House GOP leaders blame media for Mueller storm

Greg Nash

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed frustration at the media on Tuesday after reporters asked four questions about the possibility President Trump may fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the FBI’s Russia investigation.

At their leadership news conference, the two top House GOP leaders dismissed chatter of Mueller’s potential termination as “rumors” generated by the media.

As the Speaker fielded his third question on the Russia-Mueller matter — reporter Lisa Mascaro had asked if Ryan personally had advised Trump not to ax Mueller — Ryan and McCarthy decided they had had enough.

“There’s no debate that’s going on here,” Ryan said.

{mosads}“You’re creating a debate that’s not happening,” McCarthy interjected off microphone from the sidelines of the news conference.

“I heard this is like a rumor that we heard last night, not some big debate that is occurring,” Ryan added.

Mascaro, who writes for the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune, asked if Congress will be overhauling the law that allows for the appointment of special counsels or prosecutors.

“You’re creating, Kevin just said it, you’re creating a debate that is not occurring here,” Ryan replied. “This is something that I think was a rumor that came out last night.”

Then, McCarthy again jumped in: “We’re focusing on [Veterans Affairs reform] and healthcare, and you’re creating a rumor.”

Tuesday’s show of frustration was the latest example of the Russia saga stepping on GOP leadership’s legislative agenda. In addition to chatter of Mueller’s possible ouster, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, were testifying about the Russia probe, creating another media circus on Capitol Hill.

Rosenstein told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he’s seen no reason why Mueller should be fired.

But two Republicans who recently spoke with Trump have discussed Mueller’s possible termination. Christopher Ruddy, a Trump confidant who runs the conservative site NewsMax, said Tuesday on CNN that Trump is mulling over his options “because Mueller is illegitimate as special counsel.”

And former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) this week questioned Mueller’s fairness and independence and said it’s “time to rethink” his role.

Earlier in the news conference, a reporter from The Hill asked Ryan if it was wise for Republicans like Gingrich to be debating whether to fire Mueller, who is probing the Russian government’s meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion involving the Trump campaign.

Ryan replied that Trump should allow the Mueller probe to move forward.

“All I’ve heard so far are rumors. The best case for the president is to be vindicated by allowing this investigation to go on thoroughly and independently,” Ryan said. “So I think the best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job.”

“Do you continue to stand by this president” and his actions? Fox News’s Chad Pergram followed up.  

Ryan repeated his talking points: “I think the best thing to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job. I think the best vindication for the president is to let this investigation go on independent and thoroughly. That to me is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do, hopefully it will happen.”

Asked if he has complete confidence in Mueller and his team, Ryan replied: “Yeah, I don’t know his team. I know Bob Mueller and I have confidence in Bob Mueller.”

Tags Jeff Sessions Paul Ryan

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