Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly told senators that he knew President Trump was going to fire FBI Director James Comey before writing a memo outlining Comey's alleged failings. Several congressional Republicans said Wednesday that if Trump did suggest that Comey "let this go" regarding Flynn's Russian contacts, it was probably just a joke, light banter.
"He did acknowledge that he learned that Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo", McCaskill said.
Rosenstein, who was confirmed as deputy attorney general less than a month ago, wrote the memo that the Trump White House initially cited as the rationale for Comey's firing.
Trump referred to Comey's testimony at a recent Capitol Hill hearing, after which the Justice Department ended up having to amend part of his testimony regarding last year's probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices.
"Again according to Vice, President Trump addressed White House reporters today about Mueller's appointment: "[It] hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed up, not unified country". "Mueller can request additional resources, make his own calls about where to point the investigation, and in general can operate in some sense more autonomously than an ordinary United States attorney because of the designation 'special counsel.'" Mueller's next step will be to create a budget for the investigation's resources together to be approved by Rosenstein in 60 days.
After Rosenstein's announcement, Donald Trump responded: "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".
"I think the biggest legal change is that Mr. Mueller is going to proceed with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation", Graham added.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the groundbreaking announcement about the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director's appointment on Wednesday, May 17. Flynn, Trump's fired national security adviser, is a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation.
Since then, the President had said nearly nothing in public about his legislative agenda, focused instead on firing the FBI Director, and dealing with a growing investigation into the Russian Federation matter.
"After my 10th day on my new job in Washington, D.C., a friend sent me a text message that said, 'You need to get out of there!'" Rosenstein said. Mark Warner (D-VA).
But the president later told NBC News came to the decision to oust Comey after thinking about how "this Russian Federation thing.is a made up story". "I hope Former FBI Director Robert Mueller can be looked at as unbiased and his finding respected by all involved". He is required to tell Congress when the probe concludes, but publicly revealing anything beyond that is up to Rosenstein's discretion. "If I were the president I would focus on defending the nation". By Thursday morning, his response was a little less so. Lawmakers of both parties have praised Muller's integrity and the decision to make him special counsel. "Not completely, but pretty much", Graham said.
For instance, McCaskill said that Senate and House investigators may not be able to offer immunity to some witnesses because it may interfere with Mueller's probe.
"That was a consistent statement of his throughout", Murphy said.
The White House has disputed Comey's account of his February conversation with Trump concerning Flynn but has not offered specifics.
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