Trump decries Russia probe as 'greatest witch hunt' in US history

Cameron Gross
May 19, 2017

Trump issued a statement that didn't directly challenge the legitimacy of Robert Mueller, the former FBI director appointed to conduct the investigation. Trump wrote, misspelling the word counsel as he referred to former President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Justice Department on May 17, 2017, appointed Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin echoed McCaskill, saying Rosenstein told lawmakers that he knew of Trump's intent the day before he wrote a document that the White House initially said was the main reason Comey was dismissed. Rosenstein said the Mueller appointment was "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome". But he told reporters Thursday in Cyprus that he doesn't understand what the "secret" was, since the US introduced a ban on laptops on airlines from some Middle Eastern countries two months ago.

Fellow Republican Peter King of NY was more leery: "I'm anxious with all special counsels because there's no control over them and they can abuse their power".

The motivation and timing of Rosenstein's three-page memo has been scrutinized because the White House offered inconsistent explanations for it. Trump later said he had already made a decision to dismiss him and was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing".

"In my capacity as acting attorney general, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter".

US House Speaker Paul Ryan said the appointment was consistent with his goal of ensuring that "thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead".

Democrats - and many Republicans - had been eager to hear from Comey after reports emerged this week that Trump may have urged the then-FBI director to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

US, EU officials discuss ban on in-flight laptops
The International Air Transport Association said the ban would cost $1.1 billion in lost productivity and added travel time . At present they are not affected, because only Middle Eastern and North African airlines fly the specified routes.

But Rosenstein's decision prompted further outrage from Trump.

The tweets also raise questions about whether Trump, with his more defiant tone on the special counsel, will actually cooperate with the probe.

"I would be very discouraged if somehow this new special prosecutor would preclude Jim Comey from testifying in public before our committee", he said.

Burr, who heads the Senate investigation into the Russian activity and possible connections to associates of President Donald Trump, says his committee will "continue to proceed forward" and the panel's job hasn't changed.

In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton was engulfed by an independent counsel investigation that started as a probe into failed land deals but ultimately exposed his affair with a White House intern.

The appointment gives Mueller, who led the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the September 11 terrorist attacks and served under presidential administrations of both parties, sweeping powers to investigate whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Kremlin to influence the outcome in his behalf, as well as the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered during the probe.

As he said, taking a shot at the media who is assuredly against him as a group, you have to fight and never give up.

Other reports by BadHub

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