WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul D. Ryan agreed on Wednesday that the F.B.I. did nothing wrong by using a confidential informant to contact members of the Trump campaign as it investigated its ties to Russia, contradicting President Trump’s assertions of a broad conspiracy by federal law enforcement.
And he warned that Mr. Trump should not try to pardon himself, despite Mr. Trump’s assertion two days earlier that the president has the power to take such a step.
“I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t,” Mr. Ryan told reporters. “And no one is above the law.”
Mr. Trump has seized on the disclosure of the use of an informant to claim, without evidence, that federal law enforcement officials had improperly placed a spy in his campaign. He demanded a Justice Department inquiry of the matter and dubbed the matter “SPYGATE” in repeated posts on Twitter.
Mr. Ryan became the highest-ranking Republican to throw cold water on that interpretation, which Democrats and former high-level law enforcement officials have claimed was an effort to discredit the ongoing investigation into Mr. Trump and his campaign. Mr. Ryan backed Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, who pursued Hillary Clinton as the chairman of a special select committee on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, but infuriated some Republican partisans by rebuffing Mr. Trump on “Spygate.”
“Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate, but we have more digging to do,” Mr. Ryan told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. Mr. Gowdy is a former federal prosecutor, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and one of House Republicans’ most experienced investigators.