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 FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress 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 MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonScaramucci breaks up with Trump in now-familiar pattern Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 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 ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up 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.