A day after dismissing President Donald Trump’s charge that the FBI had spied on his campaign, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday that he had seen no evidence that members of the Trump Campaign joined in Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
“Let’s just make that really clear,” the Speaker said at his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol. “There’s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did, and making sure they don’t do it again.”
Earlier in the day, President Trump had again gone on Twitter to express his frustration and displeasure with the Russia probe, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, once more calling it a “Witch Hunt Hoax.”
Democrats scoffed at Ryan’s declaration, arguing the investigation isn’t complete or public.
“There is no Mueller report yet, so he doesn’t know this at all,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The Speaker on Thursday also chided the Department of Justice and the FBI for making it difficult to see documents about the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, as he faced public complaints from more conservative Republicans in the House, angered by Ryan saying on Wednesday that there was no FBI misconduct in the Trump-Russia probe.
“There is no defense today for Paul Ryan siding with the FBI and the Department of Justice, and against those of us in the Congress who are working for transparency and accountability,” about the Russia probe, said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
“He was defending the FBI, and that’s deeply frustrating to me,” Gaetz said in an interview on the Fox Business network, as he labeled his own party’s Speaker a defender of the “Deep State.”
Justice Department officials have scheduled another briefing on the Russia investigation next week for the Speaker and other top lawmakers, known as the ‘Gang of Eight,’ who are presented with highly confidential intelligence information not given to rank and file members of the House and Senate.