House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been unusually silent over the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, but when he shared his views late Wednesday on Fox News, he stood by President Trump's decision.
Ryan acknowledged the dismissal "was no small thing," but he joined others in the party who have split from those more troubled by the abrupt firing, which stunned Washington amid the investigation of the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The speaker joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in brushing back calls for an independent investigation, saying the ongoing congressional and federal reviews were sufficient.
"I think the truth is James Comey, who is a worthwhile and dedicated public servant, I think he had just basically lost the confidence of a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats based upon his conduct, his actions, and some of the comments that he made," Ryan said. "Most importantly, he lost the confidence of the president, and it is entirely within the president's role and authority to relieve him, and that's what he did." [Emphasis added.]Well, of course he lost the confidence of the president! He was investigating the president for potentially serious crimes, possibly even treason against the United States. Archibald Cox lost Richard Nixon's confidence for similar reasons.
Yes, it's true that the circumstances here are not exactly the same as the Saturday Night Massacre. History never repeats itself exactly. (For one thing, Richard Nixon was never suspected of treason.) But the circumstantial evidence that Trump fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation is pretty overwhelming. Whether Trump colluded with the Russians or not, that anyone, Republican or Democrat, would support the president in firing the FBI director to squash an active investigation into the president himself is a threat to democracy and the rule of law.
History is watching you, Mr. Speaker.