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House, Senate Russia investigators promise to plow ahead

19 May 2017

President Donald Trump said Thursday the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election is detrimental to the US state of affairs.

White House and campaign records may be subpoenaed, and Trump's presidential privilege to keep West Wing conversations private could be challenged. Current and former staffers probably will have to hire pricey lawyers and sit for interviews.

With the 2018 Congressional mid-term elections fast approaching, maybe of Trump's erstwhile allies face a hard campaign dominated by questions about the president's conduct and with few legislative victories to fall back on.

Trump's tweets signal his White House - or at least the man in charge - will try to resist Mueller's investigation, meaning the shadow of investigation will now hang over a White House in need of a morale boost.

"They will govern with constant fear of bombshell news being around the corner", said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University. Trump himself had already contradicted that explanation, telling interviewers earlier that he had already made a decision to dismiss Comey.

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Trump said Thursday that he respects "the entire thing" but said that he personally has no ties to Russian Federation.

The President also suggested that the investigation that will now be led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller was also motivated by an attempt to tarnish his election victory a year ago.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Rosenstein was briefing the Senate about his decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the independent Trump-Russia probe. But the revelations about the timeline dovetail with more recent statements from Trump that he planned to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation.

Mueller was named as special counsel on Wednesday, one day after a report surfaced that Trump had requested ex-FBI Director James Comey end any investigations involving National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation.

Trump has frequently attacked the news media and Democrats, groups that are unpopular with his supporters, as a way of solidifying his backing. "And numerous questions he declined to answer came down to his concern of whether he might interfere with the investigation by Robert Mueller".

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He reiterated his earlier comments that the investigation is a "witch hunt".

Republicans have largely stood behind Trump in the first months of his presidency as the FBI and congressional investigations into Russia's election meddling intensified.

"This is a truth hunt", said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

In his statement Wednesday night, Trump said he planned to focus on "fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country". But the snowballing Russian Federation matter has overshadowed much of his agenda and raised questions about whether Republican lawmakers will be willing to take tough votes supporting a president under the cloud of investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who signed the order informed Trump only after the appointment was made which took the White House and Political Analysts by surprise. Still, he is not subject to the day-to-day supervision of the Justice Department. Comey, who was then serving as deputy attorney general, tapped Patrick Fitzgerald to head the review, which led to the conviction of a top White House official. On April 27, 1973, less than a year later, Gray was forced to resign after it was revealed during confirmation hearings in March 1973 that, among other transgressions such as destroying papers from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative who coordinated the Watergate break-in, Gray had been passing Federal Bureau of Investigation reports on the Watergate scandal to Nixon's White House counsel, John W. Dean III. He was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate.

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Once again, Trump's tweets on Thursday saw him stake out a radical departure from the official White House line on an important issue, a habit that has repeatedly undermined his press operation in recent days, and made it even more hard for his administration to move on from a string of self-imposed crises.