Former deputy FBI director: Russia probe is not a 'witch hunt'
© Greg Nash

The No. 2 official at the FBI under ex-Director Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE defended on Sunday the appointment of his former boss as special counsel in the bureau's Russia investigation, rebutting President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE's assertion that the probe amounts to a "witch hunt."

"The focus is on the Russian influence with the Trump campaign and the administration if it's there," former FBI Deputy Director Tim MurphyTim MurphyBiden receives endorsements from three swing-district Democrats A federal abortion law might be needed Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE told radio host John Catsimatidis. "Now, that's his mandate, and I think Bob Mueller will stick to his mandate. He's not going to run down paths. It's not going to be ... a witch hunt."

His comments followed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's appointment on Wednesday of Mueller as special counsel on the FBI's probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 campaign. 

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Trump has repeatedly denied any coordination with Russia and called Mueller's appointment "a witch hunt" that "hurts our country." But Murphy rejected that claim, saying that installing Mueller as a special counsel would help the public regain faith in the FBI.

"This is a great thing for America," he said. "I know we're in New York and a line in New York would be 'Batman is back to save Gotham,' but I think in this case Batman is back to save America.

"There isn't a doubt in my mind that you were not going to influence [Mueller] on an investigation or anything. He knows what he feels is right, based on his experiences in law enforcement and the private sector and the Department of Justice ... you aren't going to sway him."

Murphy also defended FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Trump knocks Sally Yates ahead of congressional testimony MORE, who was abruptly fired by Trump earlier this month. Trump has acknowledged that he thought of the FBI's Russia investigation as part of his decision to oust Comey, and told visiting Russia officials that doing so relieved him of "great pressure." He also called Comey "crazy" and "nut job."

"Director Comey had a large, loyal following in the FBI. They love Director Comey," Murphy said. "You may have had people on the inside that disagree with the way he may have handled something, but that's common in a large organization like that."