Thursday, 29 June, 2017

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein stands by critical memo on Comey

Robert Mueller the new scourge of the Trump White House.     EPA  Jim Lo Scalzo Robert Mueller the new scourge of the Trump White House. EPA Jim Lo Scalzo
Kenny Thornton | 20 May, 2017, 05:57

Congressional investigations related to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election are likely to be complicated or stalled by the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel investigating the same topic, despite pledges by some lawmakers to forge ahead.

Last week, a memo drafted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was held up by the White House as justification for the firing of Comey, who had been leading the investigation. His lawyer said on Thursday that Flynn had not yet decided how to respond. Despite the president's furious reaction, some fellow Republicans welcomed Mueller's appointment and expressed hopes it would restore some composure to a capital plunged in chaos.

The White House counsel was notified after the special counsel order was signed and soon before it was publicly announced.

Did he urge Comey at a February meeting to drop his probe of the Russian Federation connections of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn?

President Trump has insisted he is not the one under investigation, but that could easily change.

The counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion by the campaign of President Donald Trump with Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections has become a criminal probe, several USA senators said after a briefing Thursday.

Mueller's status will grant him, among other powers, the authority to subpoena documents (such as Comey's notes) and any relevant tapes from the White House (if they exist).

Trump categorically denied he asked Comey to drop his probe of Flynn, whom he fired on February 14 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence, about the extent of his conversations previous year with Russia's ambassador. That includes any links between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation, as well as "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation", according to the letter appointing him.

"I'm sure he's going to try to say it's a partisan effort but I don't think Mueller's going to be viewed as a partisan guy", said Sen.

Trump told Russians that firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him
Some congressional Republicans have also suggested that Mueller's appointment would lead to changes in Congress' investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticizing Comey.

Bash was giddy as he touted how Mueller "has a very broad mandate" and "can investigate not just ties between Russian Federation and Trump, but 'any other matters that arise.'" He concluded: "That's a very expansive phrase.that gives him a broad mandate to investigate obstruction of justice and other matters".

Members who attended Friday's briefing said Rosenstein was otherwise "very guarded" and "frustratingly cautious", deferring many answers to being under the purview of the recently appointed special counsel, Robert Mueller."It's clear he just wanted to defer to Mueller on everything tough", said one Democratic lawmaker inside the room.

Trump strongly disagreed. The appointment, he said in a briefing with news anchors, "hurts our country terribly".

The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and who exactly made the decision.

By Wednesday, leaders from the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees had sent requests to both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the White House for all records pertaining to Comey's conversations with Trump.

Committee leaders have already been having talks with senior Justice Department officials to "deconflict" their efforts - but lawmakers worry that if Mr Mueller widens the scope of his investigation, they may have few witnesses at their disposal. "My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination", he said.

"I'm fine with whatever people want to do", he added.

"I wrote it. I believe it". Rosenstein denounced that as "profoundly wrong and unfair".

Asked if he thought he had done anything to warrant criminal charges or impeachment as some on the left have demanded, the Republican president replied: "I think it's totally ridiculous".

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