Partisan divides grew wider as House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Hillary Clinton in a town hall hosted by CNN on Tuesday evening. Specifically, Ryan called out Clinton for the FBI's investigation of her private email server. Though FBI director James Comey had advised that no charges be brought against Clinton in an announcement on July 5, Ryan's boldly-stated comments suggested the debate is far from finished. The dispute over Clinton's "damn emails," as Bernie Sanders famously referred to them during the first Democratic debate, will endure the upcoming conventions and possibly even the general election.
The House Speaker's sentiment was shared by numerous members of the Republican Party, who have since asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Clinton lied under oath during the Benghazi trials. They have also requested that the FBI investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption. During the town hall, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Ryan to justify these actions, which could be perceived as last ditch partisan efforts to defame the presumptive Democratic nominee. Ryan alleged:
We want to make sure that everyone is treated equally. I believe that she has gotten preferential treatment throughout ... much of her career in that she believes she's above the law. She holds herself above the law, and I think everyone should be held accountable.
Ryan's comments echoed an opinion he's publicly held for weeks. On July 5, he was featured on Fox's The Kelly File, where he claimed that Americans have been prosecuted for less:
This certainly does underscore the belief that the Clintons live above the law, and this is one of the reasons why people are so dissatisfied, so upset about government. They think that people live by a different set of rules, and the Clintons, they take the candle on this one.
Ultimately, Ryan expressed that he distrusts Clinton with the classified information traditionally received by both presidential nominees following the conventions. This means that, like Clinton, after July's convention, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump will also have access to "the most deeply classified secrets of our government," as Ryan described them.
During his discussion with Tapper, the house speaker reiterated his support of the controversial candidate. Though Ryan didn't approve of Trump initially, he and the anti-establishment businessman eventually found common ground. However, that ground still remains shaky. When asked by an audience member how he can morally support a candidate who has committed racial slurs, Ryan focused on why he believes Clinton would be detrimental to the nation.
In other words, although Trump isn't the ideal nominee in many Republicans' eyes, he will push the Republican agenda conservatives support. Though Ryan couldn't defend the candidate's past missteps or values, he will endorse his politics and, apparently, continue to criticize Clinton.