Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said members of Congress’ intelligence committees have begun an investigation into the alleged communications between members of the Trump team and Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
“We need to get answers. We need to make sure that nothing happened that shouldn’t have happened as we go forward,” Ryan told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview, ahead of President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.
Ryan didn’t directly say whether a special prosecutor should investigate the alleged ties between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team, and whether the White House had tried to influence reporting about any communications.
Ryan said one of his main concerns is ensuring that the collection of intelligence data is not compromised, and a bipartisan investigation is necessary.
“It’s the most sensitive tool in our national security toolbox,” Ryan said.
Democrats have called for a select committee or special prosecutor to delve further into claims of Russian interference in November’s election.But Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, questioned Monday why a special prosecutor was necessary and said he’s not interested in a congressional committee “witch hunt.”Former President George W. Bush told TODAY on Monday that Americans expect answers for all the questions surrounding Russia, although he didn’t specifically endorse the use of a special prosecutor.
Ryan had met with Trump on Monday, when the White House said it would propose adding $54 billion in defense and security funding while cutting that amount from "lower-priority programs" across government agencies, including the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ryan has called for significant changes to entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — in order to curb the nation’s ballooning debt.
So could a showdown be coming between Congressional Republicans and the White House?
Ryan said he believes Trump would agree that leaving entitlement programs for current seniors and soon-to-be retirees is crucial, while revising it for future generations.
But he said Republicans will move forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which Ryan criticized as “collapsing” and being more expensive to maintain than initially suggested.
“Replacing Obamacare is entitlement reform,” Ryan said.
When was asked why Trump could claim Monday that no one knew fixing healthcare would be so complicated, the speaker said the president is surrounding himself with knowledgeable cabinet members, such as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who can dissect complex issues.
“I see him as more of a chairman, a president … who gets people around him who can execute those plans,” Ryan said of Trump.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a news conference that the "budget blueprint" details are just a framework, but a full budget will be outlined in May.
After taking office more than a month ago, Trump has promised to make sweeping changes to health care and immigration while slashing domestic spending. But he has remained ambiguous on the details, reversing and shifting policy views since running his unorthodox presidential campaign.
Trump during his address Tuesday night is expected to focus on what he has done in his first month in office, how to repair the economy and how he will build up the military.
Ryan said he said an advance copy of a portion of Trump’s speech and “What I saw, I liked a lot.”