GB: We are happy to have you along, and even happier to be joined right out of the gates by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Mr. Speaker, thanks for being here.
PR: Hey, what up? Good morning, Guy, how are you doing?
GB: Doing very well. Hey, let’s start with the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. It’s moving through the House today. What does this bill hope to achieve? And why is it important? Also, do you expect it to pass?
PR: I do expect it to pass. This is one of our most important promises that we made during the campaign, which is to clean up the crisis at the VA. As you probably remember, you have these waiting lists which we discovered first in Phoenix and then kind of all around the country where veterans were on these sort of secret waiting lists not getting the care that they deserved. People were dying on these waiting lists. And then when we dug into it, we created the new choice program. We gave veterans outlets out of these things. But we, because of the law, could not hold people accountable. I mean, VA, the new VA Secretary, who’s big in getting to the bottom of this, he was telling a story about how it took him over a month to fire a psychiatrist who was caught on camera, you know, watching pornography when he was supposed to be attending to veterans. It’s just crazy that they couldn’t fire people because of these civil service laws for, and hold them accountable, to hold them to accountability. So this protects whistleblowers who tell about these things. It protects the whistleblowers who uncover these scandals, and it gives us, the government, and the VA Secretary, the ability to fire people if they’re not doing their jobs. So it basically gives us the ability to hold the people of the VA accountable for doing their jobs and giving the veterans the service they deserve, and then protects the kind of transparency and whistleblower system we need so that we can make sure that this kind of scandal can’t be brushed under the rug again.
GB: And you said that you expect that to pass today?
PR: I do.
GB: If and when it does, that will be yet another bill moving out of this House of Representatives in this Congress. And the Majority Leader’s office put out an infographic that showed actually a pretty high level, historically, of productivity. That’s kind of an underreported story.
PR: I know.
GB: Talk about that, and why do you think it’s so underreported.
GB: Well, I think everybody just wants to talk about the palace theater. I think they all want to talk about, you know, Comey and everything else. But we’re not actually seeing the fact that we have been more productive than any presidency and Congress since before George H.W. Bush. I mean, compared to Clinton, compared to Obama, compared to Bush I, Bush II, bills signed into law, more bills passed Congress than any of those presidencies. And so we’ve actually been doing our jobs. But the media simply does not want to record that fact. I mean, how many people in this country know that last Thursday, as there was wall to wall coverage of Jim Comey talking in one committee in one half of Congress, that the House of Representatives repealed and replaced Dodd-Frank? I mean, so we are basically racking and stacking, getting our job done, fulfilling our promises, making good on the policies that we ran on. But like you said, it’s just not getting covered.
GB: Meanwhile, there is this palace drama, as you called it, and it is in some ways all-consuming. At least it feels that way sometimes. I do have to ask you, yesterday, one of the President’s close allies and friends, Chris Ruddy, floated a trial balloon, and there have been other people in that orbit talking about this, discussing whether the President might move to kneecap or to fire Robert Mueller as special counsel. If he makes moves in that direction, if he tries to dismiss Robert Mueller before he concludes his work as special counsel on Russia, would you support that decision? And if not, what would you do?
PR: Well, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. I’d be surprised if he did that. I think he should let Bob Mueller do his job, do his job independently, and do his job quickly, because I think that that’s what he would want to have happen. So I just, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals. I’d be surprised if he would do that. The point…
GB: Do you think it would be a bad idea? If you were counseling him, do you think, would you counsel him against…
PR: Yeah, I think he should let, I think he should let Bob Mueller do his work. I think we should let Bob Mueller do his work and get to the bottom of it, and get to the bottom of it quickly so that he can be vindicated, get to these things. Let’s not forget what this is originally all about. Russia is up to no good. Russia is trying to meddle into our elections…
GB: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like you’re getting, we’re having a little bit of interference on your cell phone. I’m sure it’s not the Russians, but please continue. It sounds like we’re losing Speaker Ryan.
PR: Guy, can you hear me now?
GB: Yes, go ahead.
PR: Okay, I apologize, Guy, I’m on a cell phone.
GB: No problem.
