House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, both Republicans, broke with President Donald Trump on Wednesday over allegations spies infiltrated his 2016 campaign, saying they agree with GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy that the FBI did “exactly” what it should have done over its handling of a confidential source.
The declarations by the leading Republicans are the latest indications that Trump lacks any evidence to back up his claims of a major political scandal he calls “spygate” — since those lawmakers were among a select group briefed on the classified intelligence at issue. The only Republican briefed on the intelligence who has yet to break from Trump is Rep. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence chairman who has demanded more documents as part of his investigation.
“I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment’s accurate, I think, but we have some more digging to do. We’re waiting for some more document requests,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “It would have been helpful if we got this information earlier.”
“I think that Trey Gowdy’s description of the process was correct,” Burr said
Officials briefed Ryan, Gowdy and other congressional leaders last month on the FBI’s use of a confidential source that interacted with Trump’s campaign two years ago as the Department of Justice investigated Russian meddling.
The briefings came after House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes demanded more information about the source — a push that has prompted Trump to publicly speculate whether the FBI infiltrated his campaign. Nunes declined to comment Wednesday.
Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee who is retiring at the end of his congressional term, concluded last week after attending a classified briefing that the FBI acted appropriately in the probe.
“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, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said in an interview on Fox News.
On Wednesday, Ryan said he agreed with Gowdy but still wanted more information.
“As Chairman Nunes said just the other day, if we got all the information we’re looking for, we could wrap this up faster. But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of, of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made,” he said. “But I want to make sure that we run every lead down and make sure we get final answers to these questions.”
Ryan was also asked whether he believes the President is able to pardon himself, after Trump tweeted Monday that he has the “absolute right” to do so, though he added he’s done nothing wrong as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation.
“I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t,” Ryan said. “No one is above the law.”