WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Friday after President-elect Donald Trump announced Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn would serve as his national security advisor:
“I honor General Mike Flynn’s three decades of service to the United States as part of our Armed Forces. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns regarding General Flynn’s temperament, worldview, and potential conflicts of interest should he serve in one of the highest national security positions in our federal government.
“As a staunch critic of Russia’s approach to the liberal democratic process, human rights, sovereignty and the rule of law, I am disturbed by General Flynn’s relationships and ties with Russian actors. I am concerned about General Flynn’s relationship with RT, a television network funded by the Russian government and well-known for promoting the Kremlin’s political agenda, but which Flynn has characterized as no different than CNN or MSNBC. General Flynn was paid to attend RT’s 10-year anniversary gala in Russia, where he gave a talk on world affairs and was photographed sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin – a photograph Mr. Putin has used repeatedly to promote his own causes.
“My concerns with General Flynn are not limited to Russia. I have serious questions about the fact that while General Flynn was sitting in on the classified national security briefings given to Donald Trump since August 2016, his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group, was providing foreign government clients with ‘all-source intelligence support.’
“And to say that General Flynn has made inflammatory remarks about Islam understates the severity and insensitivity of his words. He has called the religion of Islam a “malignant cancer” and claimed that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” At a time when our nation is working with a broad coalition, including Muslim-majority countries, to defeat ISIL and prevent future terrorist attacks, this kind of rhetoric hurts our national security priorities.
“General Flynn has also been involved in controversies that have affected other religions and groups. Earlier this year, he retweeted an anti-Semitic Twitter message, and was later forced to apologize.
“The United States of America deserves a National Security Adviser who can bring precision and focus to the national security threats facing the United States, not biases and baggage from the darkest corners of American political discourse. I implore President-elect Trump to search further into the deep reserve of seasoned national security professionals and choose someone in whom the American people can place their confidence.”