President Donald Trump has questioned the neutrality of the investigator of the Russian interference in last year’s election.
President Trump said Robert Mueller’s friendship with James Comey, who had been heading the inquiry until sacked from his role as FBI chief, was “bothersome”.
Asked on Fox News whether Robert Mueller should step down, Donald Trump said: “We’re going to have to see.”
However, President Trump did call Robert Mueller an “honorable man”.
Robert Mueller was given the role of special counsel by the justice department to lead its investigation into alleged Russian interference after James Comey was sacked on May 9.
Robert Mueller has not given any details of his investigation but US media have reported he is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice, both in the firing of James Comey and whether Donald Trump tried to end an inquiry into sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, calling it a “witch hunt”.
The president did so again in his interview with Fox & Friends on June 23, saying “there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion.”
He called the accusations of obstruction of justice “ridiculous”.
Asked whether Robert Mueller should recuse himself from the inquiry because of his friendship with James Comey, President Trump said: “Well he’s very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome. But he’s also… we’re going to have to see.”
Image source Wikimedia
President Trump also said that “the people that’ve been hired were all Hillary Clinton supporters”.
When Robert Mueller was appointed President Trump was said to be furious, but the special counsel won widespread initial praise from both Republicans and Democrats.
However, lately some influential conservatives have intensified their attacks, openly calling for Robert Mueller’s dismissal.
President Trump advocate Newt Gingrich urged the president to “rethink” Robert Mueller’s position, saying: “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.”
The New York Times has reported that President Trump has considered firing Robert Mueller but has so far been talked out of it by aides.
Ten days ago, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “While the president has every right to” fire Robert Mueller “he has no intention to do so”.
On June 23, her colleague Sean Spicer repeated there was “no intention” to dismiss Robert Mueller.
In his Fox interview, President Trump said: “Robert Mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable conclusion.”
Earlier this month, James Comey testified to Congress that President Trump had pressured him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn.
Mike Flynn was sacked in February for failing to reveal the extent of his contacts with Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak.
James Comey testified he was “sure” Robert Mueller was looking at whether Donald Trump had obstructed justice.
According to media, Robert Mueller was also examining whether James Comey’s sacking was an attempt by the president to alter the course of the investigation.
On June 16, Donald Trump sent out a tweet appearing to accept he was under investigation, although later his aides suggested that was not the intention.
On June 22, President Trump also made it clear that he had not made secret recordings of his conversations with James Comey, despite an earlier hint to the contrary.
The president’s tweet came a day before he was required by Congress to hand over any such tapes.
Donald Trump had kick-started speculation of the recordings in a tweet he posted days after firing James Comey, saying: “James Comey better hope there are no <<tapes>> of our conversations.”
Allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Moscow officials during the election have dogged the president’s first five months in office.
Investigators are looking into whether Russian cyber hackers targeted US electoral systems in order to help Donald Trump win – something Moscow has strongly denied.
However, Jeff Sessions has removed himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
The Democrats have maintained their attacks on Jeff Sessions, saying his explanation regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016 were “simply not credible”.
Donald Trump said the Democrats had “lost the election and now they have lost their grip on reality”.
The Trump campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf. Donald Trump has branded the allegations “fake news”.
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It stems from Jeff Sessions’ comments at his confirmation hearing in January.
He was asked: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Jeff Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”
Jeff Sessions was at the time a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, he was already a prominent member of Donald Trump’s campaign team.
The former Alabama senator also had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.
He insists he did not lie at the confirmation hearing, saying his comments were “honest and correct as I understood it at the time”.
Jeff Sessions said he had spoken with the Russian ambassador as a US senator and not as Donald Trump’s “surrogate”.
He said: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”
Jeff Sessions admitted that in his confirmation comments he “should have slowed down and said, <<but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times>>”.
He said that during his meeting with Sergei Kislyak they talked about terrorism and then “somehow the subject of Ukraine came up”.
Nancy Pelosi repeated her call for Jeff Sessions to quit. She said his “his narrow recusal and sorry attempt to explain away his perjury” were totally inadequate.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Jeff Sessions “clearly misled” the Senate and his explanation was “simply not credible”.
Although some top Republicans in the House and Senate agreed Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation, senior figures rallied behind him, resisting demands for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
For Jeff Sessions to be charged with perjury, prosecutors would have to show that he not only made false statements, but knowingly and willfully misled members of the committee about an indisputable fact.
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