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GOP senators are split on whether to investigate Flynn’s Russia ties

Despite some opposition, an investigation is “highly likely.”

Photo by The Washington Post/Contributor/Getty Images

On Tuesday, seven Republican senators indicated that it’s likely there will be further investigations into the conversations between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the US. Flynn resigned Monday night following reports that the Justice Department briefed the White House last month that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office.

CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said it is “highly likely” that the Senate Intelligence Committee will look into Flynn’s talks with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Republican Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Corker (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) also expressed support for investigating Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.

In a statement, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair McCain said:

General Flynn’s resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.

Speaking on MSNBC, McCain said, “There should an investigation.”

Sen. Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed this sentiment: "I think everybody needs that investigation to happen … For all of us, finding out if there's a problem or not and sooner rather than later is the right thing to do,” he said on KTRS radio.

On CNN, Sen. Graham weighed in: “I think Congress needs to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions, and I want to know — did Gen. Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?”

Not all Republican senators are keen on investigating Flynn and Kislyak’s talks, however. RealClearNews’ Rebecca Berg reports that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) dismissed Flynn’s resignation as merely the Trump administration “finding their sea legs.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the Dallas News, "The situation that has unfolded is unfortunate, but I think the central concern should be ensuring that we have in place a strong, serious national security team that is prepared and committed to defending this nation."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also cautioned against a full investigation, telling Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, “I think that might be excessive.” He went on:

I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.

Republican leaders in the House are similarly hesitant to push for a specific investigation beyond a broader one into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Politico’s Kyle Cheney that the Flynn issue is “taking care of itself.” According to CNN’s Manu Raju, House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes says his committee will not investigate Flynn, and is more interested in learning how the contents of his conversations were leaked. “I want to hear from the FBI as to how this got out," he said.

With congressional Republicans divided on the issue, McConnell’s words are possibly the strongest indication of if and how the Senate will move forward on this.