Trump assails 'witch hunt' after naming of special counsel

"He learned of the president's decision to fire him and then he wrote his memo with his rationale", Durbin said.

It was unclear what "illegal acts" Trump was referring to, though as a candidate he did pledge to appoint a special counsel to investigate his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's use of private email during her years as secretary of State - a threat he hasn't yet followed up on.

Mueller will fill a role independent of the normal channels of authority at the country's Department of Justice. The latest allegation cements the notion that Trump fired Comey to impede the Russian Federation investigation, rather than the original justification over his handling of Hillary Clinton's emails.

The U.S. president tweeted Thursday morning branding the probe into possibly Russian collusion with his campaign the "single greatest witch hunt" in political history.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday, that appointing a special counsel to investigate possible ties between his campaign and the Kremlin is dividing the country.

To emphasize the independence of his decision, Rosenstein did not notify White House counsel Donald McGahn of the appointment until 5:30 p.m., the same time Justice Department officials were briefing reporters and 30 minutes before the news became public.

The President is correct in his observation about the rarity of a special counsel, though his references to the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration may not bolster his case.

"Well I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt", President Trump said when asked about the investigation. Flynn was forced to resign on February 13 amid questions over his contact with the Russian ambassador and discussions of USA sanctions.

"This is a truth hunt", said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat, said the panel will continue its own investigation and "engage with Director Mueller" on any potential conflicts.

But why Rosenstein's briefing needed to happen in a room designed for classified briefings is still unclear.

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.

"We need a great director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

The President also described Comey as "very unpopular with most people", and said he was surprised that there wasn't bipartisan support for Comey's ouster. It also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to give the committee any notes Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia's efforts to influence the election.

Both allegations came from anonymous sources, and the White House was quick to denounce the leaks and deny any impropriety, insisting the president never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor did he make inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.

The problem with special counsels, as we've learned time and again, is that they are by definition all but politically unaccountable.

  • Leroy Wright