Ryan to Gianforte: Apologize

Ah, the perils of the daily presser. Paul Ryan clearly expected to get the inevitable Greg Gianforte question from the media after the Republican candidate allegedly assaulted a reporter last night. “There’s never a call for physical altercations,” Ryan responded. “Should the gentleman apologize? Yeah, I think he should apologize.”

Get ready for a zillion hot takes about crybaby Republicans and the liberal media, Mr. Speaker:

Predictions: The response to this will be split in equal parts between Ryan needs to expel him from the party and declare Rob Quist the rightful winner, and the GOP needs to expel Ryan from the party for a lack of manliness! There won’t be any winners with this statement, except common sense.

On that note, Ryan insists that the House will abide by the election results, regardless of who wins. The House does have the theoretical authority to refuse to seat someone (as does the Senate) from Article I Section 5 of the Constitution, and have occasionally used that power — but not lately, and for good reason. Two court decisions, Giles v Harris in 1903 and Powell v McCormack in 1969 has curtailed that authority to the point of uselessness. The most recent attempt was Roland Burris’ appointment to the Senate by then-governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, later convicted of corruption in relation to the appointment to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat. When Burris finally got a certification from the Illinois secretary of state, however, Burris finally got his seat — but opted not to run again when he was implicated in the Blagojevich corruption case and came under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

In other words, Ryan has no choice but to accept today’s election results, assuming that they get certified by the state of Montana. The House could expel Gianforte after seating him, which would take a two-thirds vote, but that process is usually reserved for corruption or felonious conduct while in office. Only 20 expulsions have taken place, and most of those were during the Civil War. The most recent were Michael Myers in 1980 and Jim Trafficant in 2002, both of whom took bribes while in office. A non-felonious assault won’t rise to that level, even if one thinks that Gianforte doesn’t deserve election.

NRCC chair Steve Stivers insists that this is “totally out of character” for Gianforte, but “we all make mistakes.” True, but does that also include having his campaign put out a false story first? Perhaps Gianforte needs to apologize for that too.