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Trump calls Russia probe 'single greatest witch hunt'

19 May 2017

The U.S. Justice Department, in the face of rising pressure from Capitol Hill, named former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller on Wednesday as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow.

The Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 USA election and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mr Mueller, who commands deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Mr Trump's justice department, which had resisted calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor.

Trump, casting himself as the victim of the "single greatest witch hunt" in political history, took a defiant tone on his favorite medium, Twitter.

The same pattern was in evidence when he fired FBI Director James Comey last week then used a television interview to suggest he acted out of frustration with the FBI's Russian Federation probe - even though his team spent several days saying the ousting of the bureau's director had nothing to do with that issue.

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They contend Congress should renew the independent counsel statute to allow for the appointment of a special prosecutor who can not be fired.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill generally welcomed the Justice Department action and praised Mueller for his integrity, but House and Senate Republican leaders said they would go on with their own investigations of the Russian Federation matter. President Trump has insisted that he is not under investigation, and that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.

Trump said in a restrained statement Wednesday that Mueller's "thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity", adding that he looked forward to a speedy resolution to the probe.

"That's the nature of these investigations - that once you begin to look at one set of issues, one quickly realizes that they are connected to others", said James Davis, an American scholar and dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at St. Gallen University in Switzerland. She also wants an independent commission to handle the investigation. That could well include the firing last week of FBI Director James Comey. The FBI's counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the USA intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude.

He was asked by Democratic President Barack Obama in 2011 to stay on for two more years and was replaced by Comey in 2013.

Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama. This is surely an annoyance to President Trump.

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Despite initially opposing appointment of an independent counsel, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development "helps assure people and the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along".

Most Democratic members have yet to say the word "impeachment" outright and continue to dance around the subject, with some notable exceptions. The move aimed to quell the wave of criticism facing the Trump administration since the president fired Comey last week as the investigation intensified. In this case, painting himself as the unfair target of an investigation that was widely applauded across the political spectrum may instead serve to highlight his isolation.

Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said he was confident Mueller "will conduct a thorough and fair investigation". Frank Keating and Andrew McCabe, who is serving as the FBI's acting director. Joe Lieberman, former Oklahoma Gov.

According to an Associated Press report, Trump interviewed former Connecticut Sen.

Separately, McClatchy News Service reported Wednesday that before Trump took office, Flynn had blocked an Obama administration military plan, opposed by Turkey, against the Islamic State group.

Trump is preparing to leave town Friday on his first foreign trip, and aides have been hopeful the journey will be a chance for the administration to get back on track after weeks of chaos and distractions.

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