Senators: Rosenstein knew of Comey firing before memo

"That's what I'm proud of, and that's what we want to focus our energy on", he said, asserting that the investigations are needlessly holding back progress.

"So I think the biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to proceed forward with the idea of a criminal investigation, versus the counterintelligence investigation". Rosenstein, however, said he was not pressured to prepare the document, Durbin said. Now, Republican Senator Marco Rubio was asked that same question. Trump later said he had already chose to dismiss him and was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing".

The McCaskill-Durbin claims are significant because White House communications officials had originally said Trump fired Comey on the basis of Rosenstein's memo. He made the same comments to reporters at the White House alongside Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, again insisting there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

"I'm sure he's going to try to say it's a partisan effort but I don't think Mueller's going to be viewed as a partisan guy", said Sen.

It has been anything but.

The bipartisan consensus afterward is that the Trump-Russia investigation has taken on a new level of seriousness.

Lawmakers of both parties have sought to question Mr Trump's firing last week of FBI Director James Comey, which was followed by news that Trump had shared secrets with the Russians and tried to stop Comey from investigating former presidential adviser Michael Flynn.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives still have committees conducting their own probes into whether Trump campaign advisers conspired with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 United States presidential election.

Rosenstein briefed the Senate for 90 minutes Thursday, a meeting Democrats demanded after the release of his memo.

Trump denies asking Comey to end Flynn investigation
Later, though, Trump told NBC News that he would have fired Comey "regardless" and was thinking of the "Russia thing" when he did so.

Analysis: "You're fired" may backfire.

Some Democrats were and still are convinced that the president forced Rosenstein to write the memo which was at one point used by the White House as justification for Comey's dismissal.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed" he said, having misspelled counsel in a previous tweet which was quickly deleted. Richard Burr, R-N.C., indicated Thursday morning that former National Security Director Michael Flynn had chosen not to comply with a subpoena issued for documents related to the Russian Federation probe.

"He appointed Mueller because he was cognizant enough to understand whether or not he thought he could be fair in the investigation was irrelevant", said Steven Silverman, a Baltimore attorney who has known Rosenstein for years.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said the appointment a good first step paired with the ongoing congressional oversight. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared outside of the meeting.

Among the few people who openly expressed their disapproval was Trump himself.

But Mueller could nix such an appearance, wanting to keep Comey's testimony out of the public eye until the special counsel's work is done.

Graham said that the nature of Mueller's investigation has hurt the Senate's ability to call witnesses in their counter-intelligence probe. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary committee's senior member, said Congress should press on.

Though many believe the special counsel will conduct a proper probe, some say there's still a need for more outside review. "I'm not sure he addressed that with the level of clarity most people wanted", Republican Sen.

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