After receiving a classified briefing late last month at the Department of Justice, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he agrees with his fellow Republican, Rep. Trey Gowdy, in his assessment that it was fully proper for the FBI to deploy an informant to communicate with Trump campaign advisors – although Ryan cautioned he wants to ensure every lead is investigated.
“Normally I don't like to comment on classified briefings. Let me say it this way. I think Chairman Gowdy's initial assessment is accurate,” Ryan said. “But we have some more digging to do. We're waiting for some more document requests, we have some more documents to review. We still have someone to answer questions.”
Gowdy, from South Carolina, and the House Oversight Committee chairman, said last month’s briefing persuaded him the FBI’s actions were appropriate.
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got,” Gowdy said in an interview last month on Fox News. He added that the briefing also suggested that the informant had “nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
While President Trump has continued to claim the FBI planted “spies” into his campaign, Ryan said it “would have been helpful” if he had been briefed by the Department of Justice on the situation earlier, which he believes would allow lawmakers to conclude their investigation faster.
“But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made,” Ryan underscored. “But I want to make sure that we run every lead down and make sure we get final answers to these questions.”
That judgment compliments one from Democrats just after the May 24 briefing.
"Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said.
Ryan also warned President Trump not to pardon himself, as a debate rages on over the president’s constitutional powers.
Asked whether Ryan believes the president has the power to pardon himself, Ryan conceded he didn’t “know the technical answer to that question.”
Nevertheless, Ryan made clear that he doesn’t believe Trump should pardon himself.
“Obviously the answer is he shouldn't [pardon himself] and no one is above the law,” Ryan cautioned.