Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Rosenstein Contradicts Trump On Comey Memo Timeline


The comments came during a lunch with television network anchors at the White House Thursday as he was asked about the selection of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the inquiry.

Mueller is the man Rosenstein tapped Wednesday to head the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into whether anyone on Trump's campaign colluded with Russian operatives who sought to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

"Well, I respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt", Trump said when asked about the investigation.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!" he wrote, misspelling "counsel".

A day after appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the independent probe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared behind closed doors before the full Senate. He did not inform the White House about the appointment until after it had been made.

"A criminal investigation might", said Sen.

Other presidents have faced similar investigations - at times raging behind the scenes - but none had a Twitter account that made their moments of self-pity and anger so public.

"Congress has been pretty much sidelined".

Moreover, unlike other enemies Trump has railed against - even some within his own party - Mueller will be harder to defeat in a pure political or public relations context.

During the second presidential debate on October 9, Trump said to Clinton, "I hate to say it but, if I win, I am going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation". "I'm sure they're going to get Trump's tax records. and they're going to try and find links".

Mueller's investigation is only to see if criminal wrongdoing occurred. He added that he hoped Mueller would meet with the leaders of the various committees "and make sure that we don't step on his investigation".

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"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", said Trump. Before he leaves Washington, he is scheduled to appear at a joint news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia Thursday afternoon.

Despite initially opposing appointment of an independent counsel, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development "helps assure people and the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along".

Before leading the F.B.I., Mueller served as a U.S. Attorney, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. "I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead".

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Trump campaign ties with Russia announced Thursday that Michael Flynn's attorney has informed the committee the fired Naitonal Security Adviser does not plan to honor a committee subpoena issued calling for him to turn over documents related to his contacts with Russians.

But Trump's problems do not end on the home front. Two of the countries Trump is set to visit on his first trip overseas are ones where he holds assets - Saudi Arabia and Israel. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the first to speak to reporters staked outside the briefing room.

His advice to the president: "Stay disciplined, stay focused and deliver on the world stage".

The White House pointed to Rosenstein's memo last week as justification for President Trump's abrupt decision to dismiss Comey. He also appeared bored or distracted when Erdogan spoke, coming to life when the Turkish president injected some fulsome praise for Trump and his election victory.

Presidents usually sit through "pre-trip briefings galore" before foreign visits, said Michael Allen, who was an advisor to President George W. Bush. Blunt has long said that committee was making progress in getting to the bottom of the Russian involvement in the election.

Leahy said he knew Mueller well from his Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight work on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Mueller ran the agency between 2001 and 2013.

"He is widely respected in Congress, across the political spectrum", Leahy said.

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