Contradicting Trump, Paul Ryan agrees no evidence of campaign spy

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Ryan was asked on Wednesday by reporters at the US Capitol whether Trump can legally pardon himself, most pertinently if he ends up falling foul of the Russian Federation investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that evolved out of that early scrutiny.

"As long as we have Republicans in the leadership positions who think it's okay to have Orwellian spies spy on presidential campaigns of one party, then we have bigger problems than just the briefing".

In what the New York Times described as the GOP beginning to show "signs of resistance", on Wednesday, Paul Ryan joined the handful of Republican lawmakers standing up to President Trump's war on the rule of law - sort of. The only Republican briefed on the intelligence who has yet to break from Trump is Rep. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence chairman who has demanded more documents as part of his investigation.

"In all of this, in any of this, there's been no evidence that there's been any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia", Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference.

No court has ruled on whether a president can pardon himself, though the Department of Justice wrote in a 1974 opinion, days before former President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, that the president "cannot pardon himself". During an interview with Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) openly mused about removing Ryan from his role as House Speaker ahead of November's elections.

Officials are expected to meet early next week with the leaders of the full House and Senate and the chambers' intelligence committees - the "Gang of Eight" - a senior Justice Department official said. He went on to concede that although he does not know the "technical" answer to the question of whether a president can self-pardon, Trump "obviously" shouldn't do so.

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Democrats emerged from the highly secretive briefing saying that they had seen "no evidence to support any allegation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any intelligence agency placed a "spy" in the Trump campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols".

"But I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made", Ryan underscored.

There have already been rumblings about ousting Ryan as speaker before the end of his term, and on Wednesday conservatives incensed by Ryan's Spygate rejection pushed the discussion into the open.

DOJ officials have balked at some of the document requests from Congress out of concern that they shouldn't be sharing information about the Russian Federation investigation before it is done. "We are not going to budge". "What do you say to them?"

"It shouldn't take a Speaker of the House to have to get involved every one of these times to get the Department of Justice or any other department to comply with congressional oversight requests", Ryan complained.

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