House Speaker Welcomes Flynn Resignation, But Congress Has More Questions
Addressing the resignation of President Trump's national security adviser, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Michael Flynn had lost the president's trust and he was right to ask for Flynn's resignation.
Flynn resigned Monday night following reports that he had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia prior to Trump's inauguration — and then misled then-Vice President-elect Pence about that conversation.
"National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has," Ryan told reporters in a weekly briefing. He added, "I think the key is this: That as soon as this person lost the president's trust, the president asked for his resignation, and that was the right thing to do."
Before the resignation, press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House was "evaluating the situation" with regards to Flynn — comments that contradicted remarks a short time earlier when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC the president had "full confidence" in Flynn. The White House has not said that Trump asked for Flynn's resignation. Trump did not answer questions about Flynn when asked by pool reporters at an education listening session on Tuesday morning.
Many Republicans are making it clear that Flynn's resignation is not the end of the story for them.
In a statement, Republican Sen. John McCain thanked Gen. Flynn for his "many years of distinguished service to our country," but called the resignation "a troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus." He called on the president to find a replacement who is "empowered by clear lines of authority and responsibility and possesses the skills and experience necessary to organize the national security system across our government."
Flynn has temporarily been replaced by retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee should talk to Flynn "very soon."
"I think everybody needs that investigation to happen," Blunt in an interview with KTRS radio, CNN reports. "And the Senate Intelligence Committee, again that I serve on, has been given the principle responsibility to look into this, and I think that we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn't reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions."
Senate Democrats have called for a "full classified briefing by all relevant agencies, including the Department of Justice and the FBI, as soon as possible and certainly before Thursday, February 16." Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Elijah Cummings of Maryland called Flynn "unfit" to be national security adviser and said he should have been dismissed weeks ago.
"We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks," their joint statement said. "We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security."