Trump claims 'witch hunt'; GOP puts hope in special counsel

While President Donald Trump has called the probe "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

Trump reiterated his positon at a White House news conference with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos.

"I respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt".

He later, however, struck a different tone via Twitter, asking why there was never a special counsel appointed to investigate "all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration".

Those initial revelations prompted Trump to launch a jeremiad against those leaking government information - an obsession that merged with his belief that allies of President Barack Obama were behind the news to cause him to embrace the idea that Obama had wiretapped him during the campaign.

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.

Leaks are hardly the only cause of Trump's problems - the uproar over FBI Director James Comey's dismissal wasn't the result of a leak.

The President's comment may also conflict with a sound legal strategy, given that he could eventually be called upon to testify to Mueller's probe.

The South Carolina Republican said he wasn't able to ask specifically if it was now a criminal probe "but the takeaway have is everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may a criminal investigation". The White House issued a statement explaining that his decision to dismiss Comey was based on the recommendations of the Justice Department. Lindsey Graham, said he was convinced that Mueller's appointment would hinder Congress' probing. "I hope you can let this go", Trump said, according to multiple Comey associates.

"If that's the direction [the Department of Justice] wants to go, I think he will do an excellent job", Hill said.

That doesn't answer the question about Robert Mueller, but was the response we got.

Rosenstein told the U.S. Senate on Thursday that he knew President Donald Trump meant to fire Comey before he wrote the memo.

If past is prologue, Mueller's investigation will be a huge distraction for the White House as everybody "lawyers up" and attention shifts from what remains of Trump's agenda to the latest twists and turns that can be discerned.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday he believes the Justice Department's Russian Federation probe is "now considered a criminal investigation", comments he made following the all-senators' briefing with deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Senators also asked Rosenstein about the administration's decision to fire Comey.

Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the oversight panel, said Mueller was a "great selection".

"The Intelligence Committee in the Senate has to continue its work, and it should continue full throttle ahead", Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the briefing.

Rosenstein addressed Senators at a closed-door briefing in the wake of his decision to appoint a special counsel, ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee all investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential related misconduct.

Most importantly, Mueller's appointment shows that the Department of Justice is willing to conduct an investigation independent of the White House. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made the appointment because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped aside from involvement in the case.

Because it was a closed briefing, it's unclear exactly how Rosenstein described how he knew Trump would fire Comey.

  • Leroy Wright