House Speaker Paul Ryan demonstrated two things Thursday: popular vote loser Donald Trump is not fit to be president, and Ryan is not fit for his own job. While fired FBI Director James Comey was delivering his blistering testimony regarding the Trump/Russia investigation, including the fact that as far as Comey was concerned Trump telling him to lay off of the Mike Flynn was an order, Ryan was giving his regular press briefing. And dismissing obstruction of justice because Trump is just ignorant about what the president does and how all this works.
On Thursday, Ryan—who would rather discuss legislation than the Trump-Russia scandal—played down Comey’s ongoing explosive testimony across the Capitol.
Comey told Congress that he took notes about his conversations with Trump because he worried Trump would lie about them. Comey also said he took Trump’s request that he drop a criminal probe of Michael Flynn, his ex-National Security Adviser, as an inappropriate directive.
Ryan, while noting the investigation was ongoing, said there should always be independence between the White House and the FBI or Department of Justice. But he suggested Trump may not have known how to use the proper communications channels.
“The president’s new at this. He’s new at government,” Ryan said. “He’s not steeped in the long running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses.”
Yeah, here’s the thing. Trump knew exactly what he was doing. Let’s review the timeline. On January 24, Flynn is interviewed by the FBI about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On January 26, acting attorney general Sally Yates goes to the White House to talk about the very deep trouble Flynn could be in and to warn the administration. She returns to the White House on January 27 at the request of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, and that day White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that “the president was immediately informed of the situation.”
And at lunch time on January 27, Comey testified today, Trump called Comey to ask him to come to dinner that night. The night he asked him to declare his loyalty in a one-on-one dinner meeting. Fast-forward to February 14, the Oval Office meeting in which Comey says Trump ordered everyone out of the room, that both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner tried to linger in the room, but Trump sent them out. This is the meeting when Trump tells Comey “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
Trump sent everyone out of the room but Comey. A man who doesn’t understand that what he’s about to do is seriously problematic does not order all the witnesses out of the room. He knew very well what he was doing. The fact that Paul Ryan completely dismisses this as just Trump’s ignorance is as damning of Ryan as of Trump.