WASHINGTON (CN) – A top Senate Republican on Tuesday said it is likely former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will be asked to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as the panel looks into his contacts with the Russian government after the election.
Sen. Roy Blunt, A Missouri Republican who serves on the Intelligence Committee, joined a number of other members of the GOP in calling for the committee to investigation Flynn in the wake of his resignation on Monday night.
The committee is already investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the November election and Republicans said it is equipped to roll Flynn into that inquiry.
“The intelligence committee is looking at what the Obama administration left on the table about Russia and our elections,” Blunt told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Chairman [Richard] Burr and Senator [Mark] Warner will decide who comes before that committee but I think it’s likely that General Flynn will be at some point asked to come and talk to the committee about both post-election activities and any other activities that he would be aware of.”
Flynn resigned on Monday night amid a firestorm of news reports that he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before the Trump administration took office. Flynn later told Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed much during his call with the ambassador.
New reports from the New York Times suggest the White House knew of Flynn’s transgressions as many as three weeks ago, despite President Donald Trump’s assertion to reporters last week that he did not know of the allegations against his top national security adviser.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president and they have accepted my apology.”
Sen. John McCain and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell each supported Blunt’s call to have the Intelligence Committee handle any further investigation into Flynn’s contacts with the Russian government and when the administration learned of them.
“First of all, I think we ought to have questions answered for everybody, every member of Congress, all 535,” McCain told reporters Tuesday. “Then if the Intel Committee needs to do more work, I think that’s fine, but the American people need to know.”
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for an even more expansive investigation that would include the Justice Department, which unlike the Intelligence Committee would be able to bring criminal charges if it found Flynn broke the law.
“What I am calling for is an independent investigation with executive authority to pursue potential criminal actions,” Schumer told reporters.
Schumer said the Senate committee could conduct any investigation it would like, but that he would also like a larger investigation with the potential of harsh punishments for Flynn if warranted. For this to happen, newly-minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters during the campaign, would need to recues himself, Schumer said.
The surprise resignation and the circumstances that led to it have raised even more the already heightened concerns about the Trump administration’s handling of national security issues and its decision making processes surrounding those issues.
“It’s dysfunctional as far as national security is concerned,” Sen. McCain said. “Who’s in charge? Who’s in charge? Who’s making policy, who’s making decisions? I don’t know of anyone outside of the White House that knows. And where’s the checks and balances? Where’s the involvement of Congress?”