House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday sided with his GOP colleagues who voted to release the reportedly anti-FBI memo Monday evening, saying the memo should be released for transparency’s sake and claiming “there maybe have been malfeasance at the FBI.”
“There may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals, so it is our job in conducting transparent oversight of the executive branch to get to the bottom of that,” Ryan told reporters during a press conference Tuesday morning. “What we want is all of this information to come out, so that transparency can reign supreme and accountability can occur.”
Ryan also warned that allegations contained in the the memo should be kept separate from the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Ryan called Robert Mueller’s investigation “a completely separate matter” that “should be allowed to take its course.”
On Monday evening, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted in favor of releasing the memo. Trump now has five days to review the document and decide whether to make it public. The memo was crafted by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) staff and allegedly proves Republicans’ claims of the Justice Department’s bias against Trump. FBI Director Chris Wray reportedly asked the House Intelligence Committee for the chance to come before them and express his concerns about releasing the classified memo.
Democrats have called the memo a “conspiracy theory” propagated by Russian bots and authored a counter memo to debunk some of the claims. That memo is still going through the approval process for its release, Ryan said Tuesday.
Ryan told reporters that there are “legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated with the FISA process.” The Speaker was referencing reports from The New York Times that the memo purports to show that officials at the FBI misled the FISA court when asking for approval to surveil former President Trump campaign aide Carter Page, whom the FBI believed may have been a Russian foreign agent at the time.
The memo reportedly claims the agency’s officials failed to clarify that one of the FBI’s sources, Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier, was paid to conduct opposition research by the Democrats. The memo also claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave the FBI the green light to surveil Page.
Ryan said he believes that Rosenstein is “doing a fine job,” despite reports that Trump was considering firing the deputy attorney general. He also clarified that the Department of Justice and the FBI are both “very important institution(s) for American life.”
“We want the people of the FBI to know that we respect their job, we respect who they are and what they do,” he said. “And all of the more reason why we need to have transparency and accountability to hold people accountable if they violated the rules, if they acted in a wrong improper way. And that is what we’re doing here.”