Top Dem downplays Pakistan strain

A top House Democrat predicted Tuesday that U.S. relations with Pakistan will remain favorable following the death of Osama bin Laden.

"We recognize that this relationship has been strained," Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, told reporters during a short press conference at the Capitol. "But nonetheless we also recognize its strategic importance and the need for us to work together."

A White House official said Monday that it's "inconceivable" that Pakistan was not providing a "support system" for the notorious al Qaeda leader, who was killed Sunday by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, roughly 30 miles north of the capital city of Islamabad. Pakistani officials were not told beforehand of the attack on bin Laden's compound, the White House said.

"People are raising a number of questions," said Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, "and understandably so."

Those concerns were echoed by Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who also raised questions Monday about whether Pakistan was complicit in hiding bin Laden. The Michigan Democrat said it's "hard to imagine" the Pakistani government wasn't aware the 9/11 mastermind was living in the sprawling Abbottabad compound, just miles from a Pakistan military academy. 

Pakistani officials, Levin warned, “have some explaining to do.”

Larson, however, was quick to downplay the tension between the two countries.

"Let us hope — and certainly the words coming out of the Pakistani government have been encouraging — that we'll work together going forward, and I think that's the common goal that we're looking for," he said.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending Hillicon Valley: Sweeping new data rules take effect | Facebook, Google already hit with complaints | Schumer slams reported ZTE deal | Senators look to save cyber post | Dem wants answers about Trump's phone security Senators express concern over Trump's decision to scrap top cyber post MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Armed Services panel, has also been careful to note the strategic importance of Pakistan in the U.S. battle against Islamic terrorism.

“This incident [shows] Pakistan is a critical but uncertain ally," Collins said Monday.