Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Sen. Graham: Russia Probe Now 'Criminal' After Mueller Tabbed

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the full Senate he knew that former director James Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for President Trump firing the Federal Bureau of Investigation director. "He learned of the president's decision to fire him and then he wrote his memo with his rationale", Durbin said.

One thing that he did make clear: Disputing earlier reports that the Comey firing came after he'd asked Rosenstein for more money for the Russian Federation investigation. "When I chose to just do it, I said to myself - I said, you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story", Trump told NBC's Lester Holt.

If true, the revelations would add growing momentum to scrutiny about Trump's firing of Comey. Mr Trump wrote, misspelling the word counsel as he referred to former president Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt", Trump responded during his first press conference since Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the probe.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump called Comey weeks after he took office on January 20 and asked him when federal authorities were going to say Trump was not under investigation.

'This is about what I believe.

According to a bombshell New York Times report published Friday, Trump allegedly said in the meeting that firing James Comey relieved "great pressure" on him.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defends Comey memo
On October 28, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing he would revisit the investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the probe.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC told reporters that it appears the FBI investigation is turning into a criminal investigation rather than a counterintelligence probe.

Hours earlier, on Twitter, Trump more colorfully called Rosenstein's appointment of Mueller as special counsel "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

The Justice Department recently appointed a special prosecutor to head the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Congressional committees in the House and the Senate are also conducting investigations.

"There was no facts laid out as to why you would change that, but appointing a special counsel has created a dynamic for Congress that's going to have to be very leery of crossing into Mr. Mueller's lane".

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Mark Warner, insisted that shouldn't keep Comey from testifying before Congress about his firing, as many lawmakers have demanded. The FBI director didn't feel comfortable attending, and tried to "blend in with the curtains in the back of the room", Wittes wrote. Comey, he said, was "a showboat" and a "grandstander". "So one of the big losers in this decision is the public", Graham said.

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