Has Time Come for Probe into Trump Russia Ties?
AUGUSTA, Maine – The question was made famous during the Watergate scandal: What did the president know and when did he know it? Now, just over three weeks into the Trump administration, some are asking the same question.
National Security Advisor Mike Flynn's apparent lies about contacts with Russia sparked his resignation on Monday. Now, even GOP senators such as John McCain say it's time to investigate President Trump's ties to Russia.
Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, a national grassroots organization with a New England chapter, agrees.
"It's absolutely an important question," he said. "You know, you just look at the president's statements. He's resonating with kind of back-door outreach to the Russians."
Flynn tendered his resignation after the Washington Post reported that then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates warned the administration three weeks ago that Flynn may have been compromised by Russia.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump asked for the resignation, not because of legal issues but trust issues. Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland questioned why Trump said Friday he had not heard of the issue.
Rainwater says Congress needs to probe beyond Flynn, and include what he calls the "extreme" views of Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
"Bannon's views just have no place in the White House," he added. "This is another person with Islamophobic views, with racist views, who's really responsible for the fact that we have something that can honestly be called a Muslim ban."
House Speaker Paul Ryan says it was a good thing Trump accepted Flynn's resignation, and Rainwater agrees.
"Normally, if you had a national security advisor leaving at three weeks, you'd be pretty concerned about the national security of the country," continued Rainwater. "But we live in such strange times that it's a good thing for national security."
House Democrats have called for an investigation into Flynn's Russia ties. Ryan offered no comment as to whether a probe is needed.