Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Robert Mueller's Appointment As Special Prosecutor, Reportedly A Witch Hunt

Calls for a special investigation had mounted after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week.

Mr Trump on Thursday also denied ever asking Mr Comey to shut down the FBI's investigation into his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.

When White House counsel Don McGahn told President Trump that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had just appointed Mueller as special prosecutor for the Russian probe, the president handled the news well than anyone expected.

They included media reports that Trump discussed sensitive intelligence on the Islamic State militant group with Russia's foreign minister.

"Let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of it and I fully support the decision that President Trump made to ask for General Flynn's resignation", Pence said, adding he's "disappointed".

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Asked if he thought he had done anything to warrant criminal charges or impeachment as some on the left have demanded, the Republican president replied: "I think it's totally ridiculous".

The last 48 hours, however, have highlighted Pence's political problem: He is serving under a deeply unpredictable president who he will likely be latched to - in the public's mind - no matter what happens over these next four or eight years.

"And he said that ever since, the president had been trying to be chummy in a fashion that Comey felt was created to absorb him into Trump's world - to make him part of the team".

"The idea for Republicans was that Pence is over there, Pence can be our liaison, Pence can help advance the agenda - a lot of chips were piled up on Pence as being the guarantor of the agenda and the guarantor of stability", said David Axelrod, who was a top adviser to former President Barack Obama.

Not long after that, with Pence in the front row at an East Room news conference, Trump declared that the inquiry was "a witch hunt" and that there was "no collusion" between him and Russian Federation - though he quickly added, "I can always speak for myself". Trump has long bristled at the notion that Russian Federation played any role in his November election victory over Clinton.

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Mueller's appointment was welcomed by politicians from both sides.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", he said. (He is vice president, after all.) But Trump is a double-edged sword and Pence has been feeling the sharp end of it since Monday.

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.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Comey wrote a memo following a dinner meeting with Trump. Comey, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, was wearing a dark blue suit and stood near the similarly colored curtains in the back of the room, hoping that Trump would not spot him.

A key issue Mueller may have to tackle is whether Trump has committed obstruction of justice, an offence that could be used in any effort in the Republican-led Congress to impeach him and remove him from office.

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