Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may possibly have stepped down as national security adviser, but the scrutiny more than his communications with Russia is just starting.
“There are concerns about what, if any, contacts Gen. Flynn had with the [Russian] ambassador prior to the election,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview hours ahead of Flynn’s resignation. “These are legitimate queries and reputable inquiries that I assume Americans want to know.”
Flynn is one particular of many figures close to President Trump who can expect to face tough queries in the Senate as an Intelligence Committee investigation begins looking into Russian meddling just before Election Day, Warner told ABC News.
“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 might have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election,” Warner said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Warner and the Republican Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr late Tuesday pledged a cooperative effort in investigating the question of Russian meddling.
“We are aggressively going to continue the oversight duty of the committee,” Burr stated, “including any make contact with by any campaign people that may have occurred with Russian government officials.”
Their comments came soon after the committee members met behind closed doors and, sources told ABC News, started compiling a list of names of possible witnesses. Whether Flynn would be referred to as to testify remains unknown, but Burr did not rule it out. “We will not exclude that,” he stated.
In the Residence, top Democrats mentioned they are searching to broaden their probe into allegations of Russian meddling through the campaign season.
“We in Congress will need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite realizing these dangers,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. “We want to know who else inside the White Home is a existing and ongoing risk to our national safety.”
A Cummings aide told ABC News the congressman has asked for a full classified briefing by all relevant agencies, such as the Division of Justice and the FBI within 48 hours. Cummings officials said they are monitoring reports of a Pentagon investigation into payments Flynn received for a 2015 speaking engagement in Moscow that led him to be seated at dinner next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s team has stated emphatically there was no communication between his campaign and the Kremlin or its agents. In January, for the duration of the transition period, then–Vice President–elect Mike Pence appeared on Sunday talk shows to address the query head on. “Of course not,” he said on Fox News when asked about communications with Russia. “Why would there be any contact between the campaign? This is all a distraction, and it is all part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of [Trump’s] presidency.”
The White Residence has not commented on the propriety of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. Tuesday morning, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, “I do not know all the facts.”
Property Speaker Paul Ryan also declined Tuesday morning to answer detailed inquiries about the matter.
“I feel we need to have to get all of the data ahead of we prejudge something,” he stated.
Warner told ABC News he believes both political parties want to “get to the bottom” of concerns about achievable Russian influence during the 2016 campaign.
“And the 1 point that I’m acquiring that provides me heart here — the a single factor I located on this topic is that the vast majority of senators in both parties want us to get to the bottom of this,” Warner said.
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