Mueller to lead investigation into Russia links to US polls

Dhaka,  Sat,  24 June 2017
Published : 18 May 2017, 21:46:03
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Mueller to lead investigation into Russia links to US polls

Putin offers to release Trump-Lavrov meeting transcript
NEW YORK, May 18 (BBC/Al Jazeera): A former FBI boss has been named special counsel to oversee an inquiry into Russia's alleged meddling in the election and any Trump campaign ties.

In naming Robert Mueller, the deputy attorney general said it was in the public interest to have an outsider.

The appointment was widely endorsed by politicians from both sides.

Calls for a special investigation had mounted since President Donald Trump fired the most recent FBI director, James Comey, last week.

The announcement apparently took the White House by surprise, with Mr Trump only being informed of it after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had signed the order.

The FBI and Congress are looking into potential links between Mr Trump's campaign team and Russia. Mr Mueller will take over the FBI investigation.

US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip the election in favour of Mr Trump.

Meanwhile the New York Times reports that Trump aide Michael Flynn had told his transition team in early January - earlier than was previously thought - that he was under investigation for working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the election campaign.

Mr Trump appointed Mr Flynn as his national security adviser weeks later despite the warning, but he was sacked after just 24 days.

Mr Flynn was sacked for misleading the vice-president about his contacts with Russian officials.

In his statement announcing Mr Mueller's appointment, Mr Rosenstein said: "The public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."

Mr Mueller, who will have wide-ranging powers, said simply: "I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability."

Another report adds: The Russian president's comments on Wednesday were the first since accusations surfaced that the US president had shared secrets while meeting Lavrov at the White House.

The Washington Post newspaper has reported that Trump shared intelligence with Lavrov regarding an ISIL threat related to the use of laptop computers on aeroplanes.

The controversy comes amid existing investigations into whether Trump's aides colluded with Russia during the election campaign.

Putin said he was pleased with Lavrov's visit to the US capital last week but mocked the idea that Trump had shared secrets during the meeting on May 10, calling the allegations "political schizophrenia" and saying people spreading them are either "dumb" or "corrupt".

"We can see that political schizophrenia is developing in the United States," Putin said after talks with Paolo Gentiloni, Italian prime minister, in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday.

"I cannot otherwise explain the accusations of the president that he handed Lavrov some sort of secrets."

"If the US administration finds it possible, we are ready to provide a recording of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump to the US Congress and Senate."

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said: "It's basically power projecting from Putin.

"He is projecting it to Donald Trump, the US Congress and the wider political establishment there. Vladimir Putin is having a lot of fun at the moment."

Putin used the Russian word for audio recording at the press conference, but Yuri Ushakov, his foreign policy aide, said that "audio is not made" at meetings like the one at the Oval Office.
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