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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan On Last Night’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum,” FBI Investigation, Budget Negotiations

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan joined me this morning:




HH: Joined now by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Honorable Paul Ryan. Speaker Ryan, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Great to have you.

PR: Hey, good morning. How’s the new gig treating you?

HH: It is terrific. I love the morning. I drafted Aaron Rodgers for my fantasy team. I hope I didn’t make a mistake.

PR: You should. No, no, no, no. He’s in good shape. I have seen him twice in practice this year up in training camp. He is doing fine. He’s in real good shape.

HH: All right, let me start with your job as a Constitutional officer. You are the protector of the House, and of actually the Article I authorities.

PR: Right.

HH: On Tuesday of this week, September 6th, the House Chairman of Oversight and Governmental Affairs, Jason Chaffetz, sent a letter to the CEO of Platte River Networks. And it referenced a March 25th, very mysterious meeting which Mr. Chaffetz says Secretary Clinton’s team, including attorneys David Kendall and Cheryl Mills, held a conference call with the Platte River Network engineer who maintained Secretary Clinton’s server. In subsequent interviews with the FBI, the PRN engineer refused to answer questions about that call, asserting either a 5th Amendment or Attorney-client privilege. The Chairman then writes, “This timeline of events raises questions as to whether the PRN engineer violated federal statutes that prohibit destruction of evidence, and obstruction of a Congressional investigation, among others, when the engineer erased Secretary Clinton’s email contrary to Congressional preservation orders and a subpoena. The sequence of events leading up to the destruction of Secretary Clinton’s emails, the conference call, the work ticket, the use of BleachBit, and PRN’s subsequent refusal to discuss a conference call with the FBI, raises questions about whether Secretary Clinton acting through her attorneys instructed PRN to destroy records relevant to the ongoing Congressional investigation.” Are you concerned, Speaker Ryan, that the House is being denied its Constitutional oversight by an FBI that is indifferent to what is obviously an obstruction of justice?

PR: Yes, and it’s not the first time we’ve experienced this. I was part of the IRS investigation in my last job here in Congress, and I would say it’s a very, very similar story. It’s a story of stonewalling. The reason we know about these things is because of our investigation, our oversight. Jason Chaffetz is doing a great job. You know all of these things that you just discussed because of our oversight. But as we do this oversight, we see more obfuscation. We see more misleading. We see that the claims that were made, you know, six months, a year ago, about servers and emails and devices are now, were false when they were made, knowingly false. So we clearly see that she’s not being truthful. We clearly see, and also with our investigations, you see the Clinton Foundation and all what I would call the pay to play, just basically the stink of corruption surrounding that. So this is not a new story, unfortunately, with the Clintons. But it’s an ongoing one, and that is, to me, very alarming. One of the things we’re doing, we’re walking and chewing gum at the same time. We’re doing our oversight to try and bring truth to power, to try and uncover these things so that people don’t live above the law. And we’re offering a better way. We’re offering an agenda of how we would fix these problems. But more fundamental, I do believe, because you said in the first part of your point, I’m the officer of the Constitution here, preserver of Article I, if you go to our Better Way Agenda, and go to, you will see that item number three and four is a specific plan to resuscitate the separation of powers, and reclaim our Article I powers of the Constitution, because the other branches of government have overstepped their boundaries. And they’re all kicking their coverage, if we’re going to go back to Aaron Rodgers and football metaphors. And we have a very specific plan for getting Article I back so that we restore the principle of self-government and an accountable government.

HH: This is vital. Now yesterday, Director Comey put out a memo to his staff saying we didn’t do a data dump on Friday, it’s all not fair.

PR: On Friday of Labor Day.

HH: Yeah, so what, have you lost confidence in Director Comey?

PR: Well, I have spoken with him, and I said before, a month or two ago, you know, you owe it to the country to release the information that you got in your investigation so that the country can see this. I expected him to release that information. But I did not, I don’t know why they thought it wouldn’t look too cute by half releasing it in the typical political data dump Friday of Labor Day. That judgment mystifies me, because it’s so clearly political in nature. That is what politicians do when they have bad news to tell that they want to get swept under the rug in order to minimize a story. They’re not, the FBI’s not supposed to be minimizing political damage of political stories. They’re supposed to be getting to the truth and holding people accountable. And so when they make things like this, it makes them look political.

HH: Let me ask you about last night’s commander-in-chief forum, Speaker Ryan. The toughest moment for both candidates came from the audience. Play cut 21. This is a former Lt. in the Navy.

HJ: Hi, Matt, I’m with Lt. John Lester, who will stand with me here.

HRC: Let me stand up here.

HJ: He began his military career by enlisting in the Air Force and then switched over to the Navy before he retired, where he few P-3 Orions in Desert Storm and in Desert Shield. He’s a Republican, and he has this question for you, Secretary Clinton.

HRC: Thank you.

JL: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for coming tonight. As a Naval flight officer, I held the top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access to materials and information highly sensitive to our war fighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned. Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are trusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?

HH: Now Speaker Ryan, she botched the answer. It was abba-dabba-dabba-dabba. But how does she answer…

RP: Wow.

HH: …losing 13 Blackberries, 2 iPads, and one laptop?

RP: I was working late last night, so I didn’t watch it. But man, that’s devastating. What an articulate guy. I don’t know how she answers this, Hugh. I honestly don’t, and I don’t think any dabba-dabba-dabba, any kind of misdirection, is going to get around that fact. And I think that’s one of the reasons why she’s such a flawed candidate, and I think it’s one of the reasons why she’s not doing so well in the polls right now. I don’t know how you get around this. I really just don’t, and you know, I’ve been around national security issues quite a bit. I’ve, in this current capacity I have, I’m deeply enmeshed in it. You know what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. It’s not that hard to figure this stuff out, how you conduct yourself with respect to classified material. And I just think she believes she’s above the law. And I think they’ve lived like that for a long, long time. And I just don’t know how you get around that.

