WASHINGTON (AP) — Breaking with President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday he rejects Trump’s assessment that former FBI Director James Comey is a “nut job.”
“Yeah, I don’t agree with that. And he’s not,” Ryan, R-Wis., told the Axios website.
Ryan said he likes Comey, who was fired by Trump two weeks ago amid an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign with Moscow.
The New York Times reported last week that Trump told Russian diplomats that firing “nut job” Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him. The White House has said Comey’s firing was unrelated to the Russia investigation.
Ryan, who’s frequently disagreed with the president, said he works well with Trump and that Trump’s best quality is “his energy and his engagement.”
When Trump “sees a goal he wants to achieve — health care is a perfect example — he just focuses on it. He has no pretension about him,” Ryan said.
On other issues, Ryan said he took Trump’s description of him as a Boy Scout as a compliment. “I’m not sure it was meant that way. We’re just different people,” he said.
While lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump’s proposed cuts to food stamps, payments to the disabled and other social programs, Ryan called the budget proposal a “refreshing” change from President Barack Obama.
“We have a president who, for the first time in eight years, said, ‘Let’s actually balance the budget.’ … I think that’s refreshing,” Ryan said.
As for Congress, many Americans “think that everything is in chaos. It really actually isn’t,” Ryan said. “We’re focused and determined to get our work done.”