Asked on Tuesday morning about the conspicuous silence of Republican leadership about the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) dismissed the scandal.
“Well, it’s Valentine’s Day and I guess they’re having breakfast with their wives,” Collins said during a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo. “Really, all I can say is I’m sorry to see Gen. Flynn go. I don’t know the details of what transpired. I do know Gen. Flynn, I know that he’s very loyal to President Trump, I know he’s a great American.”
Cuomo: Why is GOP so quiet on Flynn?
Rep. Chris Collins: “Well, it’s Valentine’s Day and I guess they’re having breakfast with their wives” pic.twitter.com/zveCGjtkOI
— CNN (@CNN) February 14, 2017
Collins, who served on the Trump transition executive committee and was President-elect Trump’s congressional liaison, went on to repeatedly say he thinks it’s time to “move on” now that Flynn has resigned.
He’s far from the only Republican who thinks that. On Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chair and tireless Benghazi investigator Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said he doesn’t see a need to further investigate Flynn’s pre-inauguration contact with Russian officials, including conversations about Russian sanctions.
Rep Jason Chaffetz R-UT tells reporters there's no need to further probe Flynn. "It’s taking care of itself"
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) February 14, 2017
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes (R-CA) went even further. He said he’s not inclined to pursue an investigation into Flynn, but added that he is interested in investigating the leaks that contributed to Flynn’s resignation.
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) February 14, 2017
Trump also tried to shift focus from the Flynn scandal to leaks on Tuesday morning.
At least one Republican senator is taking the opposite approach. During a radio interview Tuesday morning, Sen. Ray Blunt (R-MO), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he thinks an investigation into Flynn’s Russia connections is needed.
“I think everybody needs that investigation to happen,” Blunt said on KTRS radio, according to CNN. “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.”
As this is published, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still hasn’t commented on Flynn’s resignation. During a news conference Tuesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he thought Flynn’s resignation was “the right thing to do,” but Ryan later “decline[d] to call for congressional investigation into Gen. Flynn,” citing a “need to get more info before rushing to judgment,” according to NBC.
On Monday night, Philip Rucker of the Washington Post reported that a senior White House official told him Flynn “resigned on his own. Trump did not fire him.” The Post previously reported the Trump White House was informed last month by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that “she believed Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
But as late as last Friday, Trump played dumb about the scandal while Flynn continued to serve as national security adviser. Yates, meanwhile, was fired by Trump days after warning the White House about Flynn.
While a number of prominent Republicans say they don’t think further investigation into the Flynn scandal is needed, Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the House Oversight Committee before Chaffetz, acknowledged that partisan motives may be at work.
— Kurt Bardella (@kurtbardella) February 14, 2017