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In US Democrats demand to know who else at the White House is a national risk

As scandal swirled around Trump’s new White House, Republicans in Congress were almost silent on the resignation of Flynn and its implications.

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US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House as he returns from his weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago play

US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House as he returns from his weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago

(AFP)

Democrats hold no levers of power in Washington, but they have pulled out their megaphones to demand that Michael T. Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser open the first chapter — not the last — of investigations into contacts between Trump aides and Moscow — during and after Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

In a joint statement, Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said, “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. We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security.”

They continued: “While Congressional Republicans have turned a blind eye to their constitutional duty to conduct oversight on these issues, we Democrats believe that this new disclosure warrants a full classified briefing by all relevant agencies, including the Department of Justice and the F.B.I., as soon as possible and certainly before Thursday, Feb. 16. We are communicating this request to the Department of Justice and F.B.I. this evening.

The Democratic National Committee reiterated the party’s call for an independent, bipartisan panel styled after the 9/11 Commission to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, the lead Democrat on the CIA subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee, was blunt: “For the sake of our nation’s future, our intelligence and law enforcement community must determine whether Donald Trump’s loyalties lie with us or with the Russians.”

As scandal swirled around Trump’s new White House, Republicans in Congress were almost silent on the resignation of Flynn and its implications.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes of California, a Trump loyalist, released one of the few statements from the Republican side of the aisle, and it offered no criticism: “Michael Flynn served in the U.S. military for more than three decades. Washington, D.C., can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn — who has always been a soldier, not a politician — deserves America’s gratitude and respect for dedicating so much of his life to strengthening our national security. I thank him for his many years of distinguished service.”

One exception, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, who threw his not very heavy weight behind a bipartisan commission.

“@MarkHalperin hits key point on @Morning_Joe: Republicans must stand with Dems for full investigation into Gen. Flynn and Russia connect,” Steele posted on Twitter.

Although the White House was warned a month ago that Flynn had been untruthful about the nature of his contacts with Moscow, he was allowed into security briefings as recently as Monday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on the “Today” show on Tuesday.

The Justice Department had warned the White House weeks ago that Flynn’s dissembling put him at risk of blackmail from Russian intelligence, but he was kept by the president’s side.

“That’s one characterization,” Conway said when confronted with those circumstances.

Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States are not in question, nor is his trip to Moscow to fete the Russian propaganda network RT — sitting next to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin — but Moscow said Tuesday that his resignation was a domestic matter unconnected to the Kremlin.

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