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Mueller returns: Can he save Trump from himself?

19 May 2017

As for the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russian Federation probe, the President said, "I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt".

Two days later, in a May 11 interview with NBC, Trump contradicted his own spokesmen and said he'd made a decision to fire Comey "regardless of the recommendation" of Rosenstein.

At the White House, Trump conceded that the allegations and investigations - in the House and Senate and now in the hands of a special counsel named Wednesday night - are distracting him from a host of campaign promises.

Trump claimed that the report on Comey's memo was not true.

"In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter", Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein briefed the Senate after being invited by Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week to address the chamber to explain why Trump fired Comey.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Trump said Thursday at a White House news conference. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many of other things.

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Mueller is the man Rosenstein tapped Wednesday to head the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into whether anyone on Trump's campaign colluded with Russian operatives who sought to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Lindsey Graham said he believes the investigation has evolved into a criminal investigation.

Rosenstein appointed ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to handle the entire Russian Federation investigation Wednesday and answered questions from senators on the decision to do so and the future of that investigation.

Initially, Mr Trump appeared to welcome the move. Warner of Virginia said Comey's testimony should come "sooner rather than later".

"He is widely respected in Congress, across the political spectrum", Leahy said.

"One of the losers in this is the public", Graham said.

But Thursday morning, Trump lashed out on Twitter, calling it the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"Honor that decision, cooperate where it is appropriate, fight back where you have the legal ability to do so", Graham said.

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The president is constitutionally granted wide powers, but he swears an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

During the White House press conference on Thursday, when asked whether he required Comey to shut down the probe into Flynn, Trump answered: "No. No". Lawmakers of both parties have praised Muller's integrity and the decision to make him special counsel. "I hope that we don't inadvertently trip up or damage the independent investigation of the special counsel", he said.

"That was a consistent statement of his throughout", Murphy said.

"And I think if you even look at what Acting Director [Andrew] McCabe said last week, he made it very clear that they had the resources that they need and that the work continues".

Durbin said he found Mueller's comments that the administration won't try to involve itself in the investigation reassuring. "I think that opportunity has been lost, maybe for the greater good".

Lest we forget, President Richard Nixon picked L. Patrick Gray, a Nixon loyalist, to fill the post of acting Federal Bureau of Investigation director following the death of J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972.

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