Special counsel pick could boost faith in Justice Dept.

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 19, 2017

House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi welcomed the appointment of a special counsel in the Russian Federation probe involving President Donald Trump but said on Thursday an independent commission was still needed to guard against political pressure from the White House. He denied this as well. Before he leaves Washington, he is scheduled to appear at a joint news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia Thursday afternoon.

Rosenstein's 2:30 p.m. briefing with the Senate was scheduled before he announced late Wednesday that he was appointing Robert Mueller, a former prosecutor who served as FBI director from 2001 to 2013, to take over the Russian Federation investigation as special counsel.

The leaders of the House Russia investigation, Rep. Mike Conaway and Rep. Adam Schiff, announced Thursday that they sent a formal request to the FBI seeking records of Comey's discussions with Trump.

Blumenthal said Trump's angry tweets were an attempt to intimidate a newly appointed prosecutor who will investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's attempt to influence the US elections. He tweeted: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country".

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.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said Trump is "not going to be able to jive his way out" of the Mueller-led investigation.

But Trump's claim ignored impeachment efforts and blistering verbal attacks on previous presidents and other political leaders.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump called Comey weeks after he took office on January 20 and asked him when federal authorities were going to say Trump was not under investigation. "Mr. Rosenstein has done the right thing", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on the Senate floor.

"I do think that the special prosecutor provides a sense of calm and confidence perhaps for the American people, which is incredibly important". Trump wrote on Thursday morning.

Rosenstein briefed senators on Thursday but made no public comments.

Rosenstein was originally invited by the two Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democrat Chuck Schumer of NY, to explain Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The situation is similar to the investigation into whether officials in President George W. Bush's administration leaked the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to reporters.

Others are already considering leaving, and allies due to join the administration say they are holding off.

Rosenstein may have blunted some of the criticism of his actions in the last week with his special counsel announcement Wednesday.

At the center of the political firestorm are Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort, and their multiple undisclosed contacts with Russian officials during and after the vote.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin, amid accusations from United States intelligence that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a sweeping campaign to tilt the vote in the Republican's favor.

"In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter", Rosenstein said.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said he was supportive of investigations in Congress but expressed concern about the "proliferation" of hearings.

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