Trump acknowledges he is under investigation in Russia probe

Mueller has also broadened his scope to include the scrutinizing of financial activities of Trump associates, reportedly based on hunches about possible bribery and money-laundering. After the statement, the Post updated the Kushner article so that its first sourcing reference was to "U.S. officials". But then Rosenstein made the surprise move to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russian Federation investigation, a development that people close to Sessions and Trump believe has worsened matters for everyone involved.

Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said she was "growing increasingly concerned" that Trump might attempt to fire both Mueller and Rosenstein. The official demanded anonymity because the official was not authorized to be named discussing the deliberations.

Trump did not identify "the man" but appeared to be questioning the integrity of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department's No. 2 official who appointed Mueller on May 17, supervises the probe and wrote a memo to Trump critical of Comey that preceded Comey's firing.

Gates has never before been publicly linked to the investigations into Russian interference. What is clear is that he could order the Justice Department to ax Mueller, which may result in Rosenstein's departure and would certainly intensify the uproar over the investigation.

Barak Cohen, a former Justice Department lawyer and now a defense attorney specializing in white-collar crime and investigations, said there was no requirement that the special counsel notify Trump he was under investigation, so the lack of such notice meant nothing. Rosenstein selected Mueller despite the latter's close friendship and professional ties to Comey.

Questions of conflicts of interest are typically a matter of "self-regulation", rather than Justice Department regulations, said Jonathan Turley, a public policy law expert at George Washington University.

'Witch Hunt': Trump confirms he is being investigated over Comey firing
And it was Rosenstein who appointed Robert Mueller as the special counsel to lead that investigation after Comey was sacked . Rosenstein could eventually be questioned by Mueller about his memo on Comey and what motivated Trump to ask him to write it.

Earlier this month, Rosenstein said that "if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation then, as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there's a need from me to recuse, I will". At that time, he simply claimed that the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director lied under oath. An official of Trump's transition confirmed the lawyer's internal order, which was sent Thursday.

"And ultimately, whether he believes it or not, the work's going to move forward", he said, including by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Trump, who has denied any collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation, has frequently lashed out about the allegations, which have overshadowed his administration's efforts to overhaul the healthcare system, cut taxes and boost jobs.

The Twitter attacks came as Vice President Mike Pence hired a personal lawyer to represent him in the intensifying investigation.

Donald Trump's transition team has been asked to retain records related to five former campaign associates, including former chairman Paul Manafort. The memo asks for preservation of electronic communications and data, telephone logs, audio recordings, videos, calendars and other items. He has already been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael D. Shear, Charlie Savage, Maggie Haberman, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Adam Goldman, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo and Nick Confessore of The New York Times; by Julie Pace, Jonathan Lemire, Steve Braun, Sadie Gurman, Eric Tucker, Mary Clare Jalonick and Vivian Salama of The Associated Press; and by Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post.

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