Donald Trump calls naming of special counsel a 'witch hunt'

Former Gov. Frank Keating among candidates for top FBI job

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!" he tweeted Thursday.

It is the latest twist in a saga which has embroiled Donald Trump since the election in November.

He also misspelled "counsel" as "councel".

He added: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly", he said. Press leaks, including to Fox News, later established that Comey had written a memo to himself detailing at least one encounter with Trump where the president had suggested he would like to see any investigation of Flynn ended.

Mr. Rosenstein did not go as far as he could have in granting Mr. Mueller autonomy - U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was subject to less supervision from the Department of Justice when he was appointed special counsel to investigate the leaking of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Known for his independence, Mr Mueller was originally sworn in as FBI Director in the days before the 9/11 attacks but threatened to resign in 2004, along with Mr Comey who was serving as Deputy Attorney General at the time, over plans to revive warrantless NSA surveillance without any legal protections. He can also look into other crimes "such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; and to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted". His firing of Former FBI Director James Comey last week intensified questions about whether he was trying to cover up collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation.

In January, the Trump White House initially denied any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

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The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump's Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor.

Fighting back against multiple crises has consumed much of the political oxygen inside the White House, leaving Trump's agenda in doubt.

He didn't ask the White House for approval; he just pulled the trigger and told the administration it had to deal with it. The president reportedly lashed out at his own staff in recent weeks over their last-ditch efforts to provide clarity to reporters asking about his tweets, his campaign's ties to Russian Federation, his repeated blunders and his failed executive orders. It was a huge gamble by the top Republican in Congress. Ryan's defense of Trump is a calculation that Trump will ride out the troubles.

The heads of three congressional committees have demanded copies of all memos Comey wrote about his interactions with Trump, and asked Comey to testify publicly about their dealings, too, making the need for outside counsel more critical.

And by Wednesday afternoon, Rosenstein had to acknowledge the pervasive national mood: Trump's autocratic dysfunction has been exposed by Comey, a public servant of unimpeachable probity, along with occasional lapses in judgment.

A Republican political analyst, Evan Siegfried, told VOA that until Mueller's appointment, "there was zero integrity in this investigation".

Thus, while special counsel Mueller can act on his own, he is not completely separate from control by President Trump.

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