A group of Congressional Democrats from Illinois are calling for an independent investigation into the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who stepped down Monday amid allegations of improper communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Flynn allegedly misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the ambassador regarding sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama for Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Cheri Bustos are now calling for a probe into the controversy.
According to the White House, President Donald Trump was aware that Flynn misled Pence about the conversations with the Russian ambassador, but waited nearly three weeks before ousting the retired Army Lietenant General. The Democrats now want to know what Trump’s team knew and when.
Following a meeting Tuesday with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Sen. Durbin called for an independent commission to investigate the Flynn situation, as well as further ties between Trump’s team and the Russian government.
“It is hard to imagine that he was acting alone in his decision to have this communication with the Russian ambassador and it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t previous communications between them,” Durbin told reporters. “How many, under what circumstances, whether they related to the campaign, we won’t know until we have an independent study of this.”
Durbin said he doesn’t expect Congressional Republicans, who hold a majority in the Senate and the House, to initiate an investigation.
Rep. Bustos spoke on the House floor Wednesday, pushing for more information on the “shady ties” between Trump’s camp and the Russian government.
Three people who were affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign — Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — are currently being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community for their communications with the Russian government, according to the New York Times.
“We still don't know President Trump’s financial interests in Russia because he refuses to release his tax returns,” she said. “We still don't know the extent of Russia’s disturbing interference in our election because out calls for an investigation have been stonewalled.”
“And we just learned that the Trump campaign was in regular conversation with Russian intelligence officials,” the congresswoman added.
In January, The U.S. Intelligence community confirmed that a covert Russian operation worked to undermine the presidential election and aid Trump’s candidacy by hacking the Democratic National Committee and members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Obama’s sanctions were handed down as a response to the attacks.
Bustos said Trump’s perceived “coziness” with Russian President Vladimir Putin is an “urgent matter of national security.”
“It is time for the Trump administration to truly put America first, rather than the Kremlin,” Bustos told her fellow Congressmen.
On Tuesday, Sen. Duckworth claimed Flynn’s actions “betrayed our country’s interests” before urging the Trump administration to disclose what they knew about the controversy.
“The American people deserve a full and transparent accounting of what President Trump and his top aides knew and when they knew it,” Duckworth said in a statement. “If the president cannot and will not provide those answers, Congress must use its authority as a coequal branch of government to fully investigate why."
In addition, Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, who has stood by Trump’s stifled travel ban, said he would be “looking into this matter more closely” Wednesday.
“Russian attempts to infiltrate and undermine democratic institutions across the western world are of grave concern to me,” Roskam said in a statement. "I’ve led solidarity missions to Ukraine and Georgia and spent time with their diaspora communities in Illinois and across the United States. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends and allies who suffer the consequences of Russian aggression and intimidation."
“I’m deeply troubled to learn former National Security Advisor Flynn misled the Vice President. He was fired – and deservedly so,” he added.