Trump denies asking Comey to shelf Flynn probe

"It was a counterintelligence investigation before now, it seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation", Graham said. "The Justice Department is required to appoint an independent Special Prosecutor because it has proven itself to be really, sadly a political arm of the White House". He then tweeted that "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

President Trump took to Twitter to slam the Justice Department's decision to appoint Mueller as special counsel to investigate Trump campaign ties with Russian Federation.

Mr Robert Mueller, a highly respected former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief, was appointed by Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday - reportedly with only a half-hour's notice given to the White House.

Instead of being a popular decision, the firing was met by a tsunami of criticism by Democrats because as FBI director, Comey oversaw the investigation of Russian meddling in the US election and potential ties to Trump's campaign.

"One of the big losers in this decision is the public", Graham said as he explained that Mueller might try to prevent Comey from testifying before Congress.

"It was a counter-intelligence investigation before now". However, US media reported that a top Republican on that panel said it had been advised that Mr Flynn would not honour a subpoena to appear before the committee for questioning.

It later emerged that Comey had made notes of his meetings with Trump, who reportedly asked him to quash an investigation into Flynn's contacts with foreign governments.

Because it was a closed briefing, it's unclear exactly how Rosenstein described how he knew Trump would fire Comey.

Senators: Deputy AG knew of Comey firing before writing memo
Rosenstein fielded questions in the closed session for more than an hour, but many senators left the briefing unsatisfied. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly that Sen Thom Tillis of North Carolina did not attend.

The McCaskill-Durbin claims are significant because White House communications officials had originally said Trump fired Comey on the basis of Rosenstein's memo.

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".

"You've got a special counsel who has prosecutorial powers now, and I think we in Congress have to be very careful not to interfere", Graham said.

Trump sent shockwaves across Washington last week by unceremoniously sacking his FBI director - a virtually unprecedented move that came as James Comey was heading an investigation into Team Trump's links to Russian Federation. Daria called the special counsel "second best" compared to the Office of Independent Counsel, but that "ceased to exist in 1999".

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will be at front of a special council tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But Mr Trump, after issuing a measured statement when the news first broke Wednesday evening, posted angry tweets on Thursday morning. "Should be widely accepted". And certainly in the short term, the investigation is going to continue to be an impediment to Trump's agenda.

"At some point, we get to a place where we've got to move on and start focusing on the things that the American people care about, and I don't think this is it", she said. Trump fired Comey the next day.

On Capitol Hill, Comey was clearly the man in demand, with three committees working to seat him at their witness tables soon, two in the Senate and one in the House. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repeated those concerns after meeting with Rosenstein.

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