Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the decision after a week of rising pressure on the Justice Department to ensure the probe remains independent of the White House. He further claimed to have fired Mr Comey after deciding that the basis of the FBI's investigation into his possible ties to Russian Federation was a "made-up story".
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel for the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation was "perfectly appropriate".
When President Trump tweeted this morning, "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history", Senator Amy Klobuchar quickly responded tweeting, "This is a truth hunt".
"Bob Mueller doesn't have, for example, the same broader responsibility to get into the kind of financial entanglements that I have especially focused on", Wyden said. Both Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken attended the highly unusual closed-door briefing by Rosenstein.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Comey should still appear before congressional committees that have invited him to testify.
"It was a counter-intelligence investigation before now".
Sen. Coons concerned by alleged Trump leak
The U.S. and Western officials all spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive information. Some of the leaders Trump will meet come from countries the USA has intelligence-sharing agreements with.
People familiar with the investigation said the intensifying effort does not mean that criminal charges are near, or that any such charges will result.
"He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed, prior to writing his memo", Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters after the meeting. Tim Scott, R-S.C. "I do think that the special prosecutor provides a sense of calm and confidence perhaps for the American people, which is incredibly important". Then-FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March.
Mueller will have the ability to hire a staff and request a budget from the Department of Justice. Some lawmakers, like California Democrat Maxine Waters, have vigorously demanded the president's impeachment, while others have been more restrained - raising it only as the possible outcome of a process that still has a very long way to go. Mark Warner (D-VA).
So far, President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, have been the public centers of the investigation.
Some congressional Republicans have also suggested that Mueller's appointment would lead to changes in Congress' investigation.
In March, for example, the White House disclosed that Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met executives of Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, in December. He also has broad authority to chase the leads wherever they may go. He is expected to speak to the press following the meeting.
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