During his meeting with Russian officials last week, President Donald Trump said recently fired FBI Director James Comey was a "nut job" whose ouster relieved "great pressure" on him, according to a report Friday in The New York Times.
"You have to have intent in order to obstruct justice in the criminal sense", the source said, adding that "intent is hard to prove".
The Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the growing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump associates.
The decision by the deputy attorney-general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came after a cascade of damaging developments for Trump in recent days, including his abrupt dismissal of the FBI director, James B. Comey, and the subsequent disclosure that Trump had asked Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. However, a special counsel has less autonomy than a special prosecutor, a role phased out in 1999.
The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well. Trump said Thursday he was "very close" to naming a replacement and that former Connecticut Sen.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will tell a Senate hearing today that the us economy can grow 3 percent or more if regulatory and tax reforms are enacted, according to a copy of his speech seen by Reuters. But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious since Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into Flynn's Russian Federation ties.
President Trump didn't get much of a heads up on the appointment of Mueller, who led the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 12 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "Zero", Trump said at a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Richard Burr, said Flynn's lawyer told the panel he would not honor its subpoena seeking relevant documents.
The committee said Thursday it sent a letter requesting material from the FBI and Justice Department related to its ongoing counterintelligence investigation.
The memo focuses on Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, particularly the FBI director's decision to divulge details to the public at various junctures.
Trump himself, in a statement right after the appointment late Wednesday, said merely, "A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".