You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Paul Ryan’s response to the Comey letter helps explain how we got in this mess in the first place.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

On Wednesday, Sports Authority floor salesman and notable Trump voter Paul Ryan claimed that he was the only person in the country who had made sense of James Comey’s decision to intrude into the election last Friday. “I understand why he did what he did,” he said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “Because imagine if he didn’t and we found out after the fact that he was sitting on this before the election. So I clearly understand why he did what he did.” Ryan also warned that Comey would have to release information immediately if the FBI uncovered a “smoking gun.”

“And she and Republicans are saying, if you’ve got something, you’ve got clear—put it out there,” he continued. “So yeah, I think if he’s gone through the process that he needs to go through to vet evidence and he’s got it, he should do it. I do agree with that. More disclosure is better, clearly.”

Ryan is signaling a lot here. For one thing, he’s flexing at Comey to try to get him to keep intruding—if he doesn’t, the subtext is that Ryan and House Republicans will pounce. But the greater significance here is that Ryan unwittingly provides the clearest rationale we have for why Comey decided to intrude in the first place. Ryan is basically saying that House Republicans would’ve gone ballistic if they found out about the Weiner emails after the election—in other words, Comey was probably trying to placate a Republican establishment with an aggressive appetite for amplifying pseudo-scandals.

If this is true, it is extremely troubling because it suggests that a radicalized GOP is dictating the FBI’s public statements. If Clinton is elected, this is a very bad precedent, since the appetite for scandals like this is only going to increase.