A solid decision on the Russia probe

U.S. President Donald Trump assails ‘witch hunt’ after special counsel is named to investigate allegations that Trump's campaign collaborated with Russia

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.

Referencing a "poor, poor performance" that he said Comey had had before a House committee the week before his firing, Trump said at a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos: "That is why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very strong letter". "As to Mr. Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, coming before the committee, if I were Mr. Mueller I would jealously guard the witness pool".

The White House said the memo is not an accurate portrayal of the conversation between Mr Comey and the President. He said Rosenstein's reason was that he didn't want to infringe on special counsel Robert Mueller.

"The need for former director Comey to come testify in public soon is as great as ever", said Chuck Schumer, the Senate's top Democrat.

Rosenstein's appearance in the Senate was originally meant to allow him to explain why Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey last week, but the focus changed when Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel Wednesday night.

When White House counsel Don McGahn told President Trump that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had just appointed Mueller as special prosecutor for the Russian probe, the president handled the news well than anyone expected. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said, after leaving a closed-door briefing with Rosenstein for the full Senate on Capitol Hill. "I think at this point, we are 24-hours into him shifting the responsibility to Muller, and he is very comfortable allowing Mueller to take the investigation as far, as deep and as wide as necessary to discern all the information to draw a conclusion".

The decision to place the inquiry in the hands of Robert Mueller was a political blow to Trump and indicates how serious the allegations levelled against the President have become.

Mueller's appointment was welcomed by politicians from both sides. "Mr. Rosenstein has done the right thing", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on the Senate floor.

Zeidenberg was the assistant special counsel in the 2003 investigation into the leaking of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame, which ultimately lead to Vice President Dick Cheney's advisor Scooter Libby being convicted of obstruction of justice, among other counts. "And so I would be certain we had independent investigators to conduct those investigations".

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