The announcement that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has stepped aside from the Trump/Russia investigation, despite House Speaker Paul Ryan's attempts to vouch for him, is a stark reminder that the speaker's credibility is in a downward spiral.
In the face of public pressure over his unethical secret meeting with the White House, and an Ethics Committee investigation into his possible exposure of classified information, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) has reluctantly agreed to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s efforts to swing the presidential election for Donald Trump.
This is a humiliation for Nunes, but it is also a humiliation for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who did his utmost to defend Nunes’s integrity amid calls for his resignation or recusal. Last week, Ryan flatly told reporters that Nunes should not recuse himself.
Ryan’s inability to restore confidence in an embattled committee chair reflects his overwhelming failures to govern and to inspire public support.
Ryan was unable to get enough members of his own party to back the health care repeal, and he is hinting that it may be even harder for him to pass the regressive tax cuts Trump has demanded. One by one, Ryan’s legislative goals are being killed by Democratic opposition and Republican faction-fighting.
Meanwhile, Ryan is rapidly becoming one of the least popular politicians in America. The latest poll shows only 28 percent of Americans view him favorably. Even his own Wisconsin congressional district is turning on him, with a series of protests staged outside his Janesville office this year. Ryan has done nothing to respond to constituent complaints, having refused to hold a single town hall meeting since becoming speaker in 2015.
The GOP is facing a massive crisis of leadership, and the American people are taking notice. Republicans cannot expect effectiveness from Ryan, and as the resistance continues, the entire right-wing agenda is threatening to fall apart.