Ties to Comey Suggest Conflict of Interest for Special Counsel Mueller

In a series of statements on Twitter Thursday, Trump called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign a "WITCH HUNT" based on the "phony" premise of possible collusion between Russia and a cadre of Trump campaign associates.

That report makes clear that three senior intelligence officers - Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and and former NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett - are being interviewed this week by special counsel Bob Mueller as he looks into whether Trump obstructed justice in the Russian Federation case.

Mueller was hired by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, just eight days after Trump fired Comey.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the USA election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year".

The obstruction of justice investigation into Trump began days after Comey was sacked on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter, the Washington Post said.

Democrats pounced, accusing Sessions of "stonewalling" and "obstructing" the Senate committee's investigation. Sen. "You raised your right hand here today and you said that you would solemnly tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and now you're. impeding this investigation".

Trump demonstrated Friday morning that the Russian Federation probe continues to consume his attention, tweeting a stream of messages decrying the controversy.

Trump's decision to go after Rosenstein sparked widespread speculation in Washington that he may dismiss the deputy attorney general in yet another attempt to get past the Russian Federation investigation, although the likely effect of such a step would be to ignite a new political firestorm and claims that the President is abusing his power and mounting a coverup. Comey later revealed that he orchestrated a disclosure of details about conversations with Trump to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. An hour later, Trump was back at it, calling the investigation the "single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history".

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The decision came after leaders of the Senate panel met with special counsel Robert Mueller.

A source on Trump's legal team claimed the president was referring to a Washington Post story "from the other night" rather than confirming he is being investigated.

"The Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel", Pence communications director Jared Agen said in a statement.

Mueller has assembled a high-powered team of top investigators and leading experts, including seasoned attorneys who've represented major American companies in court and who have worked on cases ranging from Watergate to the Enron fraud scandal.

However, it's likely that Rosenstein's cryptic words pertain to the recent report (which Trump blasted as "phony") from WaPo about how Muller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. After Comey's much-watched Senate testimony, the president said in a press conference that he would testify under oath regarding his interactions and conversations with the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

In the event of such a development, President Trump would only create further legal troubles, according to McQuade. Trump has expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the Justice Department since Mueller's appointment.

Trump is not the only one under scrutiny, Barrett said: Investigators are also looking into the finances of Trump associates.

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