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

Trump to Muir: Special counsel 'hurts our country terribly'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco isn't as enthusiastic as some about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate alleged ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Politicians from both parties sought to question him about Mr Trump's firing last week of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, which was followed by news that Mr Trump had shared secrets with the Russians and tried to stop Mr Comey from investigating former presidential adviser Michael Flynn.

"I believe it hurts our country terribly", Trump told network anchors during a luncheon Thursday afternoon at the White House.

USA president Donald Trump has denied he asked former FBI director James Comey to halt an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn, as he dismissed the appointment of a Special Counsel to oversee the investigation as a "witch-hunt".

Pressure has spiked in Congress for an independent probe into ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow, which U.S. intelligence chiefs accuse of interfering to sway the election in Trump's favour.

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion", he said.

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"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", Rosenstein said.

"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump said.

Congressional Republican leaders, under pressure to act on the growing number of controversies swirling out of the White House, applauded the Justice Department decision to conduct an independent probe with a special counsel.

"The shock to the body is that this is now a criminal investigation", Graham (R-SC) told reporters moments after he exited the Senate chamber.

"They're going to want to get tax records", Zeidenberg said. 'We're going to have a director who is going to be outstanding.

Rosenstein's announcement followed more than a week of chaos emanating from the White House, starting with Comey's firing last Tuesday and continuing through the news Monday that Trump divulged classified information to Russian officials and Tuesday's stunning report that Trump asked Comey in a private meeting to stop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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Trump has denied the conversation took place. And Graham said that could impede Congress's "ability to conduct investigations of all things Russian Federation".

Democrats have accused Trump of obstruction of justice and threatened him with removal from office over his alleged collusion with the Russians and a report this week that claimed he tried to interfere with the FBI's investigation into Flynn.

"He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to him writing his memo", McCaskill told a crush of reporters outside the closed meeting where Rosenstein briefed senators.

In December, Velázquez was the first member of Congress to call for a special counsel, a request she repeated after Flynn's resignation in February.

In a statement, Rosenstein said he had chose to hand off the high-profile inquiry to a figure outside the normal government chain of command, including the White House, "in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome".

Even Republicans who had said they were opposed to the creation of a new investigator signaled support of the move. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat and a former Nevada attorney general.

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