Trump Denies Asking Ex-FBI Director Comey to Drop Flynn Inquiry

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"He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to writing his memo", Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill told reporters after the briefing. However the White House said at midday that there would be no announcement Friday.

Mueller's appointment may halt the rising tide of criticism and demands for investigation into the Russian Federation controversy and even give Trump breathing room to get his house into order. Trump has been dismissive of investigations of his campaign's links to Russian Federation, saying that claims of Moscow's meddling in the election to help him win are an excuse by Democrats to explain his upset win over former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While Trump issued stern denials, the focus of the political drama turned to Capitol Hill, where Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein met with the full Senate in private to brief them on his decision to appoint Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel and take charge of the department's Russian Federation investigation.

Rosenstein briefed the Senate for 90 minutes Thursday, a meeting Democrats demanded after the release of his memo.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller has been selected to lead the inquiry.

"He knew the day before", Durbin said of Rosenstein.

Trump went on to dismiss as "totally ridiculous" the notion that he himself may have committed a prosecutable - or even impeachable - offence in recent months, as argued by some critics who suspect him of obstructing the FBI's probe.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people".

"We look forward to getting this whole situation behind us", he said, vowing to focus his administration's resources instead on creating jobs, strengthening the military and reforming health care. That's the same deputy attorney general Trump's White House initially hung its rationale for firing Comey on.

Lawmakers from both parties said they left the briefing on Capitol Hill with confidence in Rosenstein's decision, but also questions about what Mueller's probe would mean for separate investigations taking place in Congress. Each has a distinct objective, said John Barrett, a law professor at St. John's University in NY who formerly worked for the independent counsel who investigated the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

Denouncing the creation of a special counsel to investigate his campaign's ties with Russia, Mr Trump said on Thursday that the move "shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not unified country" and is "a very, very negative thing".

"You're pretty well knocked out of the game", he said about the ongoing high-profile congressional probes, "and that's probably the way it should be". "What do you need to further investigate if there is nothing that has come out?"

Based on information from Comey's memos and testimony from others close to him, it seems impossible for anyone - including the White House - to deny that Comey often felt uncomfortable with how Trump approached their relationship.

"I think people, generally speaking, would feel very confident in him and his decision making in relation to the special counsel", Sen.

Republican lawmakers also want to "distance themselves from a scandal that is threatening to overwhelm this Presidency", Mahaffee said.

Days earlier, on May 10, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters "we don't think it's necessary" to appoint a special prosecutor.

"The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it", he said, insisting "the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said Rosenstein was asked about the timeline of the firing and essentially replied, "Let the record speak for itself". I think the people in the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be very, very thrilled.