HH: Have you ever destroyed a Blackberry with a hammer?

PR: (laughing) No. No, I never have.

HH: (laughing) Just wanted to get that on the record. A lot of what was discussed last night had to do with foreign policy. This morning on Morning Joe, Gary Johnson said what is Aleppo?

PR: (laughing)

HH: Do you think he ought to be…

PR: Well, he is an isolationist, Hugh, so let’s, you know, give him the credit of that.

HH: But I mean, should he be on the national debate stage?

PR: Oh, that’s a polling question. If he polls well enough, he should, but you know, I don’t think he’s anywhere close to that polling threshold. I don’t, what is the threshold, 15% or something like that?

HH: Yeah, it just seems to me…

PR: Yeah.

HH: In…And Hillary Clinton suggested in a televised interview in Israel that was broadcast on Israeli TV today that the Islamic State is, “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory,” and that terrorists are praying, “Please, Allah, make Trump president of America.” What do you make of that, Speaker Ryan?

PR: First of all, I think that’s profoundly wrong. I don’t think it’s right to say that. I think that you’re, that’s fearmongering. That’s demagogic scare tactics. So that’s what I’d say what that is. But I just, I don’t even know how you can credibly make the claim to begin with.

HH: So where is this campaign headed? I mean, we’ve got very serious issues. Yesterday, Donald Trump brought up the fact that the Russian SU-27 buzzed an American P-8, and all of this weakness is inviting provocation across the globe.

PR: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. I mean, yeah, Syria is a mess, and I can go on and on about that, and how Putin is not an ally of our at this present moment. But where is this going? I think you have two candidates whose unpopularity is high. I think you have Hillary Clinton, who I believe thinks she has it in the bag, or thought she had it in the bag, and therefore, basically went into four corners defense in the second quarter of the game, stalling, not talking to the press, not doing many events. And I’m sure that the political people around here are probably advising that. I think she’s playing not to lose. And when you play not to lose so early in the game, you probably end up losing. And I think that that’s what she’s doing. That’s just my own observation of this, you know, from being around this. Now Donald, I think, has gotten much more disciplined. I think Kellyanne is a breath of fresh air for his campaign, and I think she has brought some good discipline to the campaign on message. We in the House feel like we can help him by offering an agenda that complements what he’s trying to do. And it’s an agenda to restore the Constitution. It’s an agenda to rebuild our national security. It’s an agenda to get the economy going, reform the tax code, and replace Obamacare with patient-centered health care. And we think this is an agenda that we’ve laid out. Go to, and this is our 2017 agenda, and we think it perfectly complements what he’s trying to do. And we think together, we can offer the country a better path.

HH: Now I go back, Mr. Speaker…

PR: And when 70% of Americans don’t like where we’re going, I think we have a duty to offer them a better way, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

HH: When you ran on a national ticket, I mean, it was hammers thrown at each other.

PR: Oh, yeah.

HH: But did President Obama ever say that the Islamic State was rooting for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s victory?

PR: No. No, that’s why I say this thing’s degrading down to the demagogic stuff. No, no, he said it, he, I remember Mitt Romney, I mean, Barack Obama in response to our criticisms on his Syria policy drew the red line. And then after the election, he obviously failed to enforce that red line. I think it’s one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in the modern era of a United States president, which has given us a huge credibility blow. And she was a part, an architect of that policy in the early days. But we didn’t have that kind of campaign rhetoric. This campaign does have that kind of rhetoric. It’s going to be, it’s going to make voters more cynical. All the more reason, look, what I say, look, where I come from, Hugh, we talk in hockey analogies. Right now, the puck is in the part of the ice where everybody’s just calling each other names. But we, we Republicans are trying to sake to where the puck is going to be so we can score and win on November 8th. Now the puck is going be is, say it again?

HH: You’ve raised, according…yeah, this morning in Politico, you’ve raised $30 million dollars for the NRCC. It’s a record. Thank you for doing that, because we have to hold the Congress, regardless of who wins.

PR: Right.

HH: Are you confident that the American people want the House Republicans conducting oversight?

PR: Yes. I am. I am confident, and like I said, to finish my hockey analogy about my Wayne Gretzky line, we’re skating to where the puck is going to be. And that is, come November 8th, people want to know do you guys have answers? Are you principled? Do you have solutions? What’s your plan for getting this country fixed to restoring a confident America? And are you going to hold this government accountable? And are we going to have a government that works for us, the people? Are we going to restore our Constitution and get our country back on top again and make it confident again? And we are going to be where that puck is going to be, because we’re offering that. And I do believe that if we can get this conversation going like we’re trying, away from the cynical, you know, demagogic name calling and on to who is offering a better solution, we’re going to win this thing.

HH: Last question, Mr. Speaker. Do you think the former Secretary of State ought to apologize to Donald Trump for this?

PR: Sure, I do. But we won’t.

HH: Yeah.

PR: Sure. I mean, look, they’re going to call each other these kinds of names. It’s just, I don’t know, I don’t see why she thinks this is good for her, but I think it just shows, you know, you can just sort of see a person at the end of the day, what they’re like. And I think it’s being revealed. And I don’t think this four corner defense of hers is going to work for her. And they’re probably going to realize it, and they’re going to come out swinging below the belt.

HH: Yeah, you’d better be Dean Smith, and she’s not Dean Smith. Speaker Ryan, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it very much. Good luck in the end of the year negotiations.

End of interview.


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