- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday that no one has claimed to have evidence that President Trump or his associates were “in on” or “involved in” Russia’s meddling in last year’s election.

“This has been well-established that Russia has been trying to meddle with our country in our last elections — that’s established. We know that,” Mr. Ryan said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“No one has made … the claim that evidence exists that Donald Trump or his people were in on it, were involved in that,” said Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that associates of Mr. Trump were in contact with Russian officials during last year’s presidential campaign, although The New York Times reported that it was unclear whether the conversations even had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.

Mr. Trump and his team have consistently denied such contacts were made, and Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday that the “Russian connection non-sense” is an attempt to cover up Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s mistakes.

“New administrations, for reasonable and practical reasons, try to improve the relationship with Russia because it would be nice if their interests aligned with ours,” Mr. Ryan said. “I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen or work because of the way Russia conducts itself.”

Mr. Ryan said he’d support a congressional effort to codify sanctions against Russia if the White House moves to weaken them.

“If those sanctions were to be watered down, I would for sure support codifying them and making sure that they don’t get watered down, because I do believe Russia is a global menace, and their interests are not aligned with our interests,” he said.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others on talks he had with Russia’s U.S. ambassador after last year’s election. Those talks allegedly touched on sanctions imposed on Russian officials by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential campaign.

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