House Speaker Paul Ryan defends Federal Bureau of Investigation work in 2016 election probe

Paul Ryan

During a press conference on Wednesday, the House speaker said that while he can't weigh in on the legality of Trump's claim that he can pardon himself, he'd prefer that the president not spark a constitutional crisis to find out.

Ryan became the highest-ranking Republican to throw cold water on that interpretation, which Democrats and former high-level law enforcement officials have claimed is part of an unrelenting effort to discredit the ongoing investigation into Trump and his campaign. "We still have some unanswered questions".

At issue is the FBI's use of a longtime government informant in its investigation into whether Russian Federation was trying to sway the election.

Gowdy, after reviewing Justice Department documents on the FBI's and special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, shot down Trump's claim.

The Department of Justice held the two briefings late last month amid reports that a longtime US government informant approached members of Trump's campaign to gather intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election. The department and Federal Bureau of Investigation will also provide the documents that were available for review but not inspected by the members at the previous briefing, along with some additional material, " the official said.

President Trump has said the FBI's alleged surveillance campaign was "bigger than Watergate", and the Department of Justice has formally requested a review of the surveillance application process used by the FBI to determine "whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation".

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Gohmert didn't provide any evidence, and wasn't in the briefing with Gowdy and Ryan, but argued that unfounded allegations of spies infiltrating the Trump campaign is the latest indication a second special counsel is needed.

Asked by a reporter Wednesday if Trump does have that power, Ryan replied that he doesn't know the "technical answer" to the question.

The department originally denied Congress access to any of the documents, citing national security concerns.

That statement was issued by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and the top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence panels, Sen. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who has floated the possibility of impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's probe, declined to comment on Ryan's take until after he had spoken directly with the speaker.

"I think Chairman Gowdy's initial assessment is accurate", Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill, adding: "We have some more digging to do". "If I am watching you without your knowledge, gathering information without your knowledge, don't tell you about it, I'm spying on you", Carlson said.

Authors information: Mike DeBonis covers Congress, with a focus on the House, for The Washington Post.

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