Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Special prosecutor abruptly named to probe Trump-Russia ties


Donald Trump has termed the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the Special Counsel to probe Russia's role into last year's US Presidential election a political witchhunt. "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!" he added later, without providing examples.

Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans widely praised Mueller's appointment.

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said a lawyer for Flynn, a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigations, had told the intelligence committee that Flynn would not comply with the panel's subpoena for personal documents related to the committee's own probe.

"A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity", he declared. Since Sessions has recused himself from the Trump Russia investigation, Rosenstein - who signed the letter appointing Mueller as "acting attorney general" - is the only person with the authority to curtail Mueller's work.

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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.

It comes after Trump complained to graduates at the US Coast Guard Academy that "no politician in history. has been treated worse or more unfairly" than him. Given his background having served under Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, Mueller is probably the one individual who could generate the kind of bipartisan trust in Washington that this process demands.

His reaction differed from Wednesday when he was quoted in a White House statement as saying: "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly".

As special counsel, Mueller will have the freedom and independence to conduct a thorough and complete investigation without the fanfare of partisan politics that has enveloped Washington since January.

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Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland's lone congressional Republican, referred in his statement to the memo Rosenstein penned that criticized former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

That memo, which criticized Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, was later used by Trump as grounds to fire Comey. Despite the appointment, at least three congressional committees are continuing their investigations, leading to some turf warfare and sniping as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee both sought to lay claim to testimony from Comey, while the House Oversight Committee also hoped to hear from the former director.

Rosenstein said the appointment was "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome". "I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead". He offered to furnish a "record" of the Trump-diplomats meeting in the Oval Office if the White House desired it. Though his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner apparently pressed Trump to fight back, the president was "uncharacteristically noncombative" by the end of the discussion, the Times reported.

Trump emphatically said "no" when asked during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in the White House's East Room. But Trump, after issuing a measured statement when the news first broke Wednesday evening, allowed his resentment to burst forth Thursday in angry morning tweets.

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