Explaining the mechanics of the Trump-Russia special counsel


Zeidenberg says he agrees with the wide array of Congress members who believe appointing the special counsel was the correct move to further the investigation following the firing of FBI director James Comey.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticizing Comey.

Durbin and other lawmakers said Rosenstein did not indicate who in the Trump administration told him to write the memo with the rationale for ousting Comey.

And The New York Times reported that the president had told Russian officials he felt the dismissal of his Federal Bureau of Investigation director had relieved "great pressure" on him.

‎He said both Republicans and Democrats both applauded when he responded to a question about the ability of Mueller to decide the contours of the investigation. "I don't think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today".

According to sources familiar with the matter, Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a request documented in a memo written by the former FBI director.

Trump cited displeasure with the FBI's Russian Federation probe as a factor in dismissing Comey.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Flynn and other advisers to Trump's campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race.

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.

On another note, President Trump met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House Thursday afternoon.

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US intelligence agencies said Russian Federation hacked emails of senior Democrats and orchestrated the release of embarrassing information in a bid to tip the 2016 USA presidential election in favour of Trump, whose views were seen as more in line with Moscow's.

"That's what I want to see, and I'm sure that's what the president wants to see is this brought to a conclusion, because it's been a steady drip, drip, drip since he's taken the oath of office", Blum said in the Fox Business interview.

Thursday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360", Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz called into question the objective of the Department of Justice naming Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

The meeting, at which all senators were free to ask questions and make statements, had been expected to be contentious as anger flared over Comey's dismissal and Rosenstein's possible role in it.

The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and who exactly made the decision.

Painter says that the final decision as to whether Mueller can proceed with his appointment lies with ethics officials within the Justice Department, and that he himself, "would support them using that authority".

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

"I wrote it. I believe it". Rosenstein denounced that decision as "profoundly wrong and unfair".

Democratic senators had been prepared to press Rosenstein to take the step of appointing a special prosecutor, but were left praising him instead before his closed-door briefing began.

Asked point-blank if he'd done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no - and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: "I think it's totally ridiculous".