Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

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President Donald Trump lashed out Thursday at the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations his campaign collaborated with Russian Federation as Congress confronted an apparent setback in its own probes: A lawyer for Michael Flynn said the fired national security adviser would not provide documents for an intelligence panel's inquiry.

It's safe to say the pressure is on them as Americans watch their responses to the announcement of a special counsel for the Justice Department's investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation and the fallout surrounding the firing of Comey. Comey declined to do so. That's the same deputy attorney general Trump's White House initially hung its rationale for firing Comey on.

Donald Trump has responded with a direct - if brief - "No".

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal also told reporters that Mueller was conducting a criminal investigation, including into whether there was any obstruction of justice on behalf of Trump's campaign team.

But the day after the story broke, under headlines that said "Trump reveals secret intelligence to Russians", the president decided that he had better come clean on this one, admitting that the story was in fact true.

The Russia scandal enveloping the White House poses an existential threat to the White House and more broadly to the GOP.

In a statement, the White House said "the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation involving General Flynn".

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Law enforcement sources told the Press Association Richard Rojas said he had been hearing voices at the time of the incident. In previous arrests, he told authorities he believed he was being harassed and followed, one of the police officials said.

"Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey, in any way shape or form, to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?"

But once again Trump went into deep denial that he had ever said any such thing to Comey.

"It shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump told the group.

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.

The president repeated his denial of involvement with Russia during Thursday's press conference, saying, "There's been no collusion between certainly myself - and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself - and the Russians". "I hope you can let this go", referring to the inquiry into Flynn's actions. "And I think it's a very, very negative thing".

The FBI's reputation, he said, had been damaged during the presidential campaign, given "what happened with respect to the Clinton campaign". The Mueller appointment will, at least temporarily, relieve some of the pressure on congressional Republicans who've publicly complained that the constant drama and serial controversies at the White House were hindering their ability to work on their policy agenda. And if they want to get re-elected, they've got to worry about delivering for their constituents.

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