After Thursday's meeting, senators of both political parties said the public's window into multiple ongoing congressional investigations into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election and any collusion by the Trump campaign could be constrained now that a special counsel has been appointed to lead the Justice Department's probe into the matter. He was just as frustrated when Comey again circumvented the DOJ by sending a letter to Congress 11 days before the 2016 election revealing that he was reopening the investigation.
They included Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, reports that Trump had previously pressured Comey to end a probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Trump discussing sensitive information on Islamic State with the Russian foreign minister.
The Justice Department on Friday issued a transcript of Rosenstein's remarks.
"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation", he said.
House members and senators said Rosenstein steered clear of specifics in answering questions about his appointment of former FBI director as special counsel but made clear that Mueller has wide latitude to pursue the investigation wherever it leads, potentially including criminal charges.
"The biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to proceed forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation", the South Carolina Republican said.
Trump then reportedly insisted, "I'm not under investigation".
"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" At a luncheon with network television news anchors, Trump intensified his criticism, saying appointment of a special counsel "hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country". Despite the president's furious reaction, some fellow Republicans welcomed Mueller's appointment and expressed hopes it would restore some composure to a capital plunged in chaos.
Indeed, if Trump had not fired the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, his attempt at a sweetheart deal on Valentine's Day might never have come to light. Mr. Comey - who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark blue suit that day - told Mr. Wittes that he tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room, in the hopes that Mr. Trump would not spot him and call him out.
He offered new justifications for his decision Thursday, even while referring to the Rosenstein memo as "a very, very strong recommendation".
Of course, as we've come to expect of Trump, there was never any evidence that he actually had sent anyone on his witch hunt. Calls for a special counsel to investigate escalated after Trump fired Comey.
Trump later told a reporter that he was thinking of Comey's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation when he made the decision.