Trump lashes out: abused by 'greatest witch hunt'

Despite Mr Trump's declarations that there was no conspiracy, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the Russian Federation investigation now appears to be considered criminal.

Trump's complaints that he was being subjected to an unprecedented "witch hunt" ignored history, given that President Bill Clinton was investigated by an independent counsel, Ken Starr, in a probe that resulted in Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives. Democratic senators were prepared to press Rosenstein in the closed-door session to appoint a special prosecutor and his decision instantly defused their complaints, leading to praise instead.

Graham said the decision to appoint a special prosecutor is good news for the next FBI director, because "now that you have a special counsel, the new FBI director doesn't have to worry about riding herd over an investigation of the man who appointed him".

They've requested Comey hand over the memo he wrote which claims President Trump asked him to back off the investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Graham said congressional committees and subcommittees will now find it hard to subpoena the records of somebody like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn or to call former FBI Director James Comey to testify: "If I were Mr. Mueller, I would jealously guard the witness pool", Graham said.

"From what we've heard about this case", Zeidenberg said. Flynn, through his lawyer, had earlier asked for immunity from "unfair prosecution" in exchange for agreeing to co-operate with the committee.

Trump fired Flynn on February 14 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations a year ago with Russia's ambassador.

The broad federal probe under Mueller, a lawman who engenders deep bipartisan respect, was just getting underway.

The announcement was made by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

A key issue Mueller may have to tackle is whether Trump has committed obstruction of justice, an offense that could be used in any effort in the Republican-led Congress to impeach him and remove him from office. "I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead".

Trump's defiant comments stood in contrast to his measured statement on Wednesday night after former FBI chief Robert Mueller was named as special counsel, in which he said "a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity". "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly".

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!" he added later, without providing examples. He gave no examples.

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

The selection of Mueller, a taciturn former federal prosecutor who led the FBI through the September 11 attacks, received bipartisan embrace. He was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

"He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo", McCaskill said.

Mueller is the rare figure in Washington who is seen as being largely above partisan politics.

"If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is Isis's ultimate trophy", Trump said, "the pope can have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened".

-On his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey: "I actually thought when I made that decision - and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein".

Trump is leaving Friday for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, and aides had hoped the disarray at home would have been calmed if not resolved, allowing the White House to refocus and move ahead.

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