House Intel Dem: ‘It Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ If Trump Had Flynn Talk Sanctions

Cliff Owen/FR170079 AP

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if President Donald Trump directed his former national security adviser Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with a Russian ambassador.

“This is consistent with the President’s view of things and view of Russia, his desire to do away with any impediment to our relationship,” Schiff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.”

He cited Trump’s comments on Wednesday calling Flynn a “wonderful man” and complaining that the media treated him “very unfairly.”

“If you take him at his words today, that he thinks Mike Flynn is a wonderful man and that he’s been mistreated, that also suggests that he was acting appropriately,” Schiff said. “He was acting at least if not at the direct wishes of the President, certainly aligned with what the President wanted to see happen.”

Flynn resigned as national security adviser late Monday, days after reports revealed that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.

This contradicted members of Trump’s administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, who previously denied that Flynn and the Russian ambassador talked about sanctions on their call.

Schiff said it “would be exceptional” for Flynn to take those actions “as a complete free or rogue agent” without some kind of official approval.

“And of course the Russians appear to have acted on Flynn’s suggestions,” he said. “They didn’t respond, they didn’t retaliate, very out of character for Russia, and of course that begs the question, was this based on a deliberate policy coming out of the White House.”

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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