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.”
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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.
Jeff Sessions announces he will appear before a Senate panel in response to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.
The US Attorney General will appear before the Senate intelligence committee on June 13, he announced in a letter.
Jeff Sessions said the decision had been made “in light of Mr. Comey’s recent testimony”.
James Comey told the panel this week that he had asked Jeff Sessions to “prevent any future direct communication between the president and me”.
The testimony made headlines around the world, as it was the first time James Comey had publicly given his side of the apparent fall-out between himself and President Donald Trump in the run-up to his being fired in May.
In his letter on June 10, Jeff Sessions said: “It is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum.”
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Jeff Sessions had been due to appear before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on June 6. He said in the letter deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein would attend instead.
James Comey told the Senate there were a “variety of reasons” why Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the investigation of Russia’s alleged interference would be problematic.
However, he said he was unable to speak about them in an open session of the hearing.
James Comey also told the Senate that the Trump administration’s comments about him and the FBI were “lies plain and simple”.
He said he was “confused” by the “shifting explanations” for his sacking, which came as he led an inquiry into any links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
President Trump later said he never sought to impede the inquiry, and accused James Comey of saying some things that “just weren’t true”.
The president has said he is “100%” willing to speak under oath about his conversations, denying he asked for James Comey’s loyalty or for the inquiry into former White House aide Michael Flynn to be dropped.
President Trump went on to say he was considering releasing further information about possible recordings of the conversations between himself and James Comey.
Shortly after the press conference, leaders of the House intelligence committee said they had asked the White House whether there were any such tapes.
The House panel requested that if the recordings existed, they should be submitted by June 23.
His links to Russia are being scrutinized by the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as part of wider investigations into claims Russia sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, and into contacts between Russia and members of President Trump’s campaign team.
Robert Kelner said in a statement that his client “has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit”.
He said he would not comment on his discussions with congressional panels conducting the investigation.
The lawyer said the media was awash with “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo”.
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“No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution,” Robert Kelner said.
Three other former Trump aides, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and former advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, have offered to testify without requesting immunity.
The Senate Intelligence Committee opened its hearing on March 30 with one member saying Moscow had sought to “hijack” the US election.
Democrat Mark Warner said Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation, including fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“This Russian ‘propaganda on steroids’ was designed to poison the national conversation in America,” he said.
Republican panel chairman Richard Burr warned: “We are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary.”
Richard Burr also confirmed there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn, but his appearance had not been confirmed.
Donald Trump regularly dismisses the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.
Vladimir Putin did so again on March 30 at an Arctic forum, describing them as “nonsense” and “irresponsible”.
Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, initially denied having discussed US sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.
However, he stood down after details of his phone call emerged, along with reports that the Department of Justice had warned the White House about Michael Flynn misleading officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
At last summer’s GOP convention, Michael Flynn led chants of “lock her up” aimed at Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.
In September, Michael Flynn said in a TV interview that it was unacceptable that some of the Democratic candidate’s aides had been granted immunity from prosecution.
“When you get given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime,” Michael Flynn told NBC News.
In the hearing’s opening remarks chairman Republican Richard Burr said “we are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary”.
Ranking Democrat Mark Warner said “Russia sought to hijack our democratic process” by employing a disinformation campaign on social media, which he describes as “Russian propaganda on steroids”.
Mark Warner said March 30 session would examine how Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation in the US, including the possible generation of fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“We are in a whole new realm around cyber that provides opportunity for huge, huge threats to our basic democracy,” he said.
“You are seeing it right now.”
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Former NSA director Keith Alexander will be one of those testifying on March 30.
Jared Kushner, who is married to President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House has said, and is scheduled to appear next week.
Committee chairman Richard Burr said the panel would not shy away from the truth.
“This investigation’s scope will go wherever the intelligence leads,” he said.
Richard Burr said that there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn – who was sacked by President Trump as national security adviser for misleading the vice-president over his contacts with the Russian ambassador – but his appearance is not confirmed.
The Trump presidency has been unable to shake off allegations that members of its team colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign. The president has regularly dismissed the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.
Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, has apologized for not informing Democratic colleagues before going public with allegations about surveillance of President Donald Trump’s team.
He apologized privately and vowed to work with them on the issue, a committee aide said.
Democrats were furious that Devin Nunes went straight to the White House.
They questioned whether the committee’s inquiry into Russia’s alleged role in the election can proceed objectively.
However, when Donald Trump was asked if he now felt vindicated for his accusations against his predecessor, he answered: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found.”
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The US intelligence agencies regularly, and legally, monitor foreigners, and the communication of Americans is often incidentally collected. They are not usually named but can be if the context of the intelligence requires it.
Devin Nunes said the material he had seen “bothered” him and that the unmasking of individuals, and the content of some of the material gathered, was “inappropriate”.
Of his decision to go public and brief President Trump, Devin Nunes said: “It was a judgment call on my part.
“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong decision.”
A Republican intelligence committee aide told Reuters: “He apologized to the minority on the committee for going public and to the [White House] with his announcement before sharing the information with the minority. He pledged to work with them on this issue.”
Devin Nunes had also stressed that the information in the intercepts he had seen was not linked to an FBI investigation into alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials during the election campaign.
However, Democrats said Devin Nunes’ actions could scupper the House panel’s investigation.
Democrat Jackie Speier, who serves on the committee, said: “I think over the next few days we are going to assess whether or not we feel confident that [Devin Nunes] can continue in that role.”
Democrat Adam Schiff said: “A credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.”
Devin Nunes has refused to reveal who passed him the information.
When asked whether it was the White House itself, he said he was “not going to ever reveal sources”.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “I don’t know why he would come up to the president to brief him on something we had briefed him on.”
Devin Nunes’ disclosure came two days after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the organization was investigating alleged links between the Trump team and Russian officials.
Adam Schiff on Wednesday told MSNBC he believed there was evidence “that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation” about the links.
FBI director James Comey and NSA chief Admiral Mike Rogers are set to testify before Congress about possible links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The two intelligence chiefs will also address Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by President Barack Obama.
James Comey and Mike Rogers will give evidence at a rare open hearing of the congressional intelligence committee.
President Trump has called the investigation a “total witch hunt”.
Russia denies attempting to influence the US presidential election.
Two months ago, US intelligence agencies said Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing ones in order to help Donald Trump defeat rival Hillary Clinton.
However, Adam Schiff said the material he had seen offers circumstantial evidence that US citizens collaborated with Russians to influence the vote.
He said: “There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception.
“There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”
Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.
Michael Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.
He allegedly discussed US sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.
Jeff Sessions said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Sergei Kislyak during the campaign.
He denied any wrongdoing, but removed himself from an FBI inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
March 20 hearing is also expected to address Donald Trump’s claims that the Obama administration wiretapped his phone at Trump Tower in New York during the campaign.
President Trump has provided no evidence, and senior Republican and Democratic officials have dismissed the idea. Barack Obama’s spokesman dismissed the claims.
Devin Nunes told Fox News on March 19 that a review of justice department documents provided on March 17 indicated there was no such wiretap.
Several Republicans have said President Trump should apologize if he cannot substantiate his claims.
Observers say both allegations have diverted attention from the Trump administration’s other policies and progress with political appointments.
Critics say Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama wiretapped him has damaged the US credibility, and relations with its allies.
Last week, President Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer repeated claims by a Fox News analyst that the UK’s GCHQ spy agency had helped Barack Obama wiretap Donald Trump.
The claims angered the UK government, and GCHQ rejected the allegations as “utterly ridiculous”.
Meanwhile, President Trump and some Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks, including the leak that revealed details of Michael Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian ambassador.
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.