Trump says he did not ask Comey to end investigation

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Mr Trump reacted swiftly, without directly commenting on Mr Mueller's appointment.

At the time Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, only five Senate Republicans had publicly said they were open to the idea of a more independent investigation than what Congress and the FBI were undertaking. "When I made that decision I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such awful thing about Director Comey".

As the world learned that Trump suddenly fired his FBI director, as the world learned the president told state secrets to the Russians, as the world learned that the fired FBI director said the president asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into one of the president's allies, the vast majority of Republicans in Congress didn't budge.

"We need the facts", Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

"If the White House is looking for this global trip to turn the page, then it really needs to come off well without any balls dropped or serious mistakes", said the strategist, who requested anonymity. The counsel is not required to consult with or keep informed the attorney general or deputy attorney generals on the course of the probe.

Since the White House had ignored the department's legal advice, Comey, Mueller and several other officials made plans to resign.

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Some doubt whether Trump, a businessman-turned politician who never held elective office before becoming president in January, is ready for a smooth presidential debut overseas.

President Donald Trump has lashed out at his critics claiming no politician in history has been treated worse than him.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a request documented in a memo written by the former FBI director.

Mr Trump's alleged pressure on Mr Comey - denied by the White House - has exposed the president to accusations of obstructing justice.

During his tenure as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from 2001 to 2013, he served both Republican and Democratic administrations, overseeing a shake-up of a huge bureaucracy blamed for missing evidence that could have prevented the September 11, 2001 attacks, and earning high respect from both parties.

"The media thinks it's about Trump, and it's not", said Steve Deace, an Iowa-based commentator for Conservative Review and a former talk-radio host who has been critical of Trump.

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