BULLHEAD CITY — It was a pointed question.
Why wasn’t President Donald Trump able to accomplish more of his agenda in his first two years of his presidency, when both chambers of Congress were under Republican control?
Rep. Paul Gosar gave an equally pointed answer.
“Paul Ryan,” said Gosar, a five-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives whose 4th District includes Bullhead City and Mohave County. “Paul Ryan isn’t who you think he is.”
Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, was Speaker of the House in from October 2015, a year before Trump’s election, until January 2019, when the Republicans lost control of the U.S. House.
Gosar said that, as speaker, Ryan controlled what legislation went before the House.
“Paul Ryan was dictating what came through,” Gosar said during a 90-minute visit with the Colorado River Tea Party Patriots on Saturday at the Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library.
Ryan wasn’t alone in Gosar’s scorn for what he called “a lack of leadership” in Congress that has stalled Trump’s agenda.
“Imagine if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell (the Kentucky Republican who has been Senate Majority Leader since January 2015) had helped him?”
Gosar said the GOP mandate that put Trump in office should have extended to Congress, but didn’t.
“Our leadership is selling out,” he said, adding that Congress likely will raise the debt ceiling and budget caps despite many members pledging not to do so. “They have no mission. No strategy.”
He said that it was Ryan, and to a lesser degree McConnell, who preempted the Trump agenda. Asked why other members of Congress didn’t challenge either leader, Gosar said that power and the fear of power were involved.
“How many people have the gumption to take on the speaker ... and live to tell about it?” he said.
Gosar, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has been able to do just that. The group of Republican congressmen aligned with conservative Tea Party and libertarian movements, has picked its battles, winning several of them.
He said that he wants the Republican delegation in general to “play smarter, not harder.”
Gosar spoke on a number of topics, taking questions from the Tea Party audience that has helped put him in office and keep him there.
Gosar, a former practicing dentist in Flagstaff who now calls Prescott home, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, defeating incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election. He won election in 2012 in the newly created 4th District, which includes Mohave County, and has been re-elected easily three more times, most recently in 2018.
He mentioned the “Russia collusion crap” and specifically Robert Mueller’s recent comments about the probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian entities in the 2016 election or worked to obstruct the Department of Justice investigation.
“I thought it was horrendous” how Mueller “impugned” the president, Gosar said.
He said an investigation into the source of the probe — particularly the FBI’s handling and procurement of information in its investigation on Russian influence in the election — should be thorough and transparent.
“People need to be held accountable,” he said.
He added that he was “thrilled with Mr. Barr.” U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who determined that Mueller’s findings did not uncover any crime reaching the level of obstruction of justice.
Gosar said the tables are now turning with an investigation into the investigation. He had a prediction on what that result would be.
“Here’s my worry,” he said. “That there’s going to be a scapegoat.”
And his prediction for that?
“It’s going to be Hillary Clinton,” he said, to a round of applause from the audience.
“She’s not going to be the only one,” Gosar insisted, naming several current and former FBI and Department of Justice officials, eliciting more applause.
Mueller’s investigation led to a total of 34 indictments with eight people who either have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes uncovered during the probe.
Gosar also touched on health care, trade, water rights, immigration, economics and Democrats’ calls for Trump’s impeachment, often times weaving one topic into another since many are connected, especially legislatively. His responses on some of those topics will appear in a future edition of the Mohave Valley Daily News.