Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, decries 'witch hunt'

Later, though, Trump told NBC News that he would have fired Comey "regardless" and was thinking of the "Russia thing" when he did so. Mueller on Wednesday evening was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the USA presidential election and related issues. I actually thought when I made that decision, and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

President Donald Trump charged yesterday that the stepped-up probe into whether his campaign colluded with Russian Federation to tilt last year's election was dividing the country.

President Donald Trump is assailing the naming of a special counsel as "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!"

Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.

The White House Counsel's office represents the presidency, but aides are making the case to Trump that he needs an outside legal team for this probe. "I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things".

The White House says an investigation will prove there was no collusion.

The New York Times had recently reported on a memo, allegedly written by Mr Comey, claiming Mr Trump had asked him to drop the investigation during a private meeting at the White House.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said after an all-senators briefing from Rosenstein that the deputy attorney general already knew Comey would be fired before he wrote a memo that the Trump administration initially used as justification for ousting the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief. It cited two people briefed on the call. Other advisers joined the discussion, with a goal of presenting the President with a plan for outside legal counsel as the Russian Federation investigation enters a new and potentially perilous phase for the White House.

Asked about possible obstruction of justice, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters the special counsel would "follow the facts where ever they may lead" and that "it is premature to prejudge anything at this point".

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