Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Says Trump's Decision to Fire Comey Was 'Appropriate'

Kevin Lamarque  Reuters

Kevin Lamarque Reuters

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 18, 2017, for a closed-door meeting with Senators a day after appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and President Donald Trump's campaign.

One official read sections of it to a New York Times reporter, leaving press secretary Sean Spicer flummoxed as he left town on Trump's first overseas voyage as president.

The question is whether President Trump's alleged request to Comey to let go of the Flynn investigation, or any other negative action or statement by the president with regard to the Russian Federation investigation, constitutes actionable obstruction of justice.

UPDATED | The US Justice Department has named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow. He also dismissed as "ridiculous" the accusation that he colluded with Russian Federation.

Those familiar with the case said its significance had increased before Mueller's appointment. Neither, for that matter, did President Trump's firing of Comey, which the president linked to his frustration with the amount of time devoted to that investigation, to the exclusion of an investigation into illegal leaks of classified information.

Many Democrats and some Republicans have raised alarms that the president may have tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey.

Shortly after Mueller was assigned to lead the Russian Federation probe on Wednesday, the president said it would prove that his campaign did not collude with any foreign entity, adding that he looked forward to this matter concluding quickly.

President Trump shook hands with FBI Director James B. Comey during a law enforcement reception at the White House on January 22.

"He appointed Mueller because he was cognizant enough to understand whether or not he thought he could be fair in the investigation was irrelevant", said Steven Silverman, a Baltimore attorney who has known Rosenstein for years.

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.

The prospect of other Trump-related investigations in the future is part of why Painter has expressed support for Lieberman, saying that the new director "should be someone who we have confidence can have an active role in other investigations concerning the Trump administration, which are outside the scope of the Special Counsel".

The FBI's investigation has bedeviled the Trump administration, and the president personally. While she didn't say she would oppose him, she did say that "the appointment must be what's right for the Federal Bureau of Investigation at this time".

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill welcomed the Justice Department action, but House and Senate Republican leaders said they would go on with their own investigations of the Russian Federation matter.

Multiple Trump campaign officials have been revealed to have had contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Comey should still appear before congressional committees that have invited him to testify. Joseph Lieberman - who was, by Thursday, Trump's reported leading candidate for the position.

This comes after Trump himself admitted in an interview with NBC that he was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing" when he fired Comey, directly contradicting what his advisors had told reporters the night before.

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly", he said.

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