Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Russian Federation is now a criminal matter, senators say after 'sobering' briefing

Russian Federation is now a criminal matter, senators say after 'sobering' briefing

The former U.S. House Intelligence Committee chair and a former Arizona attorney general sit on either side of the political aisle.

Donald Trump said the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the Justice Department's probe into alleged ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign "hurts our country terribly". However, he complained in an early morning tweet on Thursday that he was being unfairly singled out for special counsel scrutiny.

Mueller's investigation is only to see if criminal wrongdoing occurred. Senators said Thursday that Rosenstein made clear in the briefing he was giving Mueller leeway to do the job. "He'll do it and he'll do it professionally".

The tweets fly in the face of the statement issued on Wednesday night which had appeared as an attempt by Trump's staff to tamp down the raging political storm over Russian Federation which has resulted in Trump's worst week in office so far. But he disputed early White House claims that a memo Rosenstein had written that was critical of Comey had been the genesis of Trump's decision to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation head.

Just over an hour after the news of Mueller's appointment emerged, President Trump predicted the new investigation would clear him and his team.

"It's important that Mr. Mueller completes his investigation thoroughly and quickly", Cotton said.

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

In a press conference at the White House on Thursday, Mr Trump said that while he respects the decision to appoint a special counsel, he added that "the entire thing has been a witch hunt".

But unlike the usual suspects on the left, I never believed there was any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

If taken at his word, McCabe's testimony is a complete refutation that there was any effort from the Trump White House or Justice Department to obstruct the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia's role and alleged coordination with the Trump team in trying to influence the presidential election.

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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".

Rosenstein may have blunted some of the criticism of his actions in the last week with his special counsel announcement Wednesday.

But Trump himself has already said that he was going to fire Comey regardless of any recommendation by the Justice Department.

Rosenstein had much to cover in the long-awaited Senate briefing, including the Comey firing, the naming of a special counsel and the Russian Federation probe itself.

Days earlier, on May 10, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters "we don't think it's necessary" to appoint a special prosecutor.

Republicans on Capitol Hill hoped the same, reasoning that the appointment of a special counsel could free them to work on a major tax overhaul and other matters without constant distractions.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress he stands by a memo he wrote that the White House has cited as a justification for the firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

One question that lingered, however, was how Mueller's appointment and the change in the nature of the probe would affect the multiple congressional investigations underway in the matter. "You can't let them get you down, you can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams".

The White House repeated its assertion that a "thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity". It didn't amount to a finding of official misconduct by Comey, Rosenstein said, or a statement of reasons justifying a for-cause dismissal.

Asked point-blank if he'd done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, he said no and then added concerning the allegations and questions that have mounted as he nears the four-month mark of his presidency: "I think it's totally ridiculous".

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