Republican Senators are expressing growing concern regarding the connections between the Trump administration and Russia.
While Republicans have resisted pressure from the Democratic caucus to back a special investigative committee, GOP senators have signaled that they are not closing the door on it either.
“Everybody is unnerved by what they read, but [they are] not going to make decisions based on headlines,” said Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Senator Bob Corker, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also acknowledged that calls for a broad investigation have “gained momentum over the last 48 hours.”
“I am not yet ready to embrace that,” he added referring to a special investigative committee. “It’s fair to say, not specific to a select committee, I am engaging with others to try to figure out the best way, in a full way, to understand what is happening.”
In the wake of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation from the Trump administration over misrepresentations to the Vice President regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador, the administration’s relationship with Russia has received renewed scrutiny.
While the White House has taken the position that Flynn was dismissed because of a lack of trust based on his misrepresentations to Vice President Pence — among others — the actual conversations between the Trump team and various Russian actors has raised concerns in the Senate, including a notable number of Republicans. Revelations surrounding Flynn have caused the already simmering concerns to boil over.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has directed the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate Russia’s role in the presidential election, vetoing calls by Democrats for an independent commission.
Still, the issues are so concerning that there are Republicans, most notably, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who have broken ranks and have called for a select committee to investigate Russian meddling.
“There’s a desire in the conference to follow the facts. There’s believe that Richard Burr will do a good job,” said Graham referring to Republican North Carolina Senator Richard Burr who is Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “But if this thing expands in terms of the scope of the inquiry, if you get into business relationships, you’re going to need a different” type of investigation.
“If there’s evidence that the Russians were involved in Trump’s campaign inappropriately, tehn that would open up the investigation to finances. Then you’d have to expand,” added Graham.