Saturday, 27 May, 2017

President Trump says special counsel in Russian Federation investigation 'divides the country'

Trump decries Russia probe as'greatest witch hunt in US history Trump decries Russia probe as'greatest witch hunt in US history
Francis Olson | 20 May, 2017, 02:47

Across town, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein was briefing the Senate about his decision to appoint former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller to lead the independent Trump-Russia probe.

While there are a variety of investigative arms available in Washington, the specific provision Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein used to tap Mueller has been dormant for almost two decades. One could nearly detect a sigh of relief from many lawmakers reacting to the news.Having someone independent take over the investigation was essential due to Trump's poorly timed firing of FBI Director James Comey, his ill-advised comments afterward and worrisome reports that the president tried to talk Comey out of investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has been mentioned in connection with the Russian Federation probe.The widely respected Mueller is an excellent choice and should give all parties involved peace of mind that the probe will be handled fairly.Based on its initial statement on the subject, it seemed as though the White House was doing the right thing and taking the news in stride. Given the sensitivity of the intelligence matters, those newly-assigned to the case will need special security clearances and approvals.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew President Donald Trump was going to fire FBI Director James Comey before he wrote a memo justifying the ouster of the law enforcement chief, Democratic senators said Thursday.

Trump said Thursday during a joint press conference with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, that he respects "the entire thing" but said that he personally has no ties to Russian Federation. But the characterization suggested that the probe had moved from a general inquiry into whether there had been collusion to one that had identified possible suspects. Mr. Trump later acknowledged that he planned to fire Mr. Comey all along, regardless of Mr. Rosenstein's recommendation.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said Rosenstein was asked about the timeline of Comey's firing and essentially replied, "Let the record speak for itself".

"As it became clear how little he was willing to talk about it, it also became clear how broad this investigation that Mueller is about to undertake actually is", Murphy said. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he is determined to press forward with public hearings.

Mueller's appointment has come as Trump fends off reports he shared U.S. secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office, and had asked Comey to drop his investigation into former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn. The reports, based on a memo Comey wrote after their conversation, fueled allegations by Democrats that the Republican president may have been trying to obstruct the investigation. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The meeting, at which all senators were free to ask questions and make statements, had been expected to be contentious as anger flared over Comey's dismissal and Rosenstein's possible role in it.

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The regulations under which Mueller was appointed oblige him to "comply with the rules, regulations, procedures, practices and policies of the Department of Justice".

One question that lingered, however, was how Mueller's appointment and the change in the nature of the probe would affect the multiple congressional investigations underway in the matter. The show's hosts said that during those investigations, there were no calls for impeachment or special counsels.

"So far, there's been no suggestion that we can not continue to go forward", Scalise told reporters.

"There should be no concern with that", said Sen.

"There needs to be a relationship with that investigation where they can say with confidence, 'This really is a problem for us, ' or 'Hey, we'd rather you didn't do it, but it's not a problem, ' " Blunt said. "That's the problem with a special prosecutor".

He said he respected the special counsel appointment but also said it "hurts our country terribly".

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly that Sen Thom Tillis of North Carolina did not attend. "It's going to hamper our ability to get to the bottom of this quickly, I believe".

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