House Speaker Paul Ryan is avoiding the public and the media after Michael Flynn pleaded guilty and pledged to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has gone missing since former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Reports have indicated that Flynn is set to give special counsel Robert Mueller inside information on actions by Donald Trump, his family, and top administration officials about collusion with Russia and the cover-up that followed.
Ryan, as speaker, is second in line to the presidency behind Mike Pence. He is the highest-ranking Republican elected official in the United States outside of the executive branch.
Despite this position and role in the U.S. government, Ryan has not uttered a word about the Flynn plea and its implications for the country.
Ryan’s two Twitter accounts have been active. On his government account, Ryan sent tweets recapping November, hailing a new Republican member of Congress, and reiterating his comments to NPR on sexual harassment.
But on neither account has Ryan addressed Flynn at time of this writing. He also did not post any information on the criminal development on his official accounts for his office or the office of the speaker.
And he has made no public appearances since the news of Flynn’s plea deal broke.
Ryan is apparently taking Trump’s lead, after the White House canceled a previously scheduled press availability with Trump after the Flynn news broke.
By contrast, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a stinging rebuke of Flynn and his plea’s implications for Trump.
“The guilty plea of President Trump’s former National Security Advisor to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian authorities marks a dark moment in our nation’s history,” Pelosi said in a statement.
She went on to note, “Republicans in Congress must stop shielding the President and join Democrats to take real, immediate action to counter Russian aggression and prevent further attacks on our democracy.”
The radio silence continues Ryan’s pattern of choosing not to use his bully pulpit to weigh in on Trump’s litany of misdeeds. Instead, like the rest of the Republican establishment, Ryan has made a devil’s bargain to hitch his wagon to Trump in exchange for the passage of conservative legislation like tax breaks for the wealthy.
Ryan has conceded that when it comes to Trump, “we merged our agendas.” If that means keeping quiet, even as the specter of criminality draws closer to the presidency, that’s apparently what Ryan will do.