McMullin weighs in on claims Trump’s campaign staff had contact with Russian officials

Posted at 10:05 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 09:56:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- While Utah’s delegation to Washington D.C. remains silent on new claims that President Donald Trump’s senior campaign staff had contact with Russian government officials, a prominent Utah political figure is lashing out.

"This is alarming. It's hard to understate how alarming that is,” Evan McMullin said on CNN Wednesday.

McMullin is a former CIA operative, a BYU grad, and a past presidential hopeful who grabbed 21 percent of the vote in Utah in 2016.

McMullin said he believes the U.S. Intelligence community does not trust President Trump to handle classified information and may believe the president is a security risk.

"We have an American president who ran a campaign that was assisted by a foreign adversary, our greatest foreign adversary, and during that period his team had constant contact with Russian officials, according to the New York Times, with Russian intelligence officers," McMullin said. "I cannot stress how uncommon and how concerning this is."

McMullin isn’t the only Republican sounding the alarm.

"I think most Americans have a right to know,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in reference to the president’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his ties to Russia.

"I think the best way we can do that is to look at everything that a reasonable person would think you would want to look at,” said Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The committee has an ongoing investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 investigation. Blunt said it’s likely Flynn will be called to testify.

President Trump has complained the new claims about his staff are coming from leaks within the U.S. intelligence community. He tweeted on Wednesday:

"The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!"

McMullin addressed that point as well.

"Donald Trump can make his complaint, but that should not overshadow the underlying issue here, which is we have our largest, most significant foreign adversary undermining our democracy, trying to influence the election on behalf of our now president," he said.

McMullin, a former CIA operative himself, went further, explaining why he believes there are leaks.

“I think intelligence officers are caught between the oath that they take when they start their service, which says they'll defend the country, they'll defend the Constitution from domestic and foreign enemies, OK, so they see a risk here, they see a security threat coming from the White House,” McMullin said.

Representatives Bishop, Love, Stewart and Chaffetz have been largely silent on whether or not further investigation is needed into the president’s team and possible ties to Russia. The same can be said for Senators Hatch and Lee.

Congressman Chaffetz has asked the inspector general to look into how the White House is handling classified information as well as leaks both from the White House and the U.S. intelligence community.