WASHINGTON – Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the many layers of controversy facing President Donald Trump will not impede House Republicans from pursuing their agenda, the day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to probe possible collusion between associates of Trump and Russian officials.
Ryan sought to project an aura of calm while speaking with reporters Thursday as a growing sense of scandal engulfs the White House.
"It's always nice to have less drama," he acknowledged during a news conference. "I realize there's a lot in the media these days. That doesn't seize up Congress. That doesn't stop us from doing our jobs."
He gave tax reform, a major GOP priority, as an example, vowing it would not slip into next year.
"Drama is not helpful in getting things done," Ryan said, "but we're still getting things done. … I feel very comfortable we'll meet this goal."
The comments came amid a second chaotic week on Capitol Hill in the wake of Trump's dismissal of FBI Director James Comey. New revelations about Trump — including his disclosure of highly classified information to Russian officials and his attempt to pressure Comey into dropping an investigation into the former White House national security adviser — have left Republicans reeling and increasingly frustrated by the president's behavior.
Asked about private chatter among some Republicans that Vice President Mike Pence would be a better chief executive than Trump, Ryan projected disgust.
"I'm not going to give credence to that," he said. "I'm not even going to comment on that."
Attention on Capitol Hill quickly returned Thursday to Comey's firing, as committees awaited a response to invitations for him to testify and senators received a briefing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein told the Senate he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for Trump firing the FBI chief.
Comey has received invitations to testify from the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He has not stated publicly whether he will appear.
"Mr. Comey was central to the events of the past few weeks," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "We still need to hear from him."