Other than Donald Trump, one of the biggest liars and frauds in Washington, D.C., is soon to be former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a man who never deserved to be treated as a serious conservative voice. His relentless efforts to slash funding for the less fortunate in order to shower massive tax cuts on the obscenely wealthy while feigning to be a devout Catholic demonstrate Ryan's rank hypocrisy. Worse yet, since January 20, 2017, Ryan has put the interest of the nation and the rule of law beneath rank partisanship and protecting an occupant of the White House who is likely guilty of obstruction of justice, if not actual treason. Ryan should never have been given respect much less treated as someone honest. With Ryan leaving at the end of his current term, a column in the Washington Post by a former Republican looks at Ryan's foul legacy. Here are column excerpts:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s last year in office is proving disastrous, a fitting end to the speakership of a man once considered a principled conservative reformer. His refusal to fulfill his constitutional role as leader of the House but rather play the role of presidential poodle and Republican attack dog for his increasingly unhinged caucus has had dire consequences for the GOP House majority, the intelligence oversight process and the broader conservative movement.
Among his most egregious failures has been his refusal to rein in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who, in concert with the White House, created a phony “unmasking” scandal and released a misleading memo casting aspersions on the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in connection with the warrant to conduct surveillance on suspected spy Carter Page. As Nunes’s crowd, together with the president, now threatens to reveal a secret FBI and CIA source, in an unprecedented breach of the House’s intelligence oversight responsibilities, the extent of Ryan’s reckless disregard for his oath becomes clear.
There is no evidence the FBI behaved improperly. (“The FBI commonly uses sources and informants to gather evidence and its regulations allow for use of informants even before a formal investigation has been opened. In many law enforcement investigations, the use of sources and informants precedes more invasive techniques such as electronic surveillance.”) . . . . had the FBI failed to follow up on evidence that a presidential campaign was engaged in secret communications with a foreign government, it would have been excoriated for dereliction of duty. Moreover, none of this was revealed during the campaign — in stark contrast to the airing of the allegations against Hillary Clinton for misuse of email, an action that looks downright trivial in comparison with a far-flung Russian plot to boost Trump, a scheme that at critical points was eagerly greeted by top members of the Trump campaign.
At any stage in this outrageous attack on American intelligence operations and the Justice Department, Ryan could have stepped in to replace members of the Intelligence Committee, to reprimand them and/or to rebuff the president’s attempt to interfere with and smear investigators seeking to uncover an attack on our democracy.
Ryan’s legacy will be not only of someone who politically enabled an unfit president, but also of someone who presided over the erosion of trust required for a proper intelligence oversight process. Ryan has done his party no favors in permitting it to become irrational conspiratorialists and antagonists of our intelligence community. His passivity has only encouraged Trump to abuse his powers, which may, when the facts are laid bare, amount to obstruction of justice.
This week Ryan completely lost control of his own troops, watching the farm bill go down in humiliating fashion as he tried to stave off an immigration compromise that might actually pass. He is no longer doing the people’s business . . . . . Perhaps he should retire now. Any temporary replacement could hardly do a worse job for the remaining months of the GOP majority.