Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that it was "obviously" not appropriate for President Donald Trump to ask James Comey, former director of the FBI — an independent, nonpartisan agency — for loyalty.
"Obviously I don't think that is," Ryan said when asked by MSNBC host Greta Van Susteren if Trump's alleged request for Comey's loyalty was appropriate.
Speaking to Van Susteren on For the Record Wednesday following the release of Comey's prepared testimony statement, Ryan said, "I think that Director Comey will get a lot of questions about that tomorrow, would be my guess. But I don't that that's new — I that that's already been reported on. I think that was something in the New York Times, gosh, a month or two ago."
"I think the big difference here is that we're not hearing it from anonymous sources but from the former FBI director," Van Susteren responded.
"Yes, that's right," Ryan said. "Tomorrow you'll have it in live and in person, so it's not different in substance but it's different we're hearing it straight from the director himself.
"And yes, FBI directors are supposed to be independent," Ryan added. "That's something that's very, very critical."
Comey's statement released ahead of his testimony with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday sent shockwaves throughout Washington, as Comey's remarks confirmed several accounts of Trump's interactions with the former FBI chief.
"A few moments later, the President said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed," Comey wrote of a January 27 dinner with Trump. "We simply looked at each other in silence."