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Comey Testimony Before Lawmakers in Doubt After Special Counsel Named

19 May 2017

But Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said Rosenstein told the senators that he knew Trump was going to fire Comey even before he, Rosenstein, wrote the memo that Trump used as justification for the dismissal.

Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.

"I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller".

"I'm sure he's going to try to say it's a partisan effort but I don't think Mueller's going to be viewed as a partisan guy", said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). "So one of the big losers in this decision is the public", because fewer people would be likely to testify in open congressional hearings.

The potential problems aren't confined to witnesses. He was sworn in less than a week before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and went on to lead that investigation.

Rosenstein briefed USA senators on Thursday, but made no public comments. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). "I didn't hear anything that would give them assurance he would provide the access they need".

Rosenstein was returning to the Capitol on Friday for another closed-door session, this time with all members of the House.

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"Mueller's in charge, completely in charge of this investigation", said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of IL.

"It may mean that for a while, the congressional investigations will focus more on preparation for the 2018 and 2020 elections, consequences of Russian intrusion", suggested Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a Judiciary Committee member. The revelation that the decision was made prior to the memo, however, casts a suspicion over Trump's motives if the allegations of the "Comey Memo" that Trump told Comey he hoped he could "let it go" with regard to ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn prove true.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) recused himself from that panel's Russian Federation probe after he was accused of coordinating the investigation with the White House.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin echoed McCaskill, saying Rosenstein told lawmakers that he knew of Trump's intent the day before he wrote a document that the White House initially said was the main reason Comey was dismissed. But Chaffetz revealed Thursday that he is leaving Congress at the end of June.

"General Flynn's attorneys have not yet indicated their intentions regarding the Senate Intelligence Committee's subpoena".

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, is "on board" with those efforts to push ahead - but he acknowledged that congressional committees that rely on "part-time staff" can not compete with the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. "But the takeaway I had is that everything he said is that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation".

The Republican president decried the naming of a special counsel, by an official he himself appointed.

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"Democrats probably should be asking themselves, sometimes you've got to be careful what you ask for", Johnson said.

More salient is the fact that the special counsel's job is only to look for criminal behavior and, if he finds any, to prosecute the wrongdoers.

"We have two very different missions".

"If he did [fire Mueller] the political consequences would be tremendous", Pearl said.

"I would be very discouraged if somehow this new special prosecutor would preclude Jim Comey from testifying in public before our committee", he said. He also complained that there was never a special counsel for what he called the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama Administration.

As for Mueller, he's been promised the resources he needs to follow leads in the investigation and that includes the resources of the FBI. But that possibility is a long way off, lawmakers said.

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