This was one of several interactions that Comey believed jeopardized the FBI's independence, the Times reports, and he instructed the president on the proper way to receive details about investigations: have the White House counsel send inquiries to the Department of Justice. In addition to complaining he was being abused in unprecedented ways, he took aim anew at his presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying she never faced a special counsel despite "all the illegal acts that took place" in her campaign. It immediately escalated the legal stakes - and the potential political damage - for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a "hoax".
President Donald Trump on Thursday morning blasted the naming of Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
As special counsel, Mueller will have all the same powers as a USA attorney, though he will still ultimately report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
"In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter", Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein, who at his confirmation hearing would not commit to a special counsel appointment and who inherited the probe following Sessions' recusal, seemed to acknowledge the public outcry by calling Mueller's selection "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome".
The special counsel also would seek indictments and lead court action against anyone charged with criminal acts as a result of discoveries during the probe.More news: Trump says he's 'very close' to naming a new FBI director
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Suspicions that the White House may have tried to influence the Justice Department's own investigation of the Russian matter, which the FBI began past year, arose when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey a week ago.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the White House said the investigation would find no evidence of collusion.
The series of bombshell allegations has left Trump aides dazed and wondering about the future of his young presidency.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russian Federation, but he seems to be continuing to devolve on Twitter since Mueller's selection was announced.
Mr Comey succeeded him, having been appointed by Mr Obama. Mr. Mueller still technically answers to the Justice Department, but it would appear that he has a bright green light to investigate wherever the facts lead him. Can we now genuinely discuss potentially impeaching the 45th president of the United States?
Rosenstein's announcement followed more than a week of chaos emanating from the White House, starting with Comey's firing last Tuesday and continuing through the news Monday that Trump divulged classified information to Russian officials and Tuesday's stunning report that Trump asked Comey in a private meeting to stop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. "His reaction was 'extremely measured, ' another said". After the Nixon fiasco, Congress passed a law creating independent prosecutors - someone appointed by a special panel of judges who could only by fired by the attorney general, and only then for "good cause". "I am on a fact-finding mission", he said on CNN.