Today at a GOP press conference Speaker of this House Paul Ryan (R-WI), when faced with a question that he didn’t enjoy, initially deflected and answered a question that was not asked, something politicians call ‘pivoting’, and then, once the reporter still wouldn’t drop the question, Ryan only walked away, leaving the press conference. The question, from CNN’s Manu Raju, was concerning the Nunes memo, which Ryan had stated has nothing to do with the Mueller investigation, but President Trump has claimed completely vindicates him (Trump) in Mueller’s investigation.
Manu began the question to Ryan, saying, “Last week, you made the case that the Nunes memo was separate from the Mueller investigation.” Ryan then interjected, “I continue to say that.” Raju, undeterred, finished his question, saying, “And yet over the weekend, the president claimed “total vindication’ from the Nunes memo. Was he vindicated in any way?”
Ryan obviously did not want to answer this question, so, avoiding the question, instead Ryan said, “This is about FISA abuse. And this is about holding our government accountable. And this is about Congress doing its job in conducting oversight over the Executive Branch, which in this particular case, has been great power over us as citizens. We need to make sure that power is used correctly.”
Then, as Raju again asked Ryan if Trump was ‘vindicated’ in any way, Ryan abruptly left the podium, and the news conference, muttering an obligatory “Thank you” under his breath.
Here is a video from CNN of the media conference. As you can see, just about a moment elapses before Ryan just abruptly hurries away.
This tweet from Think Progress reporter Aaron Rupar shows only the exchange between CNN reporter Manu Raju, with Ryan appearing displeased in the question of whether Trump is right that the Nunes memo ‘vindicates’ Trump, trying not to answer it, and then walking off in a huff if Raju doesn’t give up on the question. Rupar’s article has a figurative description of the exchange — the video includes the exact words spoken by Raju and Ryan.
REPORTER: Speaker Ryan, you said the Nunes memo had nothing to do with Mueller probe.
REPORTER: But Trump said the memo is 'complete vindication' for him. Why would the president say that if they are in fact unrelated?
RYAN: Look, let's change the topic. pic.twitter.com/34sVkPsOPn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 6, 2018
Indeed President Trump did claim, in writing, that the Nunes memo vindicates him in the Russia probe. No one else, except for Trump family members like Donald Trump, Jr., seems to agree with Trump’s assessment, however. Trump said of the Nunes memo “This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in the probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and one. Their (sic) was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!” Note that this tweet shows the same chaotic thought process, and lack of proofreading, that appears in many of Trump’s tweets.
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
The tweet also repeats many of Trump’s favorite points – using the term “witch hunt”, referring to himself in the third person, putting his own name in quotation marks, saying there was “no collusion” for the umpteenth time, claiming the investigation has found nothing (not true) – and adds a new factually inaccurate statement, namely that the Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him, when it does not. Even Paul Ryan is apparently unwilling to repeat that false claim on Trump’s behalf.
Paul Ryan is between a rock and a hard spot, where he can’t back up Trump’s promise of complete vindication in the memo, because that is clearly untrue, and he can’t say that the memo doesn’t vindicate Trump, since stating that could likely alienate and infuriate President Trump. No sympathies for Paul Ryan over his plight, but since he put himself in that position by blindly advocating many Trump policies, statements, and behaviors that were being irrational. No matter how much of a Trump lap dog Ryan has been, even Ryan realizes it wouldn’t be in his best interests to agree publicly with Trump’s false claim of complete vindication. Not knowing what to do, Ryan instead fled the query. How mature.