comey claims happened, the sheer frequency of Trump’s contact with him is unusual. For reference’s sake, Comey relayed in his written testimony that he had only spoken twice to Obama between his 2013 appointment and early 2017 (and one time was to say goodbye). Whereas Trump had nine one-on-one talks with Comey within a few months. And Comey clearly felt uncomfortable around Trump — to the point where he tried to hide from him and asked Jeff Sessions not to leave them alone together.
Will Ryan will continue to disapprove of Trump’s smothering of the FBI director with improper requests? We should find out soon, depending on how Thursday’s hearing goes.