Flake: 'Conspiracy theorist' Flynn never belonged as national security adviser

Flake: 'Conspiracy theorist' Flynn never belonged as national security adviser
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Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.) slammed President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn in an interview aired Thursday, calling him a "conspiracy theorist" unfit to serve in such an office.

Flake told former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on the podcast "Stay Tuned with Preet" that he was generally pleased with Trump's national security team, singling out Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Most VA workers find racism 'moderate to serious problem' at facilities l Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war: report Trump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe four China strategies Trump or Biden will need to consider Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet How the US could respond to Russia's support of the Taliban MORE for praise.

But Flake promptly denounced Flynn's presence on the National Security Council, panning him as a "conspiracy theorist" and rejecting the notion that he would have voted for him had Flynn needed Senate confirmation.

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"Michael Flynn didn’t come up for a Senate vote," Flake told Bharara, who was fired from his U.S. attorney position by Trump earlier this year. "I said from the beginning, if that were, I wouldn’t have voted for it, that I thought a conspiracy theorist like that doesn’t belong as head of national security."

Flynn's involvement with Trump — first in his campaign and later in his White House — has been an issue of ongoing controversy. During Trump's White House run, Flynn repeatedly promoted conspiracy-laden websites, particularly those pushing false claims about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBlumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Hillary Clinton touts student suspended over crowded hallway photo: 'John Lewis would be proud' MORE.

Flynn was forced to resign from the White House in February, just 24 days into his tenure, after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office.

Flake has long spoken critically of Trump, but has stepped up his rhetoric in recent weeks after announcing last month that he would not seek reelection in 2018. In a speech on the Senate floor announcing his decision, Flake delivered a thinly veiled condemnation of Trump and the populist wing of the GOP that carried him to victory in 2016.