Trump decries Russian Federation probe as greatest witch hunt in United States history

President Donald Trump said he did not ask FBI Director James Comey to end his investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump also said he was close to selecting a new Federal Bureau of Investigation director to replace Comey, and that former senator and one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman was among the top candidates.

"The takeaway I have is that everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation", Graham told reporters after the briefing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Justice Department on May 17, 2017, appointed Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Much has changed since then.

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said an independent commission to investigate the Russian Federation matter was still needed to guard against White House interference.

Yes, the special counsel still ultimately answers to Rosenstein, who in turn answers to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the president. The White House is disputing a report that President Donald Trump asked C. Trump aides initially pointed to a memo written by Rosenstein that had been critical of a number of Comey actions prior to Trump coming into office. "My total priority - believe me - is the United States", he added. "There is nothing in that oath about my reputation".

"The takeaway I had", said Sen.

Yet there's no question that Comey's firing at least temporarily hobbled Rosenstein's public standing.

"They certainly chose somebody who has both the adequate background and credibility and bipartisan support to be able to effectively conduct the investigation", Murray said.

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The South Carolina Senator made those comments after the Deputy Attorney General briefed the entire U.S. Senate. "You've got the talking heads pontificating about someone I know well, when they don't know him at all and they don't have all the facts". As that example illustrates, however, firing Mueller nearly surely would escalate Trump's political problems, not solve them. "That's hard to watch".

Trump also asked why no special counsel was appointed for what he called "all of the illegal acts" of Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Obama administration.

Comey's dismissal and Trump's remarks appear to have helped sway Rosenstein's mind as he contemplated appointing a special counsel. Lindsey Graham, said he was convinced that Mueller's appointment would hinder Congress' probing.

The selection of Mueller, a taciturn former federal prosecutor who led the FBI through the September 11 attacks, received bipartisan embrace.

The appointment seemed meant to quell mounting questions about the Justice Department's ability to independently oversee the investigation.

Unlike his unusually candid predecessor Comey, Mueller is a notoriously tight-lipped investigator.

That conflicts with White House press secretary Sean Spicer's explanation in the immediate aftermath of Comey's firing that it "was all" Rosenstein's idea. It's up to Rosenstein to decide whether to make details public.

"You're pretty well knocked out of the game", he said about the ongoing high-profile congressional probes, "and that's probably the way it should be".

Known as a hard-charging, details-oriented prosecutor, Mueller has an independent streak that put him at odds with the George W. Bush administration when he was FBI director, and a determination that helped prevent the bureau's dismantling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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