Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

'Zero' Russia collusion; 'whole thing has been a witch hunt'


Justice Department announcement of a special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election for president, including questions about ties between Russia and President Trump and Trump associates, speaks to the strength of checks and balances within the federal government. Even as he erupted anew, fellow Republicans expressed hopes the move would restore some calm to a capital plunged into chaos. With such authority, Mr. Mueller could explore such related issues as the circumstances behind the firing of James Comey as FBI director, conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, including any perceived efforts on President Trump's part to influence the direction of any FBI investigation, and the unmasking and leaking of classified information pertaining to former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.

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

He said it "shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not unified country" and is "a very, very negative thing".

Mr Trump clearly knew what he wanted to say as he took a few questions at a news briefing with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Responding to US President Donald Trump's claim that he is a victim of the "witch hunt", Florida Senator Macro Rubio said that the former is entitled to his opinion, but the United States is a "nation of laws". "I'm fine with anything anybody wants to do, but we have to get back to running this country". "But we have to go back to running this country really, really well".

"There is a certain amount of ramp-up time needed just to get your people into place", said Robert Ray, who, as independent counsel, investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater investment scandal. However, he complained in an early morning tweet on Thursday that he was being unfairly singled out for special counsel scrutiny.

On Wednesday, Trump had said no politician in history "has been treated worse or more unfairly" than himself.

Robert Mueller has been appointed as the special prosecutor to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

"No. No. Next question", Trump told a news conference in the White House, when asked if he "in any way, shape or form" ever urged Comey to end the probe.

Mr. Mueller will have free reign to call for a grand jury, issue subpoenas and decide whether to press criminal charges.

His appointment raises the stakes dramatically on the long-simmering allegations that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 election and had connections with members of the Trump campaign. This Wall Street Journal editorial contends that Rosenstein did no favor to anyone other than the Democrats and their allies. "I have made no such determination", Rosenstein said. "I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead".

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", he suggested.

On a day of fast-moving developments, the House intelligence committee announced that it, too, had asked for documents, in this case from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Thursday. As a new special counsel, he will have the same powers as any U.S. Attorney, and will report to Mr. Rosenstein, so at least in theory he will not be unsupervised.

Mr Rosenstein did not reveal any more significant details about the Comey firing, his decision to appoint a special counsel or the ongoing Russian Federation investigation during the unusual 90-minute closed briefing with most of the 100 senators, according to interviews with several senators afterward.

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