President Donald Trump acknowledged on Friday that he is personally under investigation as part of a widening probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year's US presidential race and possible collusion by his campaign, an inquiry that has cast a shadow over his five months in office.
Not only is Special Counsel Robert Mueller looking at obstruction of justice charges for Trump, he's also investigating Jared Kushner's finances, probably as a potential explanation for that secret backchannel to Putin he tried to establish. "Witch Hunt", wrote Trump.
She noted that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, told senators this week that only he could dismiss the special counsel. When Comey was deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, he appointed a close friend and former colleague, Patrick Fitzgerald, as special counsel to investigate who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer. Trump was reviving his claim that Rosenstein urged him to fire Comey in a memo, though Trump himself disputed this reasoning shortly after in an interview with NBC News's Lester Holt, in which he said "regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey".
But days later he said in an NBC interview that he had chose to fire Comey before getting their input and he was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing" when he did it.
Lawyers for Trump released a letter May 12 saying Trump does not have any income, debt or investments related to Russian Federation, with a couple exceptions.
During his testimony before the same Senate committee last week, Comey said he felt he was sacked in large part because he refused to drop an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible nefarious ties between Russian officials and Trump's campaign adviser and first national-security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The president complained the probe is unfair and wondered why his defeated Democratic opponent wasn't getting the same scrutiny.
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"Mueller is setting up a dragnet of obstruction, financial questions and every aspect of Trump's life and his associates lives", said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who labeled it "very unsafe".
ABC News reported on Friday that Rosenstein has said privately he may need to recuse himself from matters relating to the Russian Federation probe because he could become a witness in the investigation.
Rosenstein also appointed Robert Mueller to investigate ties between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. Rosenstein, the official who would be responsible for dismissing Mueller, told U.S. lawmakers he would fire him only with good cause. "It is my view that fully investigating the facts, circumstances, and rationale for Mr. Comey's removal will provide us the opportunity to do that on a cooperative, bipartisan basis", according to the letter.
A Justice Department official - who declined to speak on the record - told CNN that the White House didn't order Rosenstein's statement.
Trump's campaign and his associates are under the microscope for their Russia ties - as opposed to Clinton and other Democrats' unspecified "dealings with Russia" - because the investigation is about Russian interference in the election. The White House denies any collusion.
Trump, however, referred to the Post's reporting as a "phony" story in a tweet Thursday. "Sad!" he wrote in one post. Pence headed the Trump transition until Inauguration Day. He also checked in with a "witch", played by Andy Samberg, who rejected Trump's comparison. Flynn was forced to resign for misleading administration officials about his contacts with Russia's USA ambassador.
He also has millions of followers on his official Facebook pages. Vice president Mike Pence, who has mostly been on the sidelines of the investigations, has hired his own outside legal counsel, veteran Washington lawyer Richard Cullen, his spokesman said Thursday.