The 10 most galling Republican responses to the Michael Flynn scandal (so far)
Michael Flynn’s abrupt resignation from the National Security Council has reignited a controversy that has followed Donald Trump since he was elected president, with scores of Democrats calling for a special investigation into the administration’s possible ties to the Kremlin. But with a few notable exceptions, those calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with a Republican Party that has proven time and again it is willing to accommodate scandal and disgrace so long as it doesn’t impede its exercise of power. Senator Rand Paul even suggested the matter didn’t merit further inquiry, because it would require that Republicans investigate a fellow Republican.
Here are 10 of the more galling responses to the Flynn scandal so far.
1. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY)
Collins, the first congressman to endorse Trump, actually theorized that Valentine’s Day was responsible for the eerie silence on Capitol Hill.
“You have a man of Flynn’s stature resign and in his own letter saying that he misled, maybe even lied to other members of the White House—why’s everybody so quiet?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Collins Tuesday morning.
“Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I guess they’re having breakfast with their wives,” Collins reasoned. “Really, all I can say is, I’m sorry to see General Flynn go. I don’t know the details of what transpired. I do know General Flynn, I know that he’s a very loyal to President Trump, I do know he’s a great American.”
2. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
“In this case, the coverup was worse than the crime,” Kinzinger told Fox News. “It’s arguably or questionably a crime, probably not.”
Meanwhile, one-time George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum said the former Republican president most likely would have had Flynn arrested.
3. Sen. John Barasso (R-WY)
While the Wyoming congressman backed Flynn’s resignation, he quickly thwarted talk of Russian hacking during his CNN appearance Tuesday morning.
“Is it too late for a full-scale investigation into that hacking, because we really haven’t heard President Trump call for that,” MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle asked Barasso.
“Well there’s continuing to be efforts to prevent additional attacks, but I think, in the whole area of cyber, again, it’s not just Russia, we see this around the world,” he told her.
4. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
After Rep. Chris Collins appeared on “New Day,” Alisyn Camerota cross-examined his statements with her own GOP guest.
“Do you agree that it’s time to move on, or do you think that as Congressman Conyers (D-MI) and [Elijah] Cummings (D-MD) have just said, We in Congress need to know who authorized Flynn’s actions, permitted them and continue to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information, despite knowing the risks,” she asked,
Thune took Collins’ side.
“These things happen, and particularly in a new administration,” he said, noting his main concern is seeing the National Security office find someone to fill Flynn’s post.
5. Charles Krauthammer
The Fox News commentator echoed Kinzinger’s sentiment, and took it further still.
“This is a coverup without a crime,” he said. “The idea that one should be all aghast because the incoming national security advisor spoke with the Russian ambassador and spoke about sanctions seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. The idea that it was illegal is preposterous.”
6. Kellyanne Conway
Conway also wanted to “move on” from the Flynn scandal, particularly when confronted by “The Today Show’s” Matt Lauer, who called out her inconsistences Tuesday morning.
“Yesterday afternoon on MSNBC you said that Michael Flynn enjoyed the full confidence of the president. [White House press secretary] Sean Spicer later said the president was evaluating the situation, and then Michael Flynn resigns overnight. Were you out of the loop on this?” Lauer asked Conway.
“No, not at all. Both were true,” Conway answered. “The president is very loyal, he’s a very loyal person, and by night’s end Michael Flynn had decided it was best to resign. He knew he’d become a lightening rod and he made that decision.”
But Lauer wasn’t about to let Conway off the hook.
“You’re saying that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the White House knew about that last month when the Justice Department warned the White House that [Flynn] had not been completely honest,” Lauer said. “Kellyanne, that makes no sense!”
7. White House press secretary Sean Spicer
Spicer attributed Flynn’s resignation to a lack of “trust,” but dodged legal questions during Tuesday’s White House briefing, a tactic even Fox News found odd.
“This was an act of trust, whether or not he actually misled the vice president with the issue, and that was ultimately what led to the president asking for and accepting the resignation of General Flynn,” Spicer said. “That’s it, pure and simple, it was a matter of trust.”
8. House Speaker Paul Ryan
“National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has,” Ryan announced in his weekly briefing. “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.”
When asked if he believed trust was the key factor behind Flynn’s resignation, Ryan told reporters, “I’m not going to prejudge any of the circumstances surrounding us until we have all of the information.”
9. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Chaffetz, who, as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has vowed to continue his investigation of Hillary Clinton, declared Tueday he would not be looking into the Flynn affair.
“I think that situation has taken care of itself,” Chaffetz told reporters. “I know that the intel committee was looking into the hacking issue previously.”
10. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Paul, like Chaffetz, felt the Flynn situation had been “handled,” and that further investigations may be “excessive.”
“I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party,” Paul told the “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show. “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”