Russia Intel Investigation Becomes Criminal Probe

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The counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion by the campaign of President Trump with Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections has become a criminal probe, several U.S. senators said after a briefing yesterday, McClatchy Newspapers reports. That revelation came after nearly the entire U.S. Senate attended a briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The briefing came a day after Rosenstein named ex-FBI director Robert Mueller to lead the probe. “The takeaway I had,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation. The biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to move forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), calling the briefing “sobering,”said, “As it became clear how little he was willing to talk about it, it also became clear how broad this investigation that Mueller is about to undertake actually is.” Rostenstein disputed early White House claims that a memo he wrote critical of Comey had been the genesis of Trump’s decision to fire the FBI head. “He did say that Comey was to be removed from office before he wrote his memo,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-MO). One question that lingered was how Mueller’s appointment and the change in the nature of the probe would affect the multiple congressional investigations underway in the matter. Graham predicted it would slow those probes. Congressional investigators “will have to be very leery of crossing into Mr. Mueller’s lane,” he said. “Mr. Mueller will tell us what we can get and what we can’t.”

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