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Democrats push for full investigation of Flynn's resignation and Trump administration's ties to Russia

Momentum grew on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a full investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn's dealings with Russia as lawmakers try to determine whether President Trump or others in the administration sanctioned his activities.

Republicans splintered over whether to aggressively investigate the White House's dealings with Russia, but Democrats are pushing for a independent review to assess whether Flynn, who resigned Monday, was acting alone or at the direction of others.

"Gen. Flynn's resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning," said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)

"His resignation raised more questions than answers and the American people deserve to know the truth."

Already Congress has been investigating Russia's role in trying to influence the November election. Republican lawmakers have so far been content to keep the inquiry contained in the congressional Intelligence committees.

But Democrats have pressed for a more robust probe, and Flynn's departure amplified those calls after it was revealed he talked with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. while President Obama was still in the White House. Flynn reportedly discussed the U.S. sanctions that Obama had just levied. He later denied sanctions were discussed.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday he'll "leave it up to the administration" to explain the circumstances around Flynn's phone calls with the Russians and his abrupt firing.

But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said that if Ryan is unwilling to have Congress pursue the issue, "then he should get out of the way and allow an independent commission to look into the matter.”

“Do you hear that? Do you hear the silence?” asked Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Government Oversight Committee. “This is the sound of House Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump. Zero.”

Schumer wants the investigation to grow beyond Congress to an independent prosecutor that could probe potential criminal wrongdoing.

Schumer stopped short of calling for the White House to appoint a special counsel. But he said Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, should recuse himself because of his long ties to the Trump campaign and put an "independent investigative authority in charge."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said an investigation is needed to determine if Flynn acted alone or if others in the White House were aware of his actions.

"My fear is now we will have a shadow national security adviser -- [Bannon -- and his national security vision influencing all of the agencies of government that I mentioned as well as advising the president," said Pelosi, referring to Stephen Bannon, the former Breitbart editor and Trump's chief strategist. "This is deadly, deadly serious, what’s happening now. There’s a chance to right the course.”

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