Trump alleges double-standard following special counsel appointment

Trump alleges double-standard following special counsel appointment

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller (FBI photo)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump Thursday morning responded to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller III as independent counsel in the Trump-Russia probe pointing out that the Obama Justice Department declined to take such action while investigation Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he welcomes Mueller’s role but noted the bipartisan investigation in the House will also continue.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also applauded Mueller’s appointment but insisted that an independent investigating commission still is necessary.

“We are pleased the Justice Department has answered Congressional Democrats’ calls for a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into the Trump-Russia connection…. A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last.  Director Mueller will still be in the chain of command under the Trump-appointed leadership of the Justice Department. He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump Administration’s meddling,” Pelosi said in a Wednesday evening statement.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Muller independent counsel Wednesday following two days of intense bipartisan criticism stemming from The New York Times reporting that recently fired FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo about a February meeting with President Donald Trump in which the president reportedly told Comey that he hoped the Bureau would not pursue the Flynn investigation.

Rosenstein is scheduled to give senators a closed briefing Thursday afternoon regarding the circumstances surrounding Comey’s dismissal. The deputy attorney general is expected to brief members of the House Friday morning.

Comey’s memo quotes Trump as saying in the memo: “I hope you can let this go.” Trump also reportedly described Flynn as a “good guy.”

In the memo Como reportedly agreed that Flynn is a “good guy” but the director did not address whether or not the investigation would continue.

Flynn resigned in February following reports that he had diplomatically engaged Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump taking office and that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about that conversation.

Those reports suggested that Flynn may have given Kislyak the impression that the incoming administration might be willing to consider lifting sanctions that were imposed on Moscow following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian territory.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March recused himself from the Trump-Russia probe following reports that he had twice met with Kislyak while a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Shortly before leaving office, former President Barack Obama imposed additional sanctions on Russia after receiving information from the intelligence community suggesting the country tried to sabotage Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Flynn has more recently come under scrutiny for failing to disclose on his security clearance application payments he received from Russian media outlets.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates last week told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that she warned the Trump administration 18 days before Flynn’s termination that the retired lieutenant general may have been vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Both the House and Select Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating Russian attempts to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and high-ranking Russian officials.

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