The firing of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn was a politically motivated hit job orchestrated by opponents of the president still in the administration and their media allies, according to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tx.), who told a small gathering of reporters on Thursday that highly classified information was "weaponized to advance a political agenda."
Cruz, speaking on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, made reference to a Washington Free Beacon report last week disclosing how former Obama administration holdovers and loyalists spread classified information to their allies in the media as part of an effort to handicap the Trump administration's national security apparatus.
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These leaks, Cruz said, constitute a "federal crime" and should worry all American citizens about the status of America's intelligence community, which has been accused of leaking information to undermine Trump.
Flynn's phone calls with Russian officials, which took place before he officially entered the White House, do not appear to violate any law. Yet the release of classified information about them certainly is a crime, Cruz said.
"The circumstances about the Flynn leaks are distressing. Releasing the details of intercepted conversations with foreign ambassadors is not the ordinary sort of leak that Washington was built on," Cruz said. "It is a federal crime."
"Those are highly classified for good reason. Releasing that information no doubt undermined our national security, and whoever released it, among other things, has informed the Russians … about our sources and methods, and what is and isn't secure," he added.
Referring to the Free Beacon‘s report about a campaign by Obama administration loyalists to undermine Flynn as part of an effort to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, Cruz said it is "highly disturbing to see classified information being released to advance a political agenda."
No other American official has been treated in a similar manner, Cruz said.
"Throughout the presidential campaign, we never saw a transcript of any of Hillary Clinton's conversations about Benghazi released, and you know what? We shouldn't have."
"I don't know if there is such a transcript [of Flynn's call] or not, but if it is, it is surely classified, and any citizen should be concerned about classified intelligence materials being weaponized to advance a political agenda, and that appears to be exactly what happened with the attacks on General Flynn."
Cruz said the House and Senate would both conduct investigations into the leaks of Flynn's calls.
"My understanding is both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee are going to be investigating those leaks and I think it's quite appropriate to do so," Cruz said.
While Cruz did not lay blame on reporters for printing the leaks, he maintained that "the media is creating a false and absurd narrative" regarding Flynn's behavior.
It was "perfectly normal for him [Flynn] to be having conversations with ambassadors," Cruz said. "I'm confident every newly appointed national security adviser in the history of our country had conversations with foreign ambassadors. If you're not, you're not doing your job."
The media created a narrative that Flynn had behaved inappropriately and potentially illegally, Cruz said.
"What's conveyed by the media is there's something untoward about the national security adviser having a conversation with a foreign ambassador," he said. "That's the job of the national security adviser. The reason General Flynn lost his job was not, as I understand it, the contents of the conversation, but it was rather that he was less than truthful with the vice president about it."
Speaking about the Iran nuclear deal, Cruz said he disagreed with President Donald Trump's desire to retain the deal.
"My hope is that the Trump administration vigorously enforces the agreement," he said. "If it were me, I'd scrap the deal entirely."
Iran, Cruz added, is "almost certainly" violating the agreement.