Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy
Trump casts doubt on legality of special counsel Mueller
President Trump on Friday night renewed doubts about the security of the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election by musing in a tweet that the special counsel "was established based on an illegal act."
"James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council? Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?" he tweeted late Friday evening.
Trump is referring to the former FBI director who the president fired last year and gave to a friend at least one and possibly four memos that were based on notes of his interaction with the president. The Justice Department is investigating whether the memos were classified.
Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University, then gave the contents of some of the memos to a reporter at The New York Times last May.
Comey has said he intended to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigation, which he was leading, due to his concerns about Trump's actions.
Comey has said the memo was unclassified, but Trump maintains that the act of leaking the memo was illegal.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to the job last May, saying "public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence."
Trump has long railed against the Russia investigation, calling it a "hoax" and a "witch hunt," as well as indicating he wants it to be over quickly. Democrats have at times feared that Trump could fire Mueller, but Trump recently noted that despite speculation over the past few months, Mueller - and Rosenstein, the official who appointed him - are "still here."
It appears likely that Trump in his latest tweet was responding to the Justice Department's inspector general probe into whether Comey's memos were classified, but the tweet is likely to raise concerns again that Trump is looking for a reason to get rid of Mueller.