Ryan: Nunes Memo 'Completely Separate' from Mueller Probe, Which Should 'Take Its Course'
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) emphasized today that the House Intelligence Committee majority's memo alleging FISA violations is a "completely separate matter from Bob Mueller's investigation, and his investigation should be allowed to take its course."
The GOP memo, prepared by staff of Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), reportedly alleges that the FBI used the Steele dossier to renew FISA monitoring of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without letting the judge who signed off on the order know that the Clinton campaign paid for the latter half of Fusion GPS' investigation with former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that some of the details in the Steele dossier have been corroborated as true, while other details have not been corroborated or disproven. The dossier said Page, who has admitted to traveling to Russia during the presidential campaign but said it was for personal reasons, met with Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft during his Trump campaign tenure.
The House Intelligence Committee voted Monday along party lines to release the memo, sending it to the White House for a five-day review in which the administration can choose to stop publication for national security reasons.
Ryan said outside a closed caucus meeting on Capitol Hill today that he believes "there are legitimate questions about whether an American's civil liberties were violated by the FISA process."
"We are the legislative branch of government. It is our job to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people on the executive branch, in case any powers were abused and civil liberties were abused by the executive branch. So there's a very legitimate issue here as to whether or not an American's civil liberties were violated in the -- in the FISA process. That's point number one," he said.
Point number two was Ryan's statement about the memo not being connected to the special counsel probe.
"Point number three: There may have been malfeasance by people at the FBI by certain individuals," he continued. "So it is our job, in conducting transparent oversight of the executive branch, to get to the bottom of that. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. And so, what we want is all of this information to come out so that transparency can reign supreme and accountability can occur."
Ryan added a fourth point, "and that is the institution of the DOJ, of the FBI is a very important institution for American life -- it is a very important institution for keeping the rule of law intact."
"The men and women -- the vast number of the men and women over at DOJ, over at FBI are professionals doing their jobs and doing their jobs well. The people over in the field office in Milwaukee, in the FBI office are helping keeping heroin and opioids out of our schools," he said. "So we want the people of the FBI to know that we respect their job, we respect who they are and what they do. And all the more reason why we need to have transparency and accountability to hold people accountable if they violated the rules, if they acted in a wrong, improper way. And that is what we're doing here."
Ryan said he thinks Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who may be targeted in the Nunes staff memo, has done "a fine job."
Asked if Trump should fire Rosenstein, Ryan replied, "I have no reason to see why he should do that."
"Rod Rosenstein was hired after this last election," he said. "I think the people at the FBI, at the DOJ need to clean their own house if there are problems in their own house and I think that's really important. And just -- he came in after this last election."