Trump responds to special counsel, calls Russia probe 'single greatest witch hunt'

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 19, 2017

Mueller was named as special counsel on Wednesday, one day after a report surfaced that Trump had requested ex-FBI Director James Comey end any investigations involving National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation. Trump fired Comey on May 9. But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious after Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The former FBI director named to oversee the Justice Department's investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation works at a law firm that represents the president's daughter and two other key campaign figures who have been implicated in the probe.

Trump responded by once again denying any links to Moscow, but the appointment of a special counsel with sweeping powers dramatically raises the stakes in a crisis threatening to paralyze his presidency. "Zero", he told the news conference, standing alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The appointment was a concession by the Trump administration, which had resisted calls from Democrats to turn the investigation over to outside counsel.

In another Twitter post Thursday, Trump said: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!".

"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history", he tweeted on Thursday. "This won't be a witch hunt", he said on CNN. But the disclosure could increase the pressure on Trump and his aides to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Congress with a full account of interactions with Russian officials and others with links to the Kremlin during and immediately after the 2016 election.

Trump fired Flynn on February 14 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations a year ago with Russia's ambassador.

"I'm not sure if he addressed that with the level of clarity that most people wanted to hear", Rubio told reporters. The FBI's counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the US intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude.

That justification was viewed with skepticism by many until Trump said in an interview days later he fired Comey because of his continued probe into Russian interference and collusion in the 2016 campaign and would have fired him regardless of what the Department of Justice recommended. I think it shows division, and it shows that we're not together as a country.

That's according to several United States senators who met with Rosenstein Thursday afternoon in a secure room in the Capitol basement. One of the attendees, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Rosenstein as anxious and nervous and said he drank multiple glasses of water "and spilled one".

Senators said that Rosenstein steered clear of specifics while making clear that Mueller has wide latitude to pursue the investigation wherever it leads, including potentially criminal charges.

Graham, who leads the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, said this could mean Comey might not testify publicly before his committee as they had hoped. The official said there was widespread agreement among staff that the appointment of Mueller provides Trump and his aides with the opportunity to "commit ourselves to doubling down on the agenda".

"He will need an outside team for this", a Republican close to the White House said. It cited two people briefed on the call.

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