WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Capitol Hill today that he’s not moving forward with a bipartisan legislative effort to protect the special counsel because private conversations with President Trump have led him to believe Robert Mueller’s investigation isn’t in danger.
“It’s completely unnecessary… because I don’t think he’s going to fire him,” Ryan said.
“I don’t think he should. I don’t think it’s in his interests to do so. I’ve answered this question pretty much every week. We do not believe that he should be fired, we do not believe that he will be fired. And we therefore don’t think that that is necessary,” he added.
Asked why he’s confident about that prediction, Ryan said it’s based on “the kinds of conversations we’ve had.”
“It would be not in the president’s interests to do such a thing, and I think he knows that,” he said, noting when pressed further that “I’ll leave our conversations to the private nature that they are.”
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told CBS on Sunday that consequences for those who aid Bashar al-Assad in his chemical weapons programs would “absolutely” be applied.
“You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn’t already,” Haley said. “And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used.”
The Washington Post reported that Trump was displeased with Haley’s announcement and told national security advisers he was “upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them.”
Furthermore, the administration reportedly contacted the Russian Embassy after Haley’s statement to assure them that new sanctions weren’t actually being rolled out.
The White House pushed back on that Monday, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters “we’re continuing to evaluate a number of sanctions.”
Asked to react, Ryan said, “I won’t get into what sanctions should be applied, other than that we obviously should be applying Russian sanctions. We’ve been applying Russian sanctions in multiple ways this year.”
On the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the rollback of the sanctions announcement “devastating.”
“The White House shouldn’t have to drag the president kicking and screaming to do the right thing when it comes to punishing Vladimir Putin and Russia. His refusal to stand up to the Kremlin is troubling and leaves many Americans wondering why, and what does the president have to hide?” Schumer said. “That’s what 90 percent of all Americans are asking themselves, Democrat and Republican, liberal, conservative, and his actions with Putin have been so confounding and so contrary to American interests, there’s virtually no rational explanation for it.”