Members of Congress from both parties on Tuesday demanded an investigation into the White House’s ties to Russia following the abrupt resignation of President Donald Trump‘s national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned on Monday night following reports that the Department of Justice last month warned the Trump administration that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his communications with Russia.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who serves as vice-chair of Senate Select Intelligence Committee, called the White House’s knowledge of such information and refusal to promptly act on it “deeply troubling.” He also said the panel would continue to investigate Flynn in its bipartisan investigation of Russia’s interference of the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement posted to his website, Warner said any other resignations by Trump administration officials would not prevent the panel from investigating their ties to Russia:
“These developments underscore how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when.
This reinforces both the urgency and the significance of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian interference, which will include a thorough examination of contacts between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, as well as interviews with current and former government officials.
Nothing about this resignation,or resignations that could occur in the future, precludes the Senate Intelligence Committee from continuing to investigate Gen. Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.
It is clear that our task is more urgent than ever.”
The lead Democrats on both the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and House Judiciary Committee are calling for a classified briefing with the FBI and the Department of Justice before Thursday.
“We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks. We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security,” wrote Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in a joint statement.
Republican lawmakers joined the Democrats’ chorus of calls for an investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, and some are demanding that Flynn testify on his call with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the second-highest Republican, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, both called for an investigation into Flynn, CNN reports.
“I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” Blunt told KTRS radio. “And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principle responsibility to look into this, and I think that we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions.”
Blunt told reporters on Capitol Hill after the Republican caucus luncheon on Tuesday that “it’s likely” the Senate Intelligence Committee will call on Flynn to discuss his activities with Russia.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a frequent Trump critic and a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, also said an investigation is necessary. “I think Congress needs to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions,” he told CNN.
Not all Replican lawmakers are as aggressive, however, with key figures remaining silent on any potential investigations.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, did not yet respond to calls from Cummings or other Democrats to ask the FBI, the National Security Council, and other agencies to disclose documents related to Flynn’s vetting.
Chaffetz has not made a signal reference to Flynn’s resignation on social media. He did, however, post a photo on Instagram of Pence making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the GOP cloakroom on Monday night.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said Flynn’s resignation was “the right decision” but has not expressed support for an extensive investigation into other potential White House ties to Russia.
— Kellie Mejdrich (@kelmej) February 14, 2017