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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Trump denounces Russia investigation 'witch hunt' as possible charges loom

WASHINGTON – Republicans and Democrats waited anxiously Sunday for details about potential charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Just two days after reports that a grand jury approved the first charges in the federal investigation, President Trump appeared ready for the other shoe to drop, taking to Twitter to denounce the investigation, Democrats, and his election opponent Hillary Clinton. 

Trump said Republicans were angry that investigators were focusing on "phony Trump/Russia 'collusion,' which doesn't exist" rather than the Clinton campaign's involvement with a "Fake Dossier" on Trump and other issues. 
The Democrats, he continued, "are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R's are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!" 
It was unclear if Trump was pleading with the Justice Department, congressional investigators, the media or his 41 million Twitter followers to take action. 
Several media organizations late Friday reported that at least one charge in the federal probe into Russia could come as soon as Monday – though it remains unclear who would be charged or with that. CNN was first to report that charges sealed under orders from a federal judge could become public Monday. 
Among those who have been under investigation are former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, whose Virginia home was raided by the FBI in July. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment on Friday.

Mueller has used grand juries in Virginia and Washington, D.C. to advance a wide-ranging inquiry into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the election. He took over the probe after Trump in May fired FBI Director James Comey, who started it in July 2016.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said any leaks from the special counsel's office regarding the grand jury could be a criminal violation.
“We’ve got to make sure that the grand jury process remains confidential, remains secret, so that the special counsel can work effectively,” Christie said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, agreed.

“It is kind of ironic that the people in charge of investigating the law and executing the law would violate the law,” Gowdy said on "Fox News Sunday."
"Make no mistake, disclosing grand jury material is a violation of the law," he continued. 
Mueller is also investigating possible obstruction of justice.

Trump has said the Russia investigation was on his mind when he made the decision to fire Comey, and the former FBI director has publicly testified that the president pressed him to drop the probe into Flynn. The former national security adviser was fired after misleading Vice President Pence about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office. 

Preet Bharara, the Manhattan federal prosecutor Trump fired in March, said people should watch not only what Mueller does this week – but how Trump responds.

Republicans in Congress also appeared worried Sunday that Mueller's investigation could detract from their plans to cut taxes and advance the party's stalled agenda.
"We've got a short window of time to deliver on tax reform," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a frequent critic of the president, said on CBS' "Face the Nation." Any news this week on Trump-Russia indictments "obviously ... will take up some space."

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