Russian Federation probe 'hurts our country terribly'

CNN's Chris Cuomo said President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey due to a memo from Assistant Attorney General Ros Rosenstein was "B.S".

Senators said that Rosenstein steered clear of specifics while making clear that Mueller has wide latitude to pursue the investigation wherever it leads, including potentially criminal charges.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said after the meeting that Rosenstein had essentially confirmed Trump's recounting.

However, he quickly changed his tune, tweeting on Thursday morning that the ongoing investigation amounts to "the single greatest witch hunt" in US history.

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt", Trump said Thursday during a White House news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. "There is no collusion".

The press conference comes one day after Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel into the investigation of possible Russian Federation collusion with the Trump campaign, and one day before Trump will take his first foreign trip as President of the United States.

The deputy attorney general told senators that a memo he wrote about Comey's performance, cited by Trump as a reason for firing Comey, was written after Rosenstein knew that Trump had made a decision to fire the director, senators said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will oversee the probe.

"(Rosenstein) did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo", McCaskill said.

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Because it was a closed briefing, it's unclear exactly how Rosenstein described how he knew Trump would fire Comey.

Asked if he pressured Comey to halt the Flynn probe, Trump said: "No, no".

Initial statements from the White House said Mr Trump had fired Mr Comey on the recommendation of the Justice Department because of his handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

"If your implication is that the White House wants this, I think that's wrong", said Senate judiciary chair Chuck Grassley Wednesday night.

Matthew Miller, a former spokesman for the Justice Department who has been critical of Trump, tweeted on Thursday that Rosenstein's admission was "terrible" because it showed that he "completely compromised DOJ's independence & his integrity". "There has been no collusion", Trump said.

Trump is leaving Friday for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, and aides had hoped the disarray at home would have been calmed if not resolved, allowing the White House to refocus and move ahead. "As the special counsel does his work, the Congress must establish an independent commission to conduct thorough and public hearings to ensure all of the facts are brought to light".

"I think for months, well into 2018, we are going to see this administration hobbled by this investigation".

Mueller's broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russian Federation probe, but also "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

The Senate intelligence committee also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to turn over any notes Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia's efforts to influence the election.

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