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Deputy attorney general says Mueller probe not a ‘witch hunt’

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday said that the special counsel’s investigation is not a “witch hunt,” words often used by President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE to describe the probe into allegations of potential collusion between his campaign and Moscow. 

Rosenstein defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation amid fierce questioning from Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee concerning the ongoing probe. 

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“I don’t know exactly what the president meant by that, congressman. The special counsel’s investigation is not a witch hunt,” Rosenstein said in response to Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineBustos announces bid to become fourth-ranking Dem next year Democrat launches bid for assistant leader Hillicon Valley: Manafort to cooperate with Mueller probe | North Korea blasts US over cyber complaint | Lawmakers grill Google over China censorship | Bezos to reveal HQ2 location by year's end MORE (D-R.I.). 

Still, he stopped short of saying that his statement signaled his disagreement with the president. 

Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to describe allegations of potential collusion as a partisan “witch hunt” against him. 

“I do not know what the president meant by that, congressman, I can only answer for myself,” Rosenstein said on Wednesday.

Mueller, who has a broad mandate in his investigation, has already unveiled charges against former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.