Ryan on FBI independence: Trump ‘new at this’

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) suggested on Thursday that President Trump’s alleged pressuring of former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn could stem from a lack of government experience.

Ryan’s comments came during a Capitol press conference as Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his interactions with Trump.

According to Comey's account of a meeting with Trump, the president asked other people to leave the room after a meeting, then pressured Comey to drop the FBI’s probe into Flynn.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Of course, there needs to be a degree of independence between [the Department of Justice], FBI and the White House, and a line of communication’s established,” Ryan told reporters. 

“The president’s new at this. He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, the FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this.”

Another reporter later pressed Ryan on why inexperience is an “acceptable excuse” for Trump’s behavior.

“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan replied. “He’s new at government and so, therefore, I think that he’s learning as he goes.”

The night before, Ryan told MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren that it was "obviously" inappropriate for Trump to ask for Comey's loyalty.

Ryan dismissed the notion that a Republican-controlled Congress would call for impeachment of a Democratic president accused of the same actions as Trump. 

“No. I don’t think we would, actually. I don’t think that’s at all the case,” Ryan said.