WASHINGTON -- Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is among a group of senators asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation.
“The fact that a senior national security advisor served for weeks while the president knew he had been identified as vulnerable to Russian blackmail is stunning,” Merkley said in a statement Wednesday morning. “At this point, the things we know about the events leading to the resignation of Michael Flynn raise far more questions than answers. This goes to the core of our national security."
The group sent a letter to Sessions, asking for answers to the following questions:
- Why did General Flynn continue to receive and deliver the daily classified briefing to the President for 17 days after the DOJ made the White House aware he was susceptible to Russian blackmail?
- On what basis did White House Counsel Donald McGahn make his determination that no laws were violated? Will that reasoning be made public in writing? If not, why not?
- Was any of the information in the wiretap transcript made available to the President? If so, when?
- During the time these phone calls were made, what was the nature of the interaction between President-Elect Trump and General Flynn? Was the President-Elect aware of General Flynn's attempt to conduct foreign policy on behalf of his incoming Administration? If so, was the discussion of easing sanctions conducted at then President-Elect Trump's request, or with his prior knowledge? If not, why was the President-Elect unaware of these conversations with one of America's most consequential foreign adversaries?
- Who else in the Administration or the transition team had prior knowledge of, or participated in, the phone calls that General Flynn conducted with foreign envoys?
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump faced renewed questions Wednesday about contacts between his associates and Russia during last year's election cycle. Trump said such questions are based on "conspiracy theories" being spun by the media and illegal intelligence leaks.
"If Attorney General Sessions is serious about safeguarding our security, he must appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate without delay,” Merkley said.
The letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).