Flynn, Manafort Key Targets of FBI Investigation

Pauline Gross
May 19, 2017

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". He denied this as well.

Once again, Trump's tweets on Thursday saw him stake out a radical departure from the official White House line on an important issue, a habit that has repeatedly undermined his press operation in recent days, and made it even more hard for his administration to move on from a string of self-imposed crises.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed", Trump tweeted.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement on Wednesday that the appointment "is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome" of the probe.

"I think it's totally ridiculous, everybody thinks so", the President said about the investigation into Russian meddling, and whether it had ties to any Trump associates.

He reiterated his earlier comments that the investigation is a "witch hunt".

Trump says, "we want to bring this country of ours together".

The same pattern was in evidence when he fired FBI Director James Comey last week then used a television interview to suggest he acted out of frustration with the FBI's Russian Federation probe - even though his team spent several days saying the ousting of the bureau's director had nothing to do with that issue.

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Mueller's appointment has been welcomed by politicians from both sides.

Washington's intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip November's U.S. presidential election in favour of Trump.

He is known as someone who doesn't toe the line and instead stands for principles as he did in 2004 when he had threatened to resign if the then US President George Bush went ahead with domestic surveillance plans without approval of the US Department of Justice.

There was no word on what that record might entail, a question many were likely to raise in light of Trump's recent warning to Comey that he had "better hope" there were no tapes of a discussion they'd had. And I think this shows a very divided country.

By Wednesday evening, a Republican source said that the move effectively shut down Congress' intense digging into Comey and his conversations with Trump.

But Mr Trump, after issuing a measured statement when the news first broke on Wednesday evening, allowed his resentment to burst forth on Thursday in angry morning tweets. Burr told reporters Thursday that Flynn's lawyer informed the panel he will not abide by a subpoena for private documents. Principal Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to Rosenstein's memo as the reason for Trump's firing, saying that Comey had committed "atrocities" in overseeing the FBI's investigation into Clinton. Trump later said he had already made a decision to dismiss him and was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing".

Despite initially opposing the appointment of an independent counsel, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the development "helps assure people and the justice department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along".

As a special counsel, Mueller could be fired by Trump, much as Richard Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. On April 27, 1973, less than a year later, Gray was forced to resign after it was revealed during confirmation hearings in March 1973 that, among other transgressions such as destroying papers from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative who coordinated the Watergate break-in, Gray had been passing Federal Bureau of Investigation reports on the Watergate scandal to Nixon's White House counsel, John W. Dean III.

Other reports by GizPress

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