Special Counsel Confronts Task Of Overseeing FBI's Russia Investigation

Owen Stevens
May 19, 2017

Langevin said reports that President Donald Trump tried to stop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a Rhode Island native, was proof of the administration's inability to oversee a "fair and impartial investigation".

At the same time, congressional committees are continuing their own investigations, leading to some turf warfare and sniping as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee both sought to lay claim to testimony from Comey, while the House Oversight Committee also hoped to hear from the former director.

Trump cited displeasure with the FBI's Russian Federation probe as a factor in dismissing Comey.

"No. No. Next question", Trump told a news conference in the White House, when asked if he "in any way, shape or form" ever urged Comey to end the probe.

Not quite everybody. While Trump tweeted and voiced his indignation at the White House, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed an independent special counsel to lead a heightened federal Trump-Russia investigation the day before, briefed the entire Senate behind closed doors at the Capitol.

"The political reason on the Democratic side is obvious: It's to namely keep this issue going and to keep it ideally going into the 2018 elections and, even more, into the presidential elections of 2020", he said.

"I think that opportunity has been lost, maybe for the greater good, but there are a lot of people in that room who were shocked that when a special counsel has been appointed, that Congress has limitations on what we can do".

He leapt to make the point again at a joint news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, describing the development as a distraction. That's right Jihye it seemed as if Mr. Trump was confident in the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel.

He did not offer any evidence of such acts in his reference to former Democratic President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

When President Trump tweeted this morning, "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history", Senator Amy Klobuchar quickly responded tweeting, "This is a truth hunt".

Democrats rejected Trump's characterisation.

Senator Klobuchar said stakes could not be higher.

Flynn is accused of misleading Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Mr Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the presidential race.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, said Rosenstein's briefing left him with the impression that Mueller's investigation would be criminal in nature. Sen.

Trump strongly disagreed. The appointment, he said in a briefing with news anchors, "hurts our country terribly".

After Comey's firing, Rosenstein initially drew the ire of Democrats on Capitol Hill, but he seemed to have regained some good faith after his appointment of Mueller, a move Democrats had been almost unanimous in supporting.

"My takeaway is everything he said is you have to treat this as if it's a criminal investigation", Graham said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director Jim Comey before he sat down to write a memo criticizing Comey's conduct.

Trump has the option to fire the special counsel.

In another Twitter post Thursday, Trump said: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!"

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.

"The commission brings an independent body completely removed from political considerations to give the public the confidence to know that body will follow the facts wherever they may lead", Schiff said.

Other reports by VgToday

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