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Mueller Investigation Will Prolong, Not Halt, Political Controversy Over Russia

20 Mai 2017

Newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election will likely hamper Congress' ability to conduct parallel probes, according to senators and former FBI officials.

"I always believed that a counterintelligence investigation would not need a special prosecutor". He's not going to go looking for dresses and scandalous things. Trump aides said he never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor made inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.

Trump called it the single greatest political "witch-hunt in USA history".

On Thursday, the real Trump returned, whining about witch-hunts and the ways an adversarial mainstream media was supposedly dividing the country.

United States intelligence suspects that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a sweeping campaign to tilt the vote in the Republican's favour.

Later, Flynn emerged as a sharp critic of Obama's handling of national security matters, while supporting Trump's long-shot run for the presidency.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the White House with Colombian President Juan Miguel Santos, Trump reiterated the phrase he used Thursday morning on Twitter and again denied his campaign colluded in Russia's cyberattacks against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats during last year's election.

By May 10, White House officials had backed off blaming Rosenstein for the firing and the next day, Trump contradicted his own officials and told NBC News that the decision to fire Comey was his alone and that he was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing with Trump" when he made it.

According to a New York Times report that cited two people briefed on a call between Comey and Trump, Comey had explained to Trump how the White House ought to communicate with the FBI, after Trump had asked Comey when they were going to announce that he was not under investigation.

Far from relieving pressure, that firing, and a subsequent report that Trump had asked Comey to stop an investigation in disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, ratcheted up the probe.

Former FBI director James Comey.

"So far, there's been no suggestion that we can not continue to go forward", Scalise told reporters.

His reaction differed from Wednesday when he was quoted in a White House statement as saying: "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly". On Thursday, Reuters reported that Mr. Flynn and other advisers to Mr. Trump's campaign were in contact, via telephone and e-mail, at least 18 times with Russian officials and others with ties to the Kremlin in the last months of the presidential race.

One of those occurred at the White House on January 22, just two days after Mr. Trump was sworn in.

"He had to throw some brushback pitches to the administration", said Wittes.

Former Assistant FBI Director Ron Hosko, the current president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said Mr. Mueller's appointment as special counsel may well have something to do with that.

Senators leaving a closed-door briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein say he told them he was aware of Trump's decision to fire Comey before he wrote the president a memo saying he had lost confidence in the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Fighting back against multiple crises has consumed much of the political oxygen inside the White House, leaving Trump's agenda in doubt.

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 doesn't seize up Congress. We're doing that", she said.

In conversations with allies inside and outside the White House, Trump, who rarely assumes blame for the crises he creates, has criticised his staff as serving him poorly.

A Gallup tracking poll put Trump's approval rating at a historically low 38 percent, even before the latest wave of scandals.

Mueller Investigation Will Prolong, Not Halt, Political Controversy Over Russia