The Justice Department’s look at Russian meddling in the presidential election has turned from a counterintelligence investigation into a criminal probe, leading senators said Thursday as they emerged from a secret briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Addressing lawmakers a day after he appointed a special counsel to head the investigation, Mr. Rosenstein also confirmed that he knew President Trump was going to fire FBI Director James B. Comey even before the president tasked the deputy attorney general with writing a memo justifying the ouster.
Mr. Rosenstein said he has given the special counsel, Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, full independence to pursue his probe and will ensure the investigation has the resources it needs as it looks into Trump campaign aides’ alleged dealings with Russian operatives.
The shift likely will feed the growing frustration of the White House. President Trump again denounced the investigation as a “witch hunt” on Thursday, a day after Mr. Mueller was tapped to head the investigation.
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