Paul Ryan: James Comey is not a nut job

Paul Ryan is the 54th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Now serving his tenth term in the House, he represents Wisconsin's First Congressional District. Credit: speaker.gov

WASHINGTON  — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday he doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump that former FBI Director James Comey is a “nut job.”

His remarks were in response to a New York Times report that the President bragged to two top Russian officials earlier this month that firing “nut job” Comey eased “great pressure” on him.

“Yeah, I don’t agree with that,” Ryan told Axios’ Mike Allen at the Axios News Shapers event in Washington. “And he’s not.”

He added later, “I like Jim Comey.”

President Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak came one day after Comey was fired.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not refute the Times story but said it was Comey’s “grandstanding and politicizing” of the Russia investigation that put pressure on the administration’s ability to engage Moscow.

“The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people,” Spicer said in a statement to CNN. “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”

Following the reports that President Trump called Ryan a “nut job” — as well as reports that Comey wrote a memo in which he said President Trump asked him to “move on” from investigating Flynn — Ryan told reporters last week he still had confidence in President Trump.

When asked on his way out of a news conference about whether he still had confidence in the President, Ryan responded, “I do.”

CNN’s Amanda Wills contributed to this report.