Trump tweets again, in defense of his tweeting

"Witch Hunt", the President tweeted.

That tweet from this morning seemed to be a swipe at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who chose former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the Special Counsel probe of Russian election interference. The Post has also reported that Mueller is investigating the business dealings of Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Trump didn't immediately elaborate on the tweet, but it appears he is referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose memo on fired FBI Director James Comey last month was initially used as justification for the termination.

The expansion of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would represent the clearest legal threat to date for Trump, who has long maintained that he is not personally under investigation - and who reportedly pressured former FBI Director James Comey to say so publicly.

President Trump dismissed a potential obstruction of justice investigation into his conduct, calling allegations of collusion between him, his campaign or people associated with him and Russian Federation a "phony story".

If Rosenstein recuses himself from oversight of the special counsel investigation, that role would fall to the Justice Department's No. 3 official, newly confirmed Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Trump did not directly address the allegations he obstructed justice - a potentially impeachable offense - neither did he deny he has entered the miniscule ranks of sitting presidents who have become the subject of a criminal investigation. When Comey was deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, he appointed a close friend and former colleague, Patrick Fitzgerald, as special counsel to investigate who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer. He said he didn't know if Trump obstructed justice, but said it was for Mueller to decide. He has already been subpoenaed by the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee.

The move was confirmed by a transition official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss post-election decisions.

Trump, in a series of morning tweets, reverted back to the tone that won him the White House, slamming the investigation a day after he called for unity in the wake of a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice that injured several people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Trump's tweets came after the top lawyer for his transition team warned the organization's officials to preserve all records and other materials related to the Russian Federation probe. The investigations, however, have cast a shadow over his five-month presidency.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the U.S. election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year", he said.

Comey also testified he had told Trump he was not under investigation.

"I think he's weighing that option", he said of Trump.

The administration initially gave differing reasons for his dismissal, including that he had lost the confidence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Comey said he declined to tell agents working on the case about his conversation with Trump to shield them.

Trump's tweet Friday reflected the first official confirmation that he is being investigated by the special counsel for the reasons he fired Comey last month.

The new allegations against Trump center on his own admission that he fired Comey because of the Russian Federation investigation, and suggestions he asked several top intelligence officials for their help altering the inquiry's direction.

A spokesman for Trump's personal attorney had strong words in response to the news.

The New York Times corroborated the report, citing a person briefed on the investigation.

  • Zachary Reyes