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The complex issues of the Russian Federation probe, special counsel
19 June 2017, 12:48 | Rudolph Thomas
Deputy AG: 'Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations'
The Republican National Committee denounced the Washington Post report on Mueller now targeting Trump for a potential obstruction of justice charged, declaring, "This story is nothing more than an example of even more leaks coming out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and special counsel's office in an effort to undermine the President".
And Trump's apparent reference to Rosenstein, who oversees the Russian Federation investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from it, came just hours after a statement from Rosenstein complaining about leaks in the case.
He's not afraid of the investigation - there is no investigation... there is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period.
Officials familiar with the matter describe friction on the Justice Department's fourth and fifth floors, home to the suite of offices belonging to the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, respectively, in part because of Rosenstein's handling of the Russian Federation matter. Another official disputed that Rosenstein pushed for Sessions' recusal.
If Mueller strays from the straight and narrow, Rosenstein should not hesitate to remove him and name someone else to serve as special counsel.
Sessions learned of the Mueller appointment at about the same time that the press was told, according to people briefed on the matter. Trump had viewed Sessions' recusal as unnecessary, even though Justice Department regulations made it nearly impossible to avoid.
Trump seemed to confirm that story - his White House hadn't denied it but instead condemned the leak from which it sprang - in a Friday morning tweet.
"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt", the president wrote on Twitter.
Trump blasted Mueller on Twitter on Thursday, saying the Russian Federation probe was being "led by some very bad and conflicted people", apparently referring to the special counsel.
"Frankly, I think the president should stop talking about it", Missouri Senator Roy Blunt told KMBZ, a Kansas City-area radio station.
If Trump ordered Brand to fire Mueller and she refused, the responsibility to oversee the special counsel would fall to Dana Boente, the USA attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a presidential executive order.
Trump's thinly veiled attack on Rosenstein could be a precursor either to Trump demanding that Rosenstein fire Mueller-which he would likely refuse-or Trump's firing Rosenstein himself.
If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, the task of overseeing the special counsel would fall to the Justice Department's third-highest-ranking official, Rachel Lee Brand.
The White House had confirmed that Mr Mueller was among the candidates Mr Trump interviewed to replace Mr Comey.
"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials, ' particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch of agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated", Rosenstein said.
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