The Trump-Russia probe is now investigating a possible cover-up

Trump claims 'witch hunt' as special counsel takes lead

Mueller's appointment could signal a turning point in the investigation into Russia's role in the presidential election and raises the stakes for President Trump.

But, wait, there was more: Comey, the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday evening, has agreed to publicly testify before it some time after Memorial Day.

Mr Mueller, who will have wide-ranging powers, said simply: "I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability".

"As the President has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity", White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in response to the story.

This is what OBSTRUCTION looks like: "I faced great pressure because of Russian Federation".

Mr Comey had been investigating whether there was collusion between Russian Federation and anyone connected to the Trump campaign during last year's election.

The back-to-back headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle. At the center of the political firestorm are Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort, and their multiple undisclosed contacts with Russian officials during and after the vote.

For Trump's Republican enablers in Congress, Mueller's appointment offers a mild (and temporary) political reprieve. Nor were there any major legal scandals involving former President Barack Obama. The CIA also continues to provide "raw intelligence" to congressional committees.

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"I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media", panel Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement.

Mr Kushner has long advised the President both during his campaign and in the White House.

Early in the day, a seething Trump took to Twitter to blast the appointment, which shook Washington and sent world stock markets tumbling.

Stringing the timeline together, this exchange took place right as his White House staff, with only an hour's notice, began spinning the firing as the result of a recommendation made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo criticizing Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. At the same time, Trump is under scrutiny for allegedly asking James Comey, former FBI director just fired by Trump, to halt an investigation into the relations between former Trump's national security adviser Mike Flynn and Russian Federation.

The White House did not comment on the authenticity of Trump's conversation with the Russian officials in the Oval Office on May 9. In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As special counsel, Mueller will have all the same powers as a US attorney, though he will still ultimately report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That firm is also home to Jamie Gorelick, who has represented Trump's daughter, Ivanka. Manafort is Trump's former campaign chairman, and has been an important focus of the USA investigation of Trump's associates and Russian Federation.

In the job, Mueller will have all the same powers as a US attorney, though he will still ultimately report to Rosenstein. He will request a budget that includes personnel.

The Justice Department's decision to put Mueller in charge of the investigation comes as the White House was already reeling from a series of self-inflicted controversies.

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