Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday said President Donald Trump should return to the White House for a “clean slate” as his administration grapples with a new batch of crises following the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump fired Flynn, who resigned amid controversy over his contacts with Russian officials, after it emerged that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior White House officials about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Flake said in a statement that he wants Trump to return to Washington to be the “presumptive leader” and “the leader of the free world.”
He added that he’s “hopeful that President Trump will do the right thing and return to his daily duties.”
The Arizona Republican, who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters during his 2016 presidential bid, told ABC News that Trump should not be allowed to “take back the Oval office.”
“We need him to come back, because the American people deserve him back,” Flake said.
“He should not have the power of the presidency.
He should be allowed out of the Oval.”
In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Flake said Trump should “step aside and let a clean slate take place” as the Trump administration grappled with the aftermath of the resignation.
Flakes comments came as White House chief of staff Reince Priebus sought to distance the president from Flynn, saying he is “not in any way involved in the decision” to fire Flynn.
“I want to clarify that the President has no involvement with the decision to fire Mr. Flynn,” Priebus said in an email to reporters.
“I spoke with him directly last night and he was not involved in that decision.”
Trump has denied any improper influence in Flynn’s firing.
The White House is struggling to explain why the president fired Flynn amid the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, despite having previously acknowledged to The Associated Press that he had made the decision.
In the days after Flynn was forced to resign, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president was not under investigation by the FBI.
“There’s nothing to that,” Spicer said.
“The president was simply acting in the best interest of the country and that’s all we’re going to say.”
The investigation into the Flynn case has also focused on whether he misled Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who had been scheduled to testify before Congress this week.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Flynn had spoken to Kislyak in late December at Trump Tower in New York.
In a subsequent statement, Flynn’s lawyer said the conversations were a private matter and that the White the President had never discussed any classified information with the Russian ambassador.
The FBI and congressional committees are investigating Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak, and the House Intelligence Committee is also investigating the matter.
The former national intelligence director has been under intense scrutiny in recent days after news outlets reported he misled the president and other top officials about the nature of his conversations and the nature and extent of the communications.
Flynn resigned on Monday following reports that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak before Trump fired him.
He denied any inappropriate contacts with the Russians, but the White on Monday said Flynn had discussed sanctions in private with the vice president and the president’s son.
“The President has consistently said he has no dealings with Russia,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday.
“That was the President’s position from day one.”