Republicans call for probe of Russian ties to Trump campaign
The possibility of a special Senate probe loomed Wednesday as President Trump dodged questions about reported Russian ties to his campaign - while fuming that the information was "illegally leaked."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said a select committee should be convened if senior Russian intelligence officials were in contact with Trump campaign advisers, as reported by the New York Times.
"It's time for us to look into all things related to Russia's involvement in 2016," Graham told reporters, referring to last year's presidential election.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also turned up the heat on the White House, saying ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn - whose security clearance was suspended following his Monday resignation - should testify before Congress. "Let's get everything out as quickly as possible on this Russia issue," Corker told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"Maybe there's a problem that obviously goes much deeper than what we now suspect."
Trump blasted the "Russian connection non-sense" on Twitter, then avoided discussing the controversy by passing over reporters from mainstream news outlets and ignoring shouted questions at a White House news conference.
But Trump maintained the leaked reports were the result of law-breaking, saying, "From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked."
"It's criminal action. It's a criminal act and it's been going on for a long time before me, but now it's really going on," he said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier in the day, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told CNN that any leakers "need to be purged" from the intelligence community "because we can't function from a national security standpoint if we have that spillage."
Trump also praised Flynn less than 48 hours after his resignation and tried to pin blame for his ouster on the media.
"Michael Flynn - General Flynn - is a wonderful man," Trump said. "I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media - as I call it, the fake media, in many cases - and I think it's a really sad thing that he was treated so badly."
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn was forced out over an "eroding level of trust" after he "misled the vice president and others" regarding his pre-inauguration phone conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn's security clearance was suspended Tuesday by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he headed before being ousted by President Obama in 2014.
With Post wire services