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Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein testifies in budget hearings

19 June, 2017, 13:32 | Author: Mae Harvey

2 official at the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday told Congress the special counsel investigating Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is going to have "the full degree of independence" he needs.

Democratic senators repeatedly criticized Sessions for dispatching Rosenstein to testify Tuesday in his place about the Justice Department's budget to an Appropriations subcommittee.

Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russian Federation during the presidential campaign, and Comey and others have testified that there is no evidence to the contrary.

"When the day comes that our country can not rely on people to deliver the truth about whatever the subject is from positions of great authority and great reputations, like Mueller, and if we just dismiss those as not being able to deliver us the truth about an issue, we've got more problems than we think we have", Womack said.

The questioning about whether the White House was seeking to oust Mueller came as top conservative boosters of Trump sought to delegitimize Mueller, a former FBI director who took the special counsel job after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

He assured lawmakers Tuesday that he would follow the regulation concerning the special counsel, which says that Mueller can only be fired for good cause. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

Speaking from the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was "frankly disturbed" by Trump's "hard right" supporters attempting to "discredit" Mueller and "sully his reputation".

Adding to the atmosphere of intrigue was a tweet Monday from Trump ally Newt Gingrich saying it's "time to rethink" Mueller as special council.

"The chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general - and in this case, the acting attorney general", he said.

With few exceptions, Trump's allies are urging him not to move to dismiss Mueller, which would be both politically and technically complicated.

And since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is acting in that capacity.

Rosenstein testified that he is the only one who has the authority to fire Mueller, who was appointed following the May 9 ousting of James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and that he had seen no good cause to do so. Sessions made that choice because of his own conversations with Russian officials during the Trump transition - a potential part of the probe.

Barry Bennett, a GOP strategist who served as an adviser to Trump's campaign, said he believed it would be too damaging for Trump to try to remove Mueller, but that he had concerns about the appearance that the probe was being politicized.

Ruddy said in an interview Monday with Judy Woodruff of PBS, "I think he's weighing that option". "I don't question his integrity at all, but he has to be careful not to create the impression of partiality".

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