Russia Scandal Deepens as GOP Leaders Pile on With Questions, Investigations

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By Emily Zanotti | 6:18 pm, February 15, 2017

Senate Republicans may be looking to launch a deeper investigation into former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s relationship with Russian officials, opening a new front in the White House’s war to control public relations in the wake of Flynn’s resignation.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Republican Bob Corker, said the public wants a full picture of Russian’s “meddling” in the 2016 election, and wants it fast. And now,  Corker tells POLITICO,  he may want to expand the investigations to include Flynn’s highly irregular conversations with the Russian ambassador over sanctions.

(There are currently no fewer than four Congressional investigations of Russia underway.)

Furthermore, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s also concerned about the timeline of Flynn’s resignation, how quickly the White House acted, and how involved administration members may have been in facilitating Flynn’s call to Russia. Senators John Cornyn and Roy Blunt, both Republicans, suggested that Flynn might be called to testify in front of Congress.

One lifelong Republican in Ohio, a former judge not in Congress, even suggested that Donald Trump resign over the affair.

Of course, most prominent Republicans are tempering their criticisms by insisting they will also look into whether leaks from the White House or intelligence agencies, which put Flynn’s misdirection into the public light, were intentional.

All this comes as the White House ends its second day attempting to answer difficult questions about Flynn, and how quickly administration officials knew that something was amiss.

Members of the Trump campaign team and top advisers, according to the New York Times, were in contact with Russian officials throughout the Presidential election process. But a deeper investigation revealed that American intelligence officials could not find any larger purpose to those conversations, and couldn’t piece together an end game.

And yet, there are plenty of Trump proclamations that raise suspicion of a larger relationship with Vladmir Putin’s team.

Weirder still, it emerged Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence was in the dark for two full weeks that Mike Flynn might have been less-than-truthful in their conversations about Flynn’s Russian dealings. It wasn’t until Pence read that Flynn had purportedly lied about sanctions talk that he realized he’d been fooled.

During those two weeks, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was reportedly instrumental in pushing Trump to dump Flynn. But it wasn’t until both Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon – two aides that are always rumored to be at odds with each other – jointly suggested Flynn resign that his letter was finally drafted and submitted.

Republicans weren’t satiated, however, by the revelations that Trump’s internal team was united behind a plan to oust the controversial former lieutenant general – and they may be right that the affair has yet to taper off. Thursday, Trump was still convinced that it was the media, and not Flynn, who ultimately caused the kerfuffle.

Investigations are due to resume next week.