Trump pledges hands off Russia probe, may ‘change my mind’


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling – unless he changes his mind – as a Senate panel moved to safeguard special counsel Robert Mueller from any attempt to fire him.

Trump also laced into James Comey, the FBI director he fired last year, accusing him of lying about Trump’s trip to Moscow in 2013 that has received fresh scrutiny.

The GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Mueller-protection measure just hours after Trump, in a television interview, blasted the U.S. Justice Department, which oversees the special counsel’s investigation.

“I am very disappointed in my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it’s going on, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved,” the president said in a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends.”

But then he added: “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

The Mueller legislation approved by the Senate panel may be largely symbolic, since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t bring it up for a full Senate vote. But it shows there are limits to Republican support for Trump when it comes to the president’s attacks on the special counsel’s probe.

Four Republicans joined Democrats in a 14-7 committee vote to approve the measure.

Nearly all GOP senators say Trump shouldn’t fire Mueller. And Republicans who support the legislation say it’s necessary to guard against presidential interference by giving Congress more oversight power.

Trump has increased his criticism of the Russia investigation since the FBI’s raids on the office and hotel room being used by Michael Cohen, a Trump personal attorney who is under federal criminal investigation in New York for unspecified business dealings.

Trump again called the investigation “a witch hunt” and insisted there was “no collusion” with Russia.

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