The U.S. Department of Justice has appointed a special independent counsel to investigate connections between Russia and the U.S president. The White House denies reports that President Donald Trump asked the former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into his national security advisor.
CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.
US Justice Dept appoints special counsel for Trump-Russia probeThe U.S. Department of Justice has appointed a special independent counsel to investigate connections between Russia and the U.S president. The White House denies reports that President Donald Trump asked the former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into his national security advisor. CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.
Robert Mueller led the FBI for 12 years. Now, he will investigate whether the Donald Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller takes over for Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. In his announcement, Rosenstein said he made the decision because a “Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”
Not long after the announcement, President Trump issued a statement which said in part:
“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
The move to name a special counsel comes after growing calls for an independent prosecutor – even from members of the president’s own party.
Timeline: Russia’s influence on Trump’s presidency
“I think it’s time that we do whatever is necessary that, when this is over, we give the American people the confidence that justice, either way it goes, has been served,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. “And I think we are getting to the point where this has become too political.”
Lawmakers are also asking fired FBI director James Comey to provide records of his conversations with President Trump.
Comey previously led the FBI’s investigation into ties between Trump’s national security advisory Michael Flynn and Russian officials. Trump fired Comey last week.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported Comey kept records of his meetings with Trump, including one where the president told him quote: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” A White House spokesman says Comey’s account is not accurate.
At the same time, Trump is preparing to leave for his first foreign trip on Friday. He travels to the Middle East where he’ll focus on counter terrorism and the NATO and G7 summits, and try to leave the controversy behind.
According to a senior administration official, Trump is willing to take the U.S. out of the NATO alliance if there isn’t better burden sharing.
The White House has determined that the agreement is not legally binding so the U.S. plans to change its commitments – if it remains in the deal.
And at this point Trump is also open to expanding the Group of Seven economic conferences to include both Russia and China.