Democrats Slam Trump's Criticism of Stepped-up Russia Probe

The Justice Department abruptly appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday night as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump's campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House.

While briefly addressing one question about the Russian Federation matter, Trump said the entire situation "divides" the United States.

By Wednesday evening, a Republican source said that the move effectively shut down Congress' intense digging into Comey and his conversations with Trump.

"That's all this is".

"I think a lot of members want the special counsel to be appointed, but don't understand that you're pretty well knocked out of the game", Graham said.

He said it "shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not unified country" and is "a very, very negative thing". "And hopefully, this can go quickly". Democrats have made unfounded allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation even though former Obama administration officials, such as former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, have testified under oath that no such evidence exists.

Trump also contended that Comey "was very unpopular with most people" in Washington - Republicans and Democrats.

While Trump tweeted and voiced his indignation at the White House, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed a special counsel to lead an independent federal Trump-Russia investigation, briefed the entire Senate in private. Rosenstein threatened to resign from the Justice Department because of the explanation that White House officials were giving reporters about the firing, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Believe me, there's no collusion", the president continued.

The president earlier on Thursday claimed without evidence that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, and political opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, committed "illegal acts" that never resulted in the appointment of a special counsel. McConnell aides wouldn't say whether Rosenstein requested that the briefing be classified or whether he has told Senate leaders that he has classified information to share.

It later emerged that Comey had made notes of his meetings with Trump, who reportedly asked him to quash an investigation into Flynn's contacts with foreign governments.

The Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States election and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Shortly after Mueller's appointment was announced, the White House sent out a statement attributed to Trump that was a bit toned down from his Thursday tweets and remarks.

Trump strongly disagreed. The appointment, he said in a briefing with news anchors, "hurts our country terribly".

"He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed, prior to writing his memo", Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters after the meeting. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was seen as the front-runner.

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