The Mechanics Of The Trump-Russia Special Counsel

Pauline Gross
May 19, 2017

"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" One difference, however: Special counsels get to choose whether they inform the Justice Department what they're up to.

The Senate intelligence committee also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to turn over any notes Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia's efforts to influence the election.

Mueller's broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russian Federation probe, but also "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the panel's chairman, said Flynn's lawyer told him that the retired army general, whom President Donald Trump fired in February, would not honor the committee's subpoena to produce documents related to the Russian Federation investigation.

The event that was certain to capture most attention Thursday was set to take place in the afternoon, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who named Mueller, will brief all 100 members of the Senate on the inquiry. Democratic senators had been prepared to press Rosenstein Thursday to take the step of appointing a special prosecutor, but were left praising him instead before his closed-door briefing began. "Sessions wanted a memo on Comey's sins, and Rosenstein felt he had to oblige his boss... as long as he didn't have to expressly say something he didn't believe", Columbus wrote, adding that Rosenstein never recommended that Comey be fired.

But Republican politicians have grown increasingly anxious since Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

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Donald Trump and General Michael Flynn on the campaign trail.

First reactions from Congress were mainly positive. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the appointment was consistent with his goal of ensuring that "thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead". That's according to the panel's chairman, Republican Sen.

And not a moment too soon, Democrats said.

Flynn, who served as a key adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign and transition and ended up in a top White House post, albeit briefly, has become a key figure in the probe into Russia's role in the election and whether it colluded with Trump's campaign. Flynn, through his lawyer, had earlier asked for immunity from "unfair prosecution" in exchange for agreeing to cooperate with the committee. "The real risk here is interference by the White House or by [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions' appointees, not some issue involving WilmerHale". But if he stays quiet and the White House entrusts a core group to be responsible for cooperation with the special counsel, then Republicans may have a fighting chance of getting on with legislating and advancing a conservative agenda.

Officials also said Trump is generally fed up with his communications team and its response to his administration's recent scandals. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Rosenstein would be questioned about a letter he wrote accusing Comey of missteps as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, including his handling of an election-year probe into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.The White House initially said that letter prompted Trump to fire Comey, but Trump later said he had already made a decision to dismiss him and was thinking of "this Russia thing."The Russia matter has consumed Washington and overshadowed Republican legislative priorities including a planned healthcare overhaul and sweeping tax cuts".

Other reports by GizPress

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