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Graham questions whether Flynn was 'directed' to discuss sanctions

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel Democracy is the MVP in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday questioned whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn had been "directed" by someone at the White House to talk about sanctions with Russia's ambassador.

“I want to know, did Gen. Flynn do this by himself or was [he] directed by somebody to do it?” Graham asked during an appearance on CNN, noting that he had not seen transcripts of Flynn's communications with the Russian diplomat.

“I’d have a hard time believing that Gen. Flynn would get on the phone with a Russian ambassador and suggest, ‘Don’t worry, we will revisit this when we get to be president in terms of executive sanctions’ without some understanding that the administration would be sympathetic to the idea,” the GOP senator added.

Graham conceded that the former Army lieutenant general may have acted in a "rogue fashion."

"I don't know. He’s a pretty strong-willed fella, but I think most Americans have a right to know whether this was a Gen. Flynn rogue maneuver or was he basically speaking for somebody else in the White House," Graham said.

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Flynn resigned late Monday amid reports he misled senior White House officials about his conversations Russia's ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office. 

The former administration official blamed “the fast pace of events” for why he “inadvertently” gave Vice President Pence and others “incomplete information” about his communications in December.

Pence had defended Flynn publicly, insisting he hadn't discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia in his calls with the ambassador. Flynn reportedly apologized to the vice president over the matter.

The Washington Post reported last week that despite denials, Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions against Russia before Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation after the president’s faith in his adviser “eroded.”

“This is not a legal issue but a trust issue,” Spicer maintained.