Donald Trump confirms he is under investigation for obstruction of justice
Vice president Pence hires lawyer in connection with FBI’s investigation into Russian links
US president Donald Trump has sent angry tweets this week over a report that Robert Mueller was looking into whether the president obstructed justice. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters
US president Donald Trump appeared to confirm he is under investigation for obstruction of justice, as he lashed out at what he described as a “witch hunt” against him. In a series of tweets on Friday morning the president confirmed that he was being investigated for firing James Comey on May 9th.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” he said.
Mr Trump, who is due to give a speech in Miami on Friday where he is expected to announce a shift in US policy towards Cuba, also boasted about his deployment of social media, despite warnings by legal experts that his tweets may be used against him in the ongoing investigation.
“The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media – over 100 million people! I can go around them,” he tweeted.
The latest outburst by Mr Trump followed news that vice president Mike Pence has hired a lawyer in connection with the FBI’s investigation. Mr Pence hired criminal lawyer Richard Cullen as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation intensifies. Though Mr Pence was not involved in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, he may be called as a witness in the investigation into links between the Trump campaign team and Russia.
The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media - over 100 million people! I can go around them— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my "collusion with the Russians," nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
The Washington Post reported this week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was also investigating the president for possible obstruction of justice, citing unnamed sources, a development that Mr Trump appeared to confirm in his Friday morning tweet.
Meanwhile there were unconfirmed reports that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who has taken charge of the Russian investigation since attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself, could step aside from the investigation.
ABC News reported that Mr Rosenstein has told colleagues privately that he may have to step aside from the investigation. Mr Rosenstein wrote a memo criticising former FBI chief James Comey’s handling of the email server scandal that was initially used by the White House to justify the firing of Mr Comey. The US president later said that the decision was taken due to “that Russian thing.”
While Mr Rosenstein appointed Mr Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the investigation, it is possible that he could be called as a witness as part of the investigation.
In an unusual move, Mr Rosenstein issued a statement on Thursday urging caution about reports based on “unnamed sources”.
“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true and stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’” Mr Rosenstein said. “Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”
The Washington Post this week reported, not only that the president is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice, but also that the FBI inquiry is examining the business and financial dealings of the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Both stories cited unnamed sources.