Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Special prosecutor abruptly named to probe Trump-Russia ties

Melinda Barton | 19 May, 2017, 06:54

Jennifer Palmieri, who worked in the Clinton administration and later on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, offered a dire warning for Trump aides on what could come in a White House facing the pressures of an investigation.

Addressing the US Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, he claimed: "No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly".

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump denounced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign's ties with Russia Thursday, repeatedly calling it an unprecedented "witch hunt" that "hurts our country terribly".

Mr Mueller, a former federal prosecutor who took up his FBI days before 9/11, is highly valued by Republicans and Democrats and was asked to extend his term by Barack Obama.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah - who earlier today invited ousted FBI Director James Comey to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on issues related to the "FBI's independence" - lauded Mueller's "impeccable credentials" and said he "should be widely accepted".

"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity", he said in a tersely-worded statement.

Trump says In a written statement that he looks forward to "this matter concluding quickly". If he decides that something outside the scope of the letter appointing him needs investigating, he would have to ask for permission to expand his probe.

Mueller's appointment has come as Trump fends off reports he shared U.S. secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office, and had asked Comey to drop his investigation into former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rosenstein was briefing the Senate about his decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the independent Trump-Russia probe.

The firm represents Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have taken on White House jobs.

Trump told them the appointment would allow them to refer questions to Mueller, giving them space to focus on policies such as tax reform.

His appointment, by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was a striking shift for the Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly insistent calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor.

Beyond allegedly asking Comey to quit his investigation into Flynn - who has been a central focus of the FBI's investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia - Trump said in an interview with NBC last week that he considered the "Russia thing with Trump and Russia' when he made a decision to fire Comey".

Trump has tried to make it very clear that he is not being investigated.

Rosenstein met with all US senators in one of the most protected rooms on Capitol Hill, "the SCIF", or a sensitive compartmented information facility.

Trump heard about Mueller's appointment from his White House lawyer Don McGahn about 25 minutes before it was made public, the senior White House official said.

Rosenstein was originally invited by the two Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democrat Chuck Schumer of NY, to explain Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. "This investigation will be broader than the special counsel's charge, and it is important that we continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead". Now Rosenstein has used that platform and authority to recommend a special counsel.

There were no immediate reactions from the White House, Flynn, or Russian Federation to the Reuters report.

The committee is one of several on Capitol Hill investigating possible collusion between Russian Federation and President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said he is supportive of investigations in Congress but expressed concern about the "proliferation" of hearings.