Trump says special counsel ‘divides the country’

Trump will take his first foreign trip as President on Friday

President Trump at a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House, May 18, 2017 (CBSN)
President Trump at a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House, May 18, 2017 (CBSN)

WASHINGTON (AP) –  President Donald Trump says that the appointment of a special counsel for the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia “divides the country.”

Trump is reacting to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the investigation after he fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump said Thursday that he respects “the entire thing” but said that he personally has no ties to Russia.

He reiterated his earlier comments that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Trump says, “we want to bring this country of ours together.”

Trump was speaking in a joint press conference with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos.

The press conference comes one day after Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel into the investigation of possible Russia collusion with the Trump campaign, and one day before Trump will take his first foreign trip as President of the United States.

Deputy AG meets with senators

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein learned the day before President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey that the law enforcement chief was going to be sacked.

That’s the word from Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

Durbin says Rosenstein told senators at a closed briefing Thursday that he “learned of the president’s decision to fire him (Comey) and then he wrote his memo with his rationale.” Durbin said Rosenstein learned on May 8.

He said Rosenstein didn’t tell lawmakers who told him to write the memo with the rationale for ousting Comey.

Durbin said there was frustration among some senators in the briefing because Rosenstein did not want to answer all their questions. He said Rosenstein’s reason was that he didn’t want to infringe on special counsel Robert Mueller.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told senators that he knew FBI Director James Comey was going to be fired even before he wrote a memo that provided a basis for Comey’s dismissal.

That’s according to Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. She addressed reporters after a closed-door meeting where Rosenstein briefed senators.

The White House pointed to Rosenstein’s memo last week as justification for Trump’s abrupt decision to dismiss Comey. In the memo Rosenstein criticized Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

But Trump himself has already said that he was going to fire Comey regardless — and the revelation from McCaskill appeared to bolster that version of events.

McCaskill said: “He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo.”

Melania travels with the President 

Melania Trump is accompanying President Donald Trump on his inaugural overseas trip, a four-country, five-stop tour that begins Friday. The Trumps will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium, and the trip includes an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The first lady is joining the president for some events, but will participate in other events on her own.

The White House isn’t releasing a comprehensive itinerary for Mrs. Trump, citing security concerns.

Mrs. Trump, a native of the central European nation of Slovenia, says she’ll spend time at her events speaking with women and children.

The Trumps are scheduled to return to Washington on May 27.