Trump heads overseas, turmoil in his wake

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According to senators who were present at the closed-door meeting, Mr Rosenstein confirmed that he had known that former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey was about to be fired before he wrote a memo setting out the rationale for his dismissal on May 9th.

2 Democrat in the Senate, said Rosenstein told lawmakers at a closed briefing that he learned of Trump's decision to fire Comey "and then he wrote his memo with his rationale" for the president's action. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said that Rosenstein knew before making his recommendation to Trump that the president would fire Comey.

"He answered a lot of questions but declined to answer a lot, as well", Durbin said.

Trump is responding to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead a probe of allegations that Trump's campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the election. As questions about whether or not the firing might constitute obstruction of justice swirled between White House staff pointed to the Rosenstein memo as their justification, which the deputy attorney general later disputed. It didn't amount to a finding of official misconduct by Comey, Rosenstein said, or a statement of reasons justifying a for-cause dismissal. Was he naive enough not to see that coming?

Trump cited displeasure with the FBI's Russian Federation probe as a factor in dismissing Comey.

Rosenstein was on Capitol Hill this afternoon and faced tough questions from senators about the events that led up to FBI Director James Comey's termination and his decision to appoint a special counsel.

Most importantly, Mueller's appointment shows that the Department of Justice is willing to conduct an investigation independent of the White House.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the number-two Republican in the Senate and a member of its Intelligence committee, said after the briefing that he told Rosenstein he was anxious about the committees stepping on the FBI's toes.

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.

But President Trump had a different opinion, taking to Twitter to call the selection of a special counsel "The single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history". However the White House said there would be no announcement Friday. "When I made that decision I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such bad thing about Director Comey".

Now the Democrats have to rely on the results of former FBI director Robert Mueller's investigation to provide actual evidence of the left's repeated claims that there's a massive Trump/Russia conspiracy afoot.

In his opening remarks, Rosenstein admitted he played a role in firing Comey in part because of his handling of public statements he made about the agency's investigations including one about the mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton using a private email server while she was secretary of State.

"I think Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein responded to the extent he thought appropriate within the context of the investigations that are ongoing", he said.

Trump, combative and complaining, fell short Thursday in trying to resolve investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office. "I have made no such determination", Rosenstein said.