Ryan: Trump’s conference with Putin not treasonous
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said he did not believe President Trump’s controversial news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin amounted to treason but said it was unmistakable that the “menacing government” in Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Vladimir Putin does not share our interests; Vladimir Putin does not share our values. … [Russia] did interfere in our elections. Let me be really clear. There should be no doubt about that. It’s also clear that it did not have a material effect on our elections,” Ryan told reporters a day after Trump and Putin’s joint news conference in Helsinki rocked Washington.
“I understand a desire to have good relations, that is perfectly reasonable,” Ryan added. “But Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests. And it does not share our values and I think that should be made very very clear.”
In Monday’s news conference, Trump publicly cast doubts about the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a bid to tip the outcome in Trump’s favor.
Putin vehemently denied that Russia was involved and, in a stunning admission, Trump told reporters that he believed Putin over his own intelligence agencies, including the CIA and FBI.
Trump’s comments at the news conference have prompted outrage from Democrats and Republicans alike. President Obama’s former CIA director, John Brennan, blasted Trump’s actions as “nothing short of treasonous.”
But a day later, Ryan said he would not go that far. Asked if he agreed that Trump’s actions were treasonous, Ryan tersely replied: “I do not.”
In an earlier statement, Ryan issued a rare rebuke of the president, saying Trump needed to understand that Russia is not an ally and that there is “no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia.”
On Tuesday, Ryan said Congress may need to impose additional sanctions against Moscow given that he’s seen the U.S. intelligence relating to a dozen new indictments against Russian operatives accused of conducting cyberattacks against the U.S. in 2016.
“If the Foreign Affairs or Financial Services committees and Senate Banking Committee think that there are other sanctions [needed] that we have not placed on Russia,” Ryan said, “I am more than happy to consider those.”