House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he expects embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn to keep his job amid controversy over his talks with the Russian ambassador.
“It just seems like there’s a lot of nothing there,” Nunes told Bloomberg News on Monday.
“There is no question that Flynn has been a change agent … which is why I believe Trump likes him,” Nunes added. "[Flynn’s] in a Catch-22 situation. Did he have substantive conversations? No. It’s easy to play ‘gotcha.’”
Nunes added that he is “very comfortable” with Flynn advising Trump on Russia, despite reports that Flynn talked about sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the president took office.
“He knows of the danger that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin poses,” he said, claiming Flynn’s appearance at several weekend events with Trump shows the president’s faith in him.
Nunes said the people leaking details about Flynn to reporters oppose Trump's campaign promise to "drain the swamp."
“[They] want the swamp to remain and they know that Flynn is not going to let the swamp remain,” Nunes said.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Monday that Trump has “full confidence” in Flynn amid scrutiny over the former Army lieutenant general’s phone calls in December. But later on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump is "evaluating the situation."
Reports emerged last week that Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Two U.S. officials told the Washington Post Feb. 9 that Flynn led Kislyak to believe that the sanctions imposed by former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaConservative media struggles with new prominence under Trump Speculation grows over Trump FCC pick Graham: Left is 'going insane' after Trump's win MORE would be reconsidered once Trump entered office.
“Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” one official said.
The Obama administration imposed fresh sanctions on Russia in December, after allegations that Russian-backed hackers tried to sway the 2016 presidential race in Trump's favor.
Flynn reportedly expects to stay in his position, but Democrats are pouncing on his reported talks with Kislyak.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday urged Trump to fire Flynn immediately over his reported behavior.
“Michael Flynn’s conduct was alarming enough before his secret communications with the Russians were exposed,” she said in a statement. "National security demands that General Flynn be fired immediately.”
The Post’s report last week seemingly contradicts several administration officials — including Vice President Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PencePence meets his 'second-favorite Ron and Nancy' Sanford: 'Testosterone can get you in trouble' Flynn discussed how to 'whisk' away cleric wanted by Turkey: report MORE — who have denied that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Flynn has since reportedly apologized to Pence.