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Ryan: FBI director should be independent, Trump ‘new to this’

The Hill logo The Hill 6/8/2017 Cristina Marcos

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Video by The Associated Press

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) suggested on Thursday that President Trump's alleged pressuring of former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn may stem from a lack of government experience.

Ryan's comments came during a Capitol press conference while Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his interactions with Trump.

According to Comey, Trump asked for his loyalty over an uncomfortable one-on-one dinner at the White House and pulled him aside to urge him to drop the FBI's probe into Flynn.

"Of course there needs to be a degree of independence between (the Department of Justice), FBI, and the White House and a line of communication's established," Ryan told reporters.

"The president's new at this. He's new to government. So he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, the FBI and White Houses. He's just new to this."

AP APTOPIX TRUMP FBI COMEY A USA VA: Comey walks at his home in McLean, Va., on May 10, 2017, a day after being fired by President Trump. Former FBI director James Comey: A look at his career

Slideshow by USA Today

Another reporter later pressed Ryan on why inexperience is an "acceptable excuse" for Trump's behavior.

"I'm not saying it's an acceptable excuse. It's just my observation," Ryan replied. "He's new at government and so therefore I think that he's learning as he goes."

The night before, Ryan told NBC News' Greta Van Susteren that it was "obviously" inappropriate for Trump to ask for Comey's loyalty.

Ryan dismissed the notion that a Republican-controlled Congress would call for impeachment of a Democratic president accused of the same actions as Trump.

"No. I don't think we would, actually. I don't think that's at all the case," Ryan said.

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