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19 June 2017, 12:37 | Opal Carroll
Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to lead the probe.
But Rosenstein could end up recusing himself, too, Justice officials say, in part because he played a role in President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Comey told a Senate panel last week he believed Trump fired him to undermine the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Russian Federation probe.
Tim Maloney, a Maryland lawyer who has worked with Rosenstein, said he is going to handle the decision of whether to recuse himself in the oversight of the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation "by the book". But a department official said no one asked for the statement and Rosenstein acted on his own.
Sessions learned of the Mueller appointment at about the same time that the press was told, according to people briefed on the matter.
President Donald Trump speaks about the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scales of La.at a baseball practice, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington before the start of an event on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives. Trump had viewed Sessions' recusal as unnecessary, even though Justice Department regulations made it nearly impossible to avoid.
If Rosenstein goes, who replaces him?
"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt", the President tweeted.
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Hours later, a source close to Trump's outside legal team said Trump did not intend his tweet to be confirmation of the investigation but rather was reacting to a Washington Post story on Wednesday about the probe.
Vice President Mike Pence has also hired a private lawyer to represent his interests in the expanding probe. Comey's firing likely will be part of that probe.
But Rosenstein has privately told people at the Justice Department, as ABC News first reported, that he may need to step aside from his role supervising the special-counsel investigation, according to officials familiar with the conversations.
The tweets came shortly after Rosenstein issued his unusual statement that appeared to be warning about the accuracy of such reports.
If Trump ordered Brand to fire Mueller and she refused, the responsibility to oversee the special counsel would fall to Dana Boente, the USA attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a presidential executive order.
On Thursday night, he issued a statement lashing out at news stories sourced to anonymous officials and that he believes are causing the President and Republicans to attack the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller for alleged leaks.
"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials, ' particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch or agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated", Rosenstein said.
A Justice official said Rosenstein was motivated in part because of frustration that recent news stories have unfairly brought on a torrent of "leak" accusations against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller's team.
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