Ryan ‘Not Saying It’s An Acceptable Excuse’ That Trump Is ‘New At This’

Bill Clark/CQPHO

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained fired FBI Director James Comey’s claim that President Donald Trump asked him to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by saying that “The President’s new at this.”

“He’s new to government. And so, he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan said, asked about Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee at his weekly press conference Thursday.

“You said the President is new at this, he’s not steeped in the long-running protocols,” one reporter followed up later in the briefing. “He has a staff. He has a White House counsel. Why is that an acceptable excuse for him?”

“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan said.

“So there’s nothing — is this something that should be corrected?” the reporter asked.

“He’s new at government, and so therefore I think that he — he is learning as he goes,” Ryan responded.

Repeatedly, Ryan said that he now knew why Trump was “frustrated” by stories on Russian meddling.

Still, when pressed, he wouldn’t definitively say whether Trump’s behavior was appropriate.

“I’m not going to comment on these things,” he said, asked for his opinion on the matter. “Because these are all apart of these ongoing investigations and I’m not gonna prejudge this stuff, because what I don’t want to do is — in the middle of a House Intelligence Committee investigation, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and now an independent counsel — is to speculate on the day-to-day intrigue of all of these issues.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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