Special counsel pick could boost faith in Justice Dept.

What is your response to the president calling this the greatest witch hunt ever and saying that all the illegal acts by Hillary Clinton during the campaign and in the Obama administration did not warrant the same?

Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI's investigation into Russian campaign interference, which has just been taken over by a special counsel, four law enforcement officials told NBC News.

He has been tasked with carrying on the investigation that former FBI Director James Comey told Congress about before he was sacked by President Donald Trump.

In an interview last week on NBC, Trump said he had the Russian Federation investigation on his mind when he fired Comey, although he also said he did not mean to interfere with the investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March after acknowledging undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, leaving the matter in Rosenstein's hands.

The White House did not know about the Mueller hiring until an hour before it went public.

In a statement released by the White House last night, Trump said that the investigation would confirm "there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".

Zeidenberg was the assistant special counsel in the 2003 investigation into the leaking of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame, which ultimately lead to Vice President Dick Cheney's advisor Scooter Libby being convicted of obstruction of justice, among other counts. But I think if McCaskill's account is true, it at the very least further discredits the Trump administration's original claim that Trump acted on the recommendation of the Justice Department to fire Comey.

By Wednesday, leaders from the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees had sent requests to both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the White House for all records pertaining to Comey's conversations with Trump.

As special counsel, Mueller will command broad powers, including the power to subpoena documents and prosecute any crimes, independent of Congress. Calls on Capitol Hill for a special prosecutor in the investigation have percolated for months, but spiked after the firing of Comey, who was leading an FBI investigation into the matter. Mueller will have to propose a budget to the Justice Department within the next 60 days - and update it annually, for as long as the investigation runs.

"If I were Mr. Mueller I would jealously guard the witness pool", Graham said.

Mueller's investigation is only to see if criminal wrongdoing occurred. That would surely include Trump's firing last week of FBI Director James Comey. 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.

"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump said. And House and Senate investigators had invited Comey back to Congress to explain what happened - although Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz declared on Twitter that he had trouble finding Comey to invite him to testify to the oversight committee he chairs.

Capping days of political drama in Washington, Mueller's appointment came as Trump fends off a stunning series of allegations including claims he shared United States secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office.

Mueller is relatively immune from the many vagaries of President Trump.

It's a serious charge, one that could lead to impeachment, potentially.

  • Leroy Wright