Former asst. special counsel: Don't expect public updates

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

House and Senate investigators probing Russia's ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump promised Thursday they would continue on the same track amid questions of whether the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller would curtail their work.

Rosenstein, according to his a copy of his prepared remarks at a briefing before the US House of Representatives, said that he learned on May 8 that Trump meant to fire Comey and that Trump sought Rosenstein's "advice and input" that same day. He ultimately produced a 150-page report clearing then-Attorney General Janet Reno and other top government officials of any responsibility. 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. However the White House said there would be no announcement Friday. Tim Scott, R-S.C. "I do think that the special prosecutor provides a sense of calm and confidence perhaps for the American people, which is incredibly important". Trump's troubles were compounded by Comey's subsequent assertion that the president directly asked him to back off the probe of former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.

Blum, a businessman from Dubuque, said in a separate interview on Fox Business Network on Wednesday that he is comfortable with the appointment of the special counsel to investigate alleged ties between Trump's campaign and the Russian interference.

The counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion by the campaign of President Donald Trump with Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections has become a criminal probe, several USA senators said after a briefing Thursday. "According to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, "[Rosenstein] said over and over again that Mueller is going to draw the scope of this investigation, that Mueller is going to have the resources, that Mueller is not going to be interfered with by him or the Department of Justice".

As special counsel, Mueller will direct an FBI counterintelligence investigation examining whether Russian Federation coordinated with Trump campaign associates to influence the election in his behalf.

But despite such frustrations, members agreed that Rosenstein had received a warm reception from both Republicans and Democrats at the meeting, a development that they said showed not only praise for his selection of Mueller to oversee the probe but also a recognition that Republican resistance to an independent probe was futile.

Trump later said in an interview with NBC News last week that he had made a decision to fire Comey "regardless of the recommendation" from the Justice Department.

The fact that Rosenstein, whom the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page recently lauded for having a "straight-up-the-middle" reputation, had written a highly critical memo about Comey - a document the White House at one point cited as reason for the director's dismissal - underscored his credibility.

Because it was a closed briefing, it's unclear exactly how Rosenstein described how he knew Trump would fire Comey.

Rosenstein made it abundantly clear to the lawmakers that he drafted his memo only after Trump told him of his plans to dismiss the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

"As it became clear how little he was willing to talk about it, it also became clear how broad this investigation that Mueller is about to undertake actually is", Murphy said. But he added, "I wrote it".

"I wrote it. I believe it".

The memo focuses on Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, particularly the FBI director's decision to divulge details to the public at various junctures. Rosenstein denounced that decision as "profoundly wrong and unfair".

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