Trump lawyers up as Russian Federation probe intensifies

President Donald Trump accompanied by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos right speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House Thursday May 18th 2017 in Washington

Donald Trump denies asking ex-FBI chief James Comey to stop Mike Flynn probe

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein firmly stood by the memo he wrote that outlined James Comey's offenses - and later was cited by the White House to support President Trump's decision to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation director - during briefings with Capitol Hill lawmakers, according to remarks obtained by Fox News.

Rosenstein's opening statement did not mention a New York Times report, published on Tuesday, that Comey had written memos describing what he felt were inappropriate efforts by Trump to influence the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.

"Before I discuss the events of the past two weeks, I want to provide some background about my previous relationship with former Director Comey", Rosenstein said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released to reporters after the briefing.

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.

'It is a candid memorandum about the FBI Director's public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation, ' Rosenstein said, according to a copy of his opening statement, The Hill reported.

It also marked the end of something of a Twitter hiatus for Trump, who is rarely shy from voicing his personal opinions on the social media platform. In his remarks, Rosenstein shared that he was dismayed by Comey's press conference from last July in which he "usurped" the Department of Justice and revealed findings from the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.

Given the frequency with which Flynn and others reportedly communicated with Russian officials, flat denials by the president and his aides suggest either total ignorance of the actions of Trump subordinates or the capacity for bald-face, repeated lies to the American people.

"On May 8, I learned that President Trump meant to remove Director Comey and sought my advice and input", Rosenstein said. Trump told NBC two days after firing Comey, however, that he meant to do it "regardless" of Rosenstein's recommendation.

Despite initially opposing appointment of an independent counsel, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development "helps assure people and the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along". Part of the reason was that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recently recused himself from the investigation. Trump later said he had already made a decision to fire Comey regardless of Rosenstein's memo, which the deputy attorney general confirmed to Congress this week.

Did he urge Comey at a February meeting to drop his probe of the Russian Federation connections of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn?

The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said that the Russian Federation issue was a factor in firing Comey, although the White House has given different versions of the reasons for the dismissal. Asked if the appointment of a special counsel would delay the investigation, committee Chair Sen.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Trump said.

Missouri's U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is being very vocal after a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein yesterday.

"The committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former director on his role in the development of the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections", Burr said in a statement, "and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media". 'He knew the day before, ' he said, adding that Rosentein learned May 8th, the date he wrote the memo.

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