Rosenstein Briefing to Senate Suggests Russia Probe Now Criminal, Republican Senator Says

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In his first substantive comments about the appointment of a special counsel to probe Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, President Donald Trump denied that his campaign had been involved in any collusion with Moscow, as he declared that the probe "divides the country".

In a statement at the time, the White House, on the President's behalf, said, "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".

News reports in recent days have indicated that Trump also previously asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, who quit his post in January after lying to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador after the election.

"I think the shot to the body is it's now considered a criminal investigation", Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a former military prosecutor, said as he exited the closed-door briefing in the basement of the Capitol. But Rosenstein's remarks to lawmakers suggested that what had been a "counterintelligence investigation" was now morphing into a criminal one, one senator said afterward. In the past 10 days, the president abruptly made a decision to fire his FBI director and then acknowledged that it was due, in part, to his objections to the Russian Federation investigation.

"There is mounting evidence of obstruction of justice", Blumenthal said, avoiding a specific question as to whether he was referring to President Trump or the firing of Comey.

Trump is both publicly and privately stewing about Rosenstein's decision to name a special counsel. Trump tweeted. "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

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Rosenstein may have blunted some of the criticism of his actions in the past week with his announcement Wednesday that he had appointed a special counsel.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said he is supportive of investigations in Congress but expressed concern about the "proliferation" of hearings. And senators from both parties said Rosenstein told them Thursday he was aware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation director would be fired when he drafted it.

Ever the lingo snobs, the reference noted that "councel" is the most searched word of the day deploying the line "by far", to use terms the President might have said a few times.

Jones agreed with Banks's take on the investigation into Russian meddling in the USA election and possible ties to the Trump administration. In addition, Comey wrote a memo detailing Trump's comments to him in February saying "I hope you can let this go", referring to the Flynn probe, a source who saw the memo said on Tuesday. He was sacked as national security adviser in February after it emerged he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations with Russia's ambassador to Washington in December.

But that changed on Wednesday evening when Rosenstein announced that he had appointed another former FBI director, Robert Mueller, to conduct an independent investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign.

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