Paul Ryan rejects calls for special prosecutor in Russia investigation

Paul Ryan rejects calls for special prosecutor in Russia investigation
© Greg Nash

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday rejected calls for an independent commission and special prosecutor to handle ongoing investigations into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying doing so could "compromise" U.S. intelligence gathering. 

"I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think, first of all, we have three investigations going on right now," Ryan said on Fox News. "We have a House investigation by our Intelligence Committee, which is the appropriate to do that, I believe. And we have a Senate Intelligence Committee ... doing an investigation. And you have the FBI investigating all things Russia.

"I think the intelligence committees are the ones that should do this, because, don’t forget that the methods and sources of our intelligence gathering are also at play here, and we have to be very sensitive so that we don’t compromise that information as well."

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In the wake of President Trump's abrupt decision to fire FBI Director James Comey Tuesday night, Democratic lawmakers, joined by some Republicans, amped up calls for a independent commission to probe Trump and his associates' ties with Moscow. 

But several Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.), dismissed the notion as unnecessary and defended the president's actions. Comey, they argued, had lost the confidence of the Trump administration, and the president was well within his rights to fire him.

"I do think that Director Comey was compromised," Ryan said. "Clearly his superiors in the Justice Department felt that way, and the president made a presidential decision and removed him."

But Comey's sudden ouster has raised suspicion among some Democratic lawmakers, who have openly questioned whether it was the FBI's investigation into Trump's associates that prompted his termination. 

The firing also appears to be an abrupt change of heart for the Trump administration. Comey, who was appointed by former President Obama, was asked to stay on as the FBI's director after Trump took office in January. And just last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump remained confident in Comey's ability to lead the bureau.