Greatest witch hunt rant after probe chief namedTop News | 19 May 2017
US President Donald Trump has blasted the probe into whether his team colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 election in his favor as the "greatest witch hunt" in US history.
His comment on Twitter came after former FBI chief Robert Mueller - a lawman with deep bipartisan respect - was appointed special counsel with sweeping powers to head the probe.
"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" Trump wrote. Also via Twitter, Trump accused former president Barack Obama and his 2016 rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, of unspecified "illegal acts."
He wrote: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!"
Trump has denied any links to Moscow, but the appointment of a special counsel by the Justice Department dramatically raises the stakes in a crisis threatening to paralyze his presidency.
The Republican leader, who has struggled to shake off suspicions that
Russia helped put him in the White House, has been accused of seeking to block the investigation by firing FBI chief James Comey.
Mueller's appointment has come as Trump fends off reports he shared US secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office, and had asked Comey to drop his investigation into former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel's office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official.
Mueller's broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." That would surely include Trump's firing last week of Comey.
During a commencement address on Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump complained bitterly about criticism he's faced.
"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly," he said. "You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams I guess that's why we won. Adversity makes you stronger. Don't give in, don't back down And the more righteous your fight, the more opposition that you will face."
Russia's Vladimir Putin called the dramatic charges swirling around Trump evidence of "political schizophrenia spreading in the US."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS