Russia Probe is Greatest Witch Hunt of a Politician in US History

19 May, 2017, 17:36 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Senator Ron Wyden speaks with Reuters during an interview in Washington

It is also noteworthy in light of recent events surrounding the firing of FBI director James Comey that the special counsel in the course of his probe can also investigate federal crimes such as "obstruction of justice" and "intimidation of witnesses".

Lawmakers were still picking through the fallout of Wednesday's stunning announcement by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that he appointed Mueller to direct the special investigation into ties between Trump aides and Russian Federation.

Given the politically explosive context, Mueller's appointment was widely welcomed across the political spectrum.

The decision to move to an independent probe came a week after Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, sparking a political firestorm as the agency was in the midst of an investigation into the Russian Federation matter.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!"

Trump claimed that the report on Comey's memo was not true. He also told network anchors at the White House on Thursday that appointing a special counsel "hurts the country".

Russian Federation has denied US intelligence agencies' conclusion that it interfered in the election campaign to try to tilt the vote in Trump's favour.

Mr Mueller will take over the FBI investigation.

Trump has consistently rejected any suggestion of collusion between his camp and Moscow as "fake news" and complained in a speech Wednesday that he had been treated "more unfairly" than any United States leader in history during his fledgling presidency.

Once again, Trump's tweets on Thursday saw him stake out a radical departure from the official White House line on an important issue, a habit that has repeatedly undermined his press operation in recent days, and made it even more hard for his administration to move on from a string of self-imposed crises.

Trump's complaints that he was being subjected to an unprecedented "witch hunt" ignored history, given that President Bill Clinton was investigated by an independent counsel, Ken Starr, in a probe that resulted in Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives.

The White House initially said last week that Trump was prompted to fire Comey after reading the Rosenstein letter.

Mueller was nominated as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Republican President George W. Bush in 2001 and served under Bush, as well as under his Democratic successor Barack Obama, until 2013.

In the job, Mueller will have all the same powers as a USA attorney, though he will still ultimately report to Rosenstein.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Judiciary Committee Democrat, said there was "no better person who could be asked to perform this function". That appointment was made by Comey, then the deputy attorney general. Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr indicated at one point that Flynn was resisting the committee's document subpoenas, but later clarified that he hadn't actually heard from Flynn's lawyer to that effect and he would welcome "their willingness to cooperate".

"He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to writing his memo", Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill told reporters after the briefing.

Trump is leaving Friday for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, and aides had hoped the disarray at home would have been calmed if not resolved, allowing the White House to refocus and move ahead. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was seen as the front-runner.

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