Special counsel Mueller named to probe Trump-Russia ties


President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats last week his firing of "nut job" James Comey had eased the pressure on him, even as the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation had moved into the White House, according to reports Friday that pursued the president as he began his maiden foreign trip. Comey had previously refused to acknowledge the parallel Trump investigation, and his disclosure enrages Democrats who already blamed Comey for costing Clinton the presidency. Current and former staffers probably will have to hire pricey lawyers and sit for interviews.

There was no word on what that record might entail, a question many were likely to raise in light of Trump's recent warning to Comey that he had "better hope" there were no tapes of a discussion they'd had.

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

"My priority has been to ensure thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead", he said in a statement.

The appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor comes amid a growing Democratic outcry for someone outside the US Justice Department to handle the politically charged investigation.

But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious after Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "Zero", Trump said Thursday during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Some congressional Republicans have also suggested that Mueller's appointment would lead to changes in Congress' investigation.

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Despite initially opposing appointment of an independent counsel, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development "helps assure people and the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along".

A third major story dropped on Friday afternoon, with respect to President Donald Trump and the Russian Federation investigation.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday that Mueller is "a respected public servant of the highest integrity". "Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information". "In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country".

Mueller was named to the post by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Mueller may be able to obtain a waiver from the Justice Department's ethics officers or recuse himself from investigating certain individuals, leaving those inquiries to a deputy. It was only when President George W. Bush agreed to listen to Comey and Mueller and restructure the program did resignation plans go away. He was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to provide a transcript of the White House meeting between his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump tells The Associated Press by telephone after the meeting that he "learned a lot" but declines to say whether he accepted their conclusion about Russian Federation.