Thursday, 29 June, 2017

Some Senators Worry Special Counsel Will Hurt Their Ability To Investigate Russia

Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 19:02

Trump yet again called the entire investigation a "witch hunt" and stated there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation, but he did add a disclaimer this time.

"Certainly, I think Congress's ability to investigate this process fully is going to be hampered", said Sen.

Following a almost two-hour, all-senators briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Graham said the appointment of special counsel means Congress is "pretty well knocked out of the game, and that's probably the way it should be". But he disputed early White House claims that a memo Rosenstein had written that was critical of Comey had been the genesis of Trump's decision to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation head.

Rosenstein will give House members a similar briefing Friday morning.

Trump is leaving today for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, which aides hope can have the effect of refocusing a White House in disarray.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!" he added later, without providing examples.

Rosenstein's admission came during a closed-door briefing for all 100 senators where he addressed the latest questions arising from a stream of controversy surrounding Comey's dismissal and the investigation into Russian interference into last year's election. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was seen as the front-runner.

He leapt to make the point again at a joint news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, describing the development as a distraction.

Trump also denied asking fired FBI Director James Comey to cease looking into any connections his fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had with Russian Federation.

Even Republicans who had said they were opposed to the creation of a new investigator signaled support of the move. Sen.

US Deputy AG Rosenstein to Brief House Members on Trump-Russia Probe
First, it's crucial to distinguish between a "special counsel", such as this is, and an "independent counsel". Flynn, Trump's fired national security adviser, is a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation.

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt", he declared, echoing one of the tweets he'd sent out just after dawn: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"I want to see the Senate Intelligence Committee get to their conclusion, issue a report so we can start addressing the challenges facing this nation", he said.

Pearl thinks it would be the same result if President Trump decides to fire Mueller. "The biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to move forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation".

Trump's position on the matter stands in direct contrast with the posture of nearly all lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, who have received Mueller's appointment favourably. It was made, I had questions about it, I honor it.

And Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, who had been considered a contender for FBI director but removed himself from the running, said he thought senators were taking the investigation "enormously seriously". Trump himself had already contradicted that explanation, telling interviewers earlier that he had already chose to dismiss Comey.

He offered new justifications for his decision on Thursday, even while referring to the Rosenstein memo as "a very, very strong recommendation".

A key issue Mueller may have to tackle is whether Trump has committed obstruction of justice, an offense that could be used in any effort in the Republican-led Congress to impeach him and remove him from office.

"That was a poor, poor performance", Trump said.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Trump said.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said his group would probably "have a hard time finding a lane now", and that when it comes to his panel's probe, Mueller's appointment "probably well shuts it down".

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