John Heilemann has some choice words about the House Speakers endorsement of intel chair Devin Nunes crusade against the FBI.
As the sordid saga of House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and his anti-FBI memo continues to unfold, the ignominy is no longer just his, but also of his biggest protector and endorser in Congress: House Speaker Paul Ryan.
And longtime national affairs correspondent John Heilemann is completely disgusted.
On Thursday's edition of "Deadline White House" on MSNBC, Heilemann railed against Ryan after conservative analyst Bill Kristol pointed out that Nunes' phony memo has totally muddied the waters and may leave the groundwork for Trump firing [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein.
Ive said this now multiple times this week and Ill say it again, said Heilemann. It has clarified the extent to which Paul Ryan is now no longer on Team USA or on even Team Old Republican Party. He is on Team Nunes, which means hes on Team Trump, which means to some extent theyre all theyre advancing, in some sense, the interests of Russia. This is this is what Russia wants here.
We now have a clear signal that Ryan is utterly supine, and hes backed Nunes, hes saying to the extent that Nunes is saying we dont care about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, what were going to do is investigate the FBI, he said. Ryan has come out and endorsed that view. And I find that utterly stunning.
Paul Ryan has behaved poorly over the course of the last year. But this I did not think he would end up in this position, Heilemann concluded. It has huge implications for the future, too.
Nunes was forced to sort-of recuse himself from the House Russia probe and submit to an ethics investigation after allegedly going rogue and sharing information from his own probe with Trump. He has since weaponized his committee to incessantly attack the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller, to the point that he is concealing from his own committee members what they are voting to let him do.
But Ryan refuses to hear a word against Nunes. He has for months insisted he has full confidence in Nunes investigations, and says Nunes should be allowed to release his anti-FBI hit job. In response to Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer demanding Nunes be removed from the committee, Ryan said they are just playing politics, that Nunes is just keeping our country safe, and look, the tax cuts are working.
Heilemann is not alone in criticizing Ryan's complicity. The Washington Post editorial board slammed Ryan for giving Nunes free reign in a new op-ed published Thursday night.
Mr. Ryan bears full responsibility for the deterioration of congressional oversight of intelligence operations, the editorial board writes. Once a bipartisan responsibility that lawmakers treated soberly as they still do in the Senate oversight under Mr. Nunes has become another front in Mr. Trumps assault on the law enforcement institutions investigating the president and his associates. House Republicans are poisoning the committees relationship with the intelligence community and distracting from real issues demanding attention.
At some point we must go beyond asking why Nunes is intent both on destroying congressional investigative legitimacy and besmirching the integrity of federal law enforcement, and start asking why Ryan is giving him free reign to do so.