MSNBC’s John Heilemann: Ryan no longer on 'Team USA' but on 'Team Nunes'
© Greg Nash

MSNBC's John Heilemann said Thursday that House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTwitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-Wis.) is no longer on "Team USA" but on "Team Nunes" for his support for the release of a classified intelligence memo on possible surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department. 

"It has clarified the extent to which Paul Ryan is now no longer on ‘Team USA’ or on even ‘Team old Republican party,'” Heilemann said during a panel discussion. “He is on ‘Team Nunes,' which means he is on ‘Team Trump’ which means, to some extent, they are all advancing, in some sense, the interests of Russia." 

Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, commissioned the GOP-written memo that is said to detail the improper use of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for the FBI to tap into Trump campaign advisers' communications. 

Ryan said Thursday that the memo, hailed by some conservative congressmen as evidence that the FBI was biased against Trump, "is not an indictment" on the institutions or the justice system, and that the memo "does not impugn" the top investigator on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 


Heilemann, a national security analyst for the network who said this week Nunes has been "compromised" by the Russians, added that Ryan was "utterly supine" in his defense of releasing the memo to the public. 

Ryan defended the release of the memo as a necessary step for oversight on a "very unique law," saying that it is "Congress’s legitimate function of oversight to make sure the FISA process is being used correctly." 

"This is what Russia wants here. I continue to be baffled by Ryan’s behavior," said Heilemann. By endorsing the release of the memo, he said, Ryan was playing into what he said was the Republican effort to disregard the Russia probe. 

The Speaker has also spurned calls by top Democrats in Congress for him to remove Nunes from committee leadership.