PR: The point I’d make is Russia’s up to no good. They’re meddling not only in our elections, but they’re doing this all around the world to try to delegitimize democracy.
GB: Yeah, unfortunately, the Speaker of the House is cutting in and out. Mr. Speaker, if you can hear me, my next question for you is there is a CNN report, I believe, that broke last night on this Mueller story that of the attorneys that Robert Mueller has hired onto his team so far, there are five known lawyers, three of whom have FEC records of having donated to political candidates. And all three of them donated, “almost exclusively” to Democrats, including two of them who maxed out to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Does that concern you? I know Mueller has a great reputation for impartiality and professionalism. If he’s building a team around him that looks like partisan Democrats, just the optics alone could feed some of this criticism that’s floating around of Mueller’s work broadly. Does that concern you? Do you think he should maybe hire some Republicans just if only to quell those concerns?
PR: Well, I haven’t seen the reporting, so I’m just not going to comment on something that I haven’t seen, yet. All I’d say is there’s a reason for having an independent counsel statute or regulation, and that is to try and make sure that these, that our objectives are above board, and that they’re independent. And I think that’s the other point that has been kind of missed in all of this, which is nothing has been impeded here. There are three active investigations going on – House, Senate and an independent counsel, or independent advisor here. And so that’s the point. I’m not going to comment on speculation or on a news report that I haven’t even seen or heard about, yet.
GB: That’s fair.
PR: Only to say that I think, only to say that I think it’s just important that we get to the bottom of these facts, find the, follow the facts wherever they go. And the point we were making at the begging of your interview here, and sorry about the cell phone here, is we’re doing our jobs here in Congress. Things are still getting done. I think people need to know that Congress is keeping its eye on the ball, which is fixing their problems, not sitting here with palace intrigue. We’re not getting seized up because CNN has got some ticker that’s counting down the next hearing with Jeff Sessions. We’re passing a bill today, this week, to take the Veterans Administration and hold them accountable and give us the tools to hold people accountable to make sure that they are serving our veterans. We repealed and replaced Dodd-Frank last week. We’ve already replaced the health care bill, Affordable Care Act, in the House. In the first six months, we’ve eliminated or passed bills repealing and replacing two signature Obama-era laws that we think did great damage to the country – Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. We’re moving the kinds of legislation that we said we would move when we ran, when we asked the country to elect us. And these are the reforms that make people’s lives better, that improve this country. And that’s the point I think that matters here.
GB: All right, let’s talk about Obamacare, because there’s a number of stories out in the last few weeks that show that the law continues to unravel. Just yesterday, we saw that 2 million people have dropped their Obamacare plans, those who had signed up, already low enrollment numbers. 75 counties without any Obamacare insurer options on the individual market, a third of American counties with only one option, with those shrinking, obviously, there’s a problem with the status quo. You guys passed the American Health Care Act. It’s now over on the Senate side. And I know you don’t control the Senate, but you’re part of Republican leadership. There have been some complaints that their process, this working group of 13 Senators, is opaque and behind closed doors and secretive, and they’re going to try to rush it through, some of the same criticisms that were leveled at you guys during the AHCA process. Are you comfortable with the Senate process from what you’re seeing so far?
PR: Yeah, the Senate is always long been known as the deliberative body. I’m air quoting when I say that there. And so I think what really matters is that they dig into the bill that we sent them. What’s sort of frustrating about this whole process is they had to use these rules called reconciliation, which limit what you can do in any kind of legislation. So they’re working with those rules.
PR: What matters is that we stepped in front of this unfolding crisis. And as you just said, Guy, a collapsing law that’s doing real damage to people, and so that’s the point I think that’s the most important point I’m trying to make here, which is people are being damaged by these laws. A person who has, you know, a catastrophic condition like cancer, and who lives in, like, say, Iowa, where next year they’re not going to have a health insurance plan, they don’t care who’s testifying in Congress today. They care if they’re going to have a choice for health care next year, and that’s why we’re focusing on their problems. That’s why it’s important for the Senate to keep doing their job, that we fix these problems, and not get distracted with these things.
GB: Yeah, message received. Mr. Speaker, thank you for your time. That’s the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.