Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Russian Federation probe 'greatest witch hunt' in U.S. history

Russian Federation probe 'greatest witch hunt' in U.S. history

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed the special counsel, was due to brief USA senators later on Thursday about Comey's removal. President Trump again denounced the investigation as a "witch hunt" on Thursday, a day after Mr. Mueller was tapped to head the investigation.

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.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Trump had called the naming of Mr. Mueller as special prosecutor to head the investigation into his campaign's Russian Federation links a "witch-hunt".

Mueller was appointed under another statute that had been used only once before to investigate allegations of government wrongdoing in the deadly raid of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller has been given sweeping power to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, including potential links between Moscow and Trump campaign associates.

"If one thing is clear from the meeting it is that Mr. Mueller has broad and wide ranging authority to follow the facts wherever they go, and that gives me some confidence and should give American people some confidence".

A date has not been set for the public hearing.

Rosenstein's admission came during a closed-door briefing for all 100 senators where he addressed the latest questions arising from a stream of controversy surrounding Comey's dismissal and the investigation into Russian interference into last year's election.

Mueller was appointed Wednesday by Rosenstein, who had faced criticism as the author of a memo that preceded Comey's firing.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media", he said. "This president has no one to blame but himself for the mess that he's in", Durbin said.

Mr Comey was abruptly fired last week, in a move that shocked Washington.

Longtime Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen and White House Counsel Don McGahn attended the meeting, according to the report.

"Zero", he said during the joint news conference at the White House. Every day is something new.

He offered new justifications for his decision Thursday, even while referring to the Rosenstein memo as "a very, very strong recommendation".

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

And he repeated his surprise that his decision to fire Comey was met with such an uproar. He called the suggestion he had done anything potentially worthy of criminal charges "totally ridiculous". It immediately escalated the legal stakes - and the potential political damage - for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a "hoax".

Lashing out after a high-powered special counsel was appointed to investigate events around the 2016 election, Trump denied he ever plotted with the Kremlin to win the White House.

There was confusion during the day surrounding Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who has emerged as a central figure because of his own ties to Russian Federation, which led to his dismissal early on in the Trump administration. "I'm fine with anything anybody wants to do, but we have to get back to running this country". Then it took more than a month for the panel to announce its first public hearing after Conaway took over the investigation: an open hearing with former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan on May 23 to discuss matters "related to Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign".

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