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Senators push for briefing on Flynn's Russia ties

February 15, 2017

Top Republican and Democrat senators have asked the FBI for a briefing on ex-security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation. There are growing concerns, even among Republicans, about Trump's potential ties to the Kremlin.

USA Donald Trump mit Michael Flynn im Wahlkampf
Image: Getty Images/G. Frey

The top Democrat and Republican lawmakers on the US Senate Judiciary Committee asked for copies late Wednesday of the transcripts of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's intercepted calls with Russian contacts.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein of California sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey requesting documents and a briefing on Flynn's departure.

Noting that both the FBI and the Justice Department were involved in events leading up to Flynn's resignation, the senators said the reports raised "substantial questions" about the former adviser's discussions with Russian officials.

GOP growing anxious

Republicans on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly restive in the aftermath of Flynn's departure. 

Flynn's resignation Monday night came about ostensibly because he gave misleading information Vice-President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.

But among the bigger questions swirling around the scandal are whether Flynn may have broken any laws, and who else in the campaign, or affiliated with it, had contact with the Kremlin in the run-up to the November 8 election. Trump, who has frequently praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, is not above suspicion.

Less than a month into his presidency Trump finds himself in a deepening crisis, with at least two Republican senators vowing to get to the bottom of the administration's ties to the Kremlin.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other senators in Trump's party, pushed for more information from the White House.

Phone call records and intercepted calls leaked to the New York Times Tuesday showed members of Trump's presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the November 8 election in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Let's get everything out as quickly as possible on this Russia issue," Corker said. "I would want to make sure, with all of this suspicion, that everybody fully understood what has taken place. Otherwise, maybe there's a problem that obviously goes much deeper than what we now suspect."

Dysfunctional White House

Corker also expressed alarm over the way the administration is functioning, asking, "Is the White House going to have the ability to stabilize itself?"

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a prominent Republican voice on foreign policy who has been a Trump critic, called for a bipartisan congressional investigation, to be conducted by a special committee, if it turns out that Trump's presidential campaign communicated with the Russians.

"If it is true, it is very, very disturbing to me," Graham told the ABC-TV network. "And Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies, and any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price."

Trump, meanwhile, continued to praise Flynn on Wednesday, calling him "a wonderful man" who has been treated "very, very unfairly by the media."

He also slammed the intelligence leaks, surrounding the case, which he called "a criminal act."

The White House has reportedly found a replacement for Flynn, offering the national security adviser's job to US Navy Vice Admiral Robert Harward. It was not immediately clear if Harward, a former deputy commander of US Central Command, would accept the offer.

rs, bik/kl (Reuters, AFP)