Donald Trump, back on Twitter, complains of ‘witch hunt’
US president claims ‘no politician in history’ has been treated more unfairly
President Trump lashed out on Thursday at his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and his former campaign opponent Hillary Clinton, complaining that “illegal acts” during their time in office never led to the appointment of a special counsel. He complained that he was the target of a witch hunt.
The morning after Mr Trump’s justice department named the former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the president sent out a Twitter message making his case.
“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed,” the tweet said, misspelling counsel.
Moments later Mr Trump added, “This is the greatest single witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
The president is right about the rarity of a special counsel, although his references to the Clinton campaign and Obama administration may not bolster his case. There were multiple congressional investigations of the attacks in Benghazi, in Libya, and the roles played by Mrs Clinton, as secretary of state, and Mr Obama.
Mr Trump’s tweets, shortly before 8am Washington, DC, time, were a stark contrast to his muted reaction to the announcement of Mr Mueller’s appointment on Wednesday evening. In a statement released by the White House the president said, “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
Mr Mueller was appointed by the United States’ deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who said that public interest required him to put the investigation under the authority of a person who exercises “a degree of independence from the normal chain of command”.
Mr Mueller’s appointment was announced after an extraordinary 24 hours that saw markets fall across the world over concerns about instability in the world’s largest economy, and growing calls from Democrats for the US president to be impeached over claims he pressed the former FBI chief James Comey to halt an investigation into the former national-security adviser Mike Flynn.
In fiery comments delivered in a speech in Connecticut that recalled the rhetoric of his presidential campaign, Mr Trump said: “You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”
His comments came hours after the most senior Republican in Congress appeared to back the president, keeping the possibility of impeachment at bay, for now at least. Asked if he had confidence in the president, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, replied “I do,” as he warned against “rushing to judgment” over the latest Trump controversy.
Mr Ryan said that there were “some people out there who want to harm the president,” also suggesting that Mr Comey had questions to answer about his failure to inform authorities sooner about his concerns.
While most Republicans on Capitol Hill maintained qualified support for Mr Trump in the wake of the latest scandal, there were demands from senior congressional Republicans for the FBI to hand over relevant documents and tapes to committees investigating Russian interference in the election. Figures from both parties have also urged Mr Comey to testify publicly.
Additional reporting: New York Times