Comey Testimony Before Lawmakers in Doubt After Special Counsel Named

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the Russian Federation probe - a concession by the Trump administration to Democrats, who had intensified their calls for a special counsel - after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.

In closed-door meetings with lawmakers on Thursday and Friday, Rosenstein said he wrote the memo after Trump told him one day before the May 9 firing that he wanted to dismiss Comey.

To emphasize the independence of his decision, Rosenstein did not notify White House counsel Donald McGahn of the appointment until 5:30 p.m., the same time Justice Department officials were briefing reporters and 30 minutes before the news became public. In March, Kushner volunteered to answer lawmakers' questions about meetings he had with Russian officials during the transition.

The Senate Intelligence Committee and House Government Oversight Committee have each requested Comey testify before their panels.

Rosenstein developed a reputation in Maryland for being apolitical, but that standing was put to the test after the White House used his memo to justify Comey's ouster.

Separately, The Washington Post reported Friday that the FBI investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump presidential campaign was moving closer to the White House.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the memo the president initially cited as justification for firing FBI Director James Comey. That was the White House's position initially after the deputy attorney general argued in a memo that Comey had erred in handling the FBI's investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server, even though Trump had praised Comey on the campaign trail past year.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director Jim Comey before he sat down to write a memo criticizing Comey's conduct.

"I think that's an open question", said Democratic Senator Chris Coons of DE when asked whether Comey would appear before Congress, adding that it remained to be seen "how ongoing congressional investigations will be coordinated with the special counsel".

Trump is scheduled to leave Washington on Friday on his first foreign trip, a nine-day sojourn with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium, as well as a visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis.

Trump referred to Comey's testimony at a recent Capitol Hill hearing after which the Justice Department ended up having to amend part of his testimony regarding last year's probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices.

"There was considerable frustration in the room", said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee. That telling cast Rosenstein as the prime person behind the decision to fire Comey, even though Trump later stated that he already had chose to termination the director before asking Rosenstein for the memo. "Believe me, there's no collusion". Rosenstein denounced that as "profoundly wrong and unfair". A special counsel, by contrast, is an official appointed by the Justice Department and subject, like many other federal criminal investigators and prosecutors, to the Justice Department's supervision and control. However, at a combative news conference Thursday, he fell short in trying to resolve questions about investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office.

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