Special Counsel Confronts Task Of Overseeing FBI's Russia Investigation

20 May, 2017, 10:08 | Author: Leticia Walters

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rosenstein was briefing the Senate about his decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the independent Trump-Russia probe.

Trump later said in an interview with NBC News last week that he had made a decision to fire Comey "regardless of the recommendation" from the Justice Department.

Asked point-blank if he'd done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no - and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: "I think it's totally ridiculous".

Rosenstein's memo was written after a May 8 meeting between Trump and Rosenstein at the White House.

"In each instance I think [Rosenstein] made it clear to us, he felt this had the danger of going too far and getting into information that Bob Mueller might need", Durbin said on MSNBC.

But he disputed early White House claims that a memo Rosenstein had written that was critical of Comey had been the genesis of Trump's decision to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation head. He says he should have resigned sooner for the good of the agency, however, he doesn't doubt Comey's thoroughness as an investigator.

One new development from Friday's briefing: Rosenstein said news reports that Comey asked for and was denied more resources for the bureau's Russian Federation probe were not true.

Staffers described President Donald Trump as "measured" when he found out former FBI Director Robert Muelller had been appointed as a special counsel to look into possible Trump campaign ties with Russian Federation.

By Wednesday evening, a Republican source said that the move effectively shut down Congress' intense digging into Comey and his conversations with Trump.

On Thursday, after a briefing with Rosenstein on Capitol Hill, Sen.

Durbin of IL and Christopher S. Murphy of CT, all Democrats, told reporters immediately after the briefing that Mr. Rosenstein had said Mr. Trump's decision was made before reviewing a memo that was prepared by the Justice Department. The appointment was like a sucker punch for President Donald Trump as he had no idea about it. Hours after the appointment, he tweeted that it was a witch hunt. "When I made that decision I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such bad thing about Director Comey". Cleaver said Rosenstein told House members " this is not a partisan investigation, this is about Russian Federation involvement in our democracy". "As the special counsel does his work, the Congress must establish an independent commission to conduct thorough and public hearings to ensure all of the facts are brought to light".

The Times cited notes from a May 10 Oval Office meeting, the day after Trump fired Comey.

The remarks echo sentiments conveyed by Trump in a pair of tweets Thursday morning.

His appointment, by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was a striking shift for the Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly insistent calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor.

But Trump himself has already said that he was going to fire Comey regardless of any recommendation by the Justice Department.

Comey will certainly be asked about encounters that precipitated his firing, including a January dinner in which, Comey has told associates, Trump asked for his loyalty. Rosenstein said he consulted his staff as well as Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and none of them recalled such a request.

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