A frustrated Trump lashes out at special counsel Mueller
United States President Donald Trump yesterday took out his frustrations over the intensifying Russia investigation by lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller, signaling a possible shift away from a strategy of cooperating with a probe he believes is biased against him.
In a series of weekend tweets naming Mueller for the first time, Trump criticised the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and raised fresh concerns about the objectivity and political leanings of the members of Mueller's team.
Trump also challenged the honesty of Andrew McCabe, the newly fired FBI deputy director, and James Comey, the bureau's former director whom Trump fired last year over the Russia probe.
The president's aggressive stance followed a call last Saturday by his personal lawyer for Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump appointed as deputy attorney general and who now oversees Mueller's inquiry, to "bring an end" to that investigation.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which spent the past year conducting a parallel investigation, recently said they had drafted a report concluding no collusion or coordination between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. Committee Democrats vehemently disagreed.
"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime," Trump tweeted Saturday. "It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!"
Trump was referring to a dossier of anti-Trump research funded by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
CROSSING RED LINE
Likely adding to Trump's growing frustration, The New York Times reported last week
that Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organization and requested Russia-related documents. Trump had said Mueller would cross a red line with such a step.
"Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?" Trump tweeted yesterday.
Some of Mueller's investigators indeed have contributed to Democratic political candidates, but Justice Department policy and federal service law bar discrimination in the hiring of career positions on the basis of political affiliation. Mueller is a Republican.
Trump's attacks raised new concerns among members of Congress that he could be seeking to orchestrate Mueller's firing. Republican and Democratic lawmakers warned Trump to not even think about it.