WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said it’s “obviously” inappropriate for President Donald Trump to have asked ousted FBI Director James Comey to pledge his loyalty.
When asked by MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday whether the request was appropriate, the Wisconsin Republican answered: “I mean, obviously I don’t think that is. I think Director Comey will probably get a lot of questions about that tomorrow, will be my guess.”
Ryan was responding to claims made by Comey in his opening statement, which was released one day ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
In it, the former FBI official — who was leading the probe into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election — wrote that Trump told him “I expect loyalty.” Comey said the President also asked him to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and publicly declare that Trump was not under investigation.
“FBI directors are supposed to be independent,” Ryan said of the Trump-Comey interactions. “That’s something that’s very, very critical.”
Trump announced on Twitter his plans to nominate Christopher A. Wray, the former assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, to be the next FBI director.
“Wray … seems to fit the bill for an independent prosecutor career professional type,” Ryan said. “Because we typically look for someone who is going to be independent, but also that that position is treated independently.”
The Republican lawmaker added that it’s clear Russia meddled in the US election.
“What we need to determine is not whether they did it — we know that,” Ryan said. “It’s what did they do, how did they do it, how do we prevent it from happening again? And then how do we help our allies so that this doesn’t happen to them?”