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 FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment 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 MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration Trump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds 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 ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid 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.