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Washington, Idaho senators call for investigation into Michael Flynn’s Russian contacts

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn boards Air Force One on Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

An investigation is needed into the activities of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, an Idaho Republican and two Washington Democrats in the U.S. Senate agree. There may be some debate coming, however, on how the investigation is conducted.

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said an already pending investigation by that panel into “Russian activities dealing with the election and those matters” will expand to include the activities of Flynn.

“This is going to fall into that,” Risch told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “There is going to be an investigation, there is no question about it.”

Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are both calling for an investigation that goes beyond Flynn’s resignation.

“The reports on what led Mr. Flynn to resign after just 24 days with this administration are deeply disturbing and warrant a lot of answers,” Murray said in a statement relayed by her staff. “It is the obligation of every member of Congress to demand answers about what happened, who was involved, and why.”

In a statement, Cantwell called the situation serious: “I have joined my colleagues in calling for an in-depth investigation that goes beyond Flynn and covers all contact with Russian intelligence officers and government officials.

“There must be an investigation into what happened during the campaign with Russian interference in our election,” she said. “It should also look into whether anyone at the White House covered up any ongoing illegal activity.”

Efforts to reach Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers – who has maintained an uneasy alliance with the president – for comment on revelations about the ties between Trump’s team and Russia were unsuccessful Wednesday. Posts to her social media accounts focused on Republican efforts in Congress to repeal administrative rules during the Barack Obama administration, and did not reference Flynn’s resignation or the reports of Russian communication with Trump’s staff.

Risch made the rounds of news outlets. He told PBS’s Judy Woodruff, “That net is wide enough that it will include the most recent events of the last 48 hours or so. I don’t know where it will lead. Obviously we’re going to take it as far as we can take it – it’s important for national security that we know.”

But when Woodruff asked whether the investigation would cover how President Donald Trump handled the matter – including the White House’s announcement that Trump knew about Flynn’s contacts with Russia weeks before he asked Flynn to step down – Risch demurred.

“The president’s handling of this, I think, is a matter that is a very delicate situation between two branches of government,” Risch said. “It would be very difficult to dig into that. … I’m very reluctant to talk about a collision between the two branches of government on something like this.”

He also echoed Trump in decrying leaks about the matter. “When leaks are political, they probably don’t do much harm. When they are involved with national security, it is a big problem,” Risch said. “It is very dangerous, it is un-American to leak. It puts people’s lives in jeopardy, and it really endangers the United States. Anyone who would leak national security issues should be ashamed of themselves, and they are not a credit to America.”

However, Risch told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that he doesn’t believe leaks have increased with the new administration. “There’s a real cauldron of hate and anger and frustration on the part of the Democrats, who didn’t expect to lose the presidency and they’re struggling with it,” Risch told Cavuto. “And any time anything comes up they’ll make a big deal out of it. Don’t get me wrong – what we’re dealing with is a big deal. … We will deal with this one.”

Risch told CNN that any hearings the committee conducts would be closed to the public, but reports on them could be issued publicly afterward. “I think this has reached a high enough profile that there’s going to have to be some accountability, some kind of report,” he said.

Staff writer Kip Hill contributed to this report.