Trump says Republican memo vindicates him in Russia probe

Donald Trump

PALM BEACH, Fla (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that a controversial memo attacking federal law enforcement written by congressional Republicans vindicates him in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump’s fervent embrace of the memo raised again the prospect that he may use it as justification to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting the investigation, or Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.

Tweeting from his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump said the memo “totally vindicates” him but added “the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their (sic) was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction.” He called the investigation “an American disgrace.”

The White House told Reuters on Friday there would be no changes at the Justice Department as a result of the memo’s conclusions.

The memo, written by Republicans on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee chaired by Devin Nunes, argues that the federal investigation of potential collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia was a product of political bias against Trump at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department.

Trump approved the release of the formerly classified memo without redactions, despite objections from the FBI in a move that deepened tension between the White House and senior law enforcement that has existed since Trump first took office.

Democrats contend the four-page memo mischaracterises highly sensitive classified information and was intended to undermine the Mueller criminal probe that was launched in May 2017 as an outgrowth an earlier FBI investigation.

Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Trump’s decision to allow the release of the memo was “part of a coordinated propaganda effort to discredit, disable and defeat the Russia investigation.”

Some Republicans also were critical of the memo’s release. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio and a former rival of Trump’s for the presidential nomination, released a statement on Saturday calling it “a disservice to our country.”

Asked by reporters on Friday whether the memo made him more likely to fire Rosenstein or whether he had confidence in him, Trump replied, “You figure it out.”

Dismissing Rosenstein or Mueller would trigger a political firestorm much like the sacking of FBI Director James Comey by Trump last year.

Mueller also is examining whether Trump has obstructed of justice in trying to thwart the Russia investigation.

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