For the past month there’s been intel community chatter that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may be so caught up in the Russia scandal that he might not survive it any better than Donald Trump or Mike Pence (link). Last night, someone finally gave the long-alleged secret recording of Paul Ryan to the media (link). And now I’m left to wonder aloud about the timing of it all, and what they’re trying to tell us.
The events of the past few days have made clear that Donald Trump sealed his own fate when he fired FBI Director James Comey. That’s led to everything from evidence of obstruction of justice to the appointment of a Special Counsel to elevate the investigation. Trump’s downfall is now largely a matter of how and when, not if. And as I pointed out last month, the Democrats set a trap for Mike Pence awhile back which caused him to implicate himself in the Russia scandal as well (link). So what if these two men are both ousted by exploding scandal at the same time?
In such case, Paul Ryan would become President. But what if he’s also guilty in the Russia scandal? Logically, it’s always made sense that as the de facto leader of the Republican Party, he would have been well aware of the meetings and antics between Russia and the Trump campaign that were playing out in nearly plain sight during the Republican National Convention. If Ryan was aware that Trump had a deal with Russia to rig the election, and he kept it to himself, and this can be proven, then he’s going down as well.
So if the U.S. intelligence community has been sitting on damning evidence of Paul Ryan’s involvement the entire time, it may have been waiting for the right time to loop the public in with what’s coming. They had to wait to reach this point, where Trump was largely assured of going down and Pence was fairly well tied to him, before selling the public on the idea that the third in line to the presidency is also going down. But on the other hand, they couldn’t wait until after Americans had already begun reluctantly accepting the inevitability of Ryan assuming the presidency.
So what we’re now witnessing may be the beginning of the intel community’s effort to put enough evidence out there to get the American public to realize that Paul Ryan is going down along with Trump and Pence. As I’ve previously pointed out, that doesn’t automatically mean that fourth in line Orrin Hatch would become President (link). When Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon went down in rapid fashion, we saw Congress work it out so a bipartisan consensus pick like Gerald Ford could be elevated to the Presidency, thus making the order of succession irrelevant. But it sure does look like the intel community is trying to inform us that Paul Ryan may no longer even be in the line of succession when it’s all said and done.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report