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Sen. Ed Markey On The Trump Campaign's Ties To Russia10:31Download

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Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. speaks about oil speculation during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)MoreCloseclosemore
Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. speaks about oil speculation during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In Washington, Democrats and some Republicans are calling for more extensive investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

This follows the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, after he made misleading statements about his talks with Russian officials last year.

Among the big questions: Did anyone else in the Trump White House know about those talks, and if so, when did they know it?

Appearing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Washington, President Trump voiced concern about the leaks that preceded the firing of his national security adviser, saying, "Gen. Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it's a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think in addition to that, from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It's a criminal action."

But Democrats in Washington say this is about much more than leaks. Among those demanding more answers is Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. He is among 11 Democratic senators calling for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate possible collusion between Trump officials and Russia.

Guest

Ed Markey, senator from Massachusetts. Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He tweets @SenMarkey.

Interview Highlights

On why he's among 11 senators calling for a special prosecutor

"We need to be very concerned that we are very near a full blown constitutional crisis if these allegations are found to be true.

Only a full independent investigation by Congress or independent commission will be able to provide the answers. Because we know already so much about how compromised our national security may have been, we have to get the answers for the American people to understand that our emissaries to the Russian government were not making Russia policy first, rather than American policy in terms of our national security."

On the questions he wants answered

"We wanna know were Trump officials informed about leaked emails that Russia stole from the Democratic National Committee? Did Russian intelligence officials promise anything to Donald Trump in exchange for his flattering comments about President Putin? Did Donald Trump make any commitments to Russia about lifting sanctions that President Obama was imposing upon the Russians?

The American people deserve to have these answers to these questions or they will have little trust that the president and their staff are not subject to Russian influence."

On likelihood Attorney General will agree to 11 senators' request for an independent prosecutor

"Under the guidelines of the Department of Justice, there is a standard which has to be met in order to have any official of the Justice Department make any adjudication of a case, and that standard is that there cannot have been a close political affiliation.

It's clear here that [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions had a very close political affiliation with Michael Flynn as part of the National Security Advisory team and as a result, he should be disqualified. Senator Sessions should recuse himself because of that. But if he does not, then I think that it's gonna be necessary for us to ensure that the pressure is applied to achieve that goal."

On Trump's focus on the leaks

"What the president is trying to avoid is the reality that our security apparatus was actually trying to gather information about the Russian government by tapping into the Russians. That's how they picked up General Flynn, by tapping into the Russians.

It's not something that was deliberately constructed to go after General Flynn. It was incidental to going after Russians and then General Flynn shows up and what he starts to talk about apparently, is a compromise of American security, by sending a signal that sanctions will be relaxed as soon as the Trump Administration is sworn into office.

So they were listening to the Russians and Flynn was talking to the Russians, and that is about as serious a charge as can be waged against any individual in our country. And Donald Trump is just in complete denial. He's trying to make it about the fact that we now know about it rather than the fact that it happened and it's a compromise of our security."

On if more Republicans are moving closer to the idea of a deeper investigation

"I think that there are now some Republicans who understand that they cannot stonewall on this issue ... And so while I'm sure for partisan reasons, that they wanna be loyal to the president, ultimately their loyalty has to be to the American people.

I do believe that the pressure is going to mount and that individual Republican senators will begin to realize that there has to be an open, transparent and public investigation. It might take a little while, but ultimately I think it's going to happen and we're beginning to see some cracks in the Republican position.

... I think Senator McCain, Senator Graham, are already talking in those terms because ultimately it's a love of country, not a partisan issue. And that's how I think many senators are ultimately going to view it."

On if he has concerns about disarray in the Administration

"We should be very concerned. Right now, the Russians are in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement of 1987 and we need a strong position on that ... They are increasingly thinking that they might be able to cut a sweetheart deal for Assad in Syria because of the Trump Administration's desire to have a closer relationship with Putin and the Russian government.

... On top of that, we have American troops stationed all around the Russian border and countries who are serving us and protecting us and many of them come from Massachusetts. So we have an obligation to the troops that come from Massachusetts, that American security is placed in the paramount position and it's not being compromised — and right now, we don't know the answer to that question.

... It's clear that with General Flynn leaving, it's in total disarray at the national security level and the sooner we just get all the facts out there, the faster we'll get to a point where can put our national security in first place once again."

This segment aired on February 15, 2017.

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