WASHINGTON, D.C.: US President Donald Trump announced on Friday (Saturday in Manila) he is under investigation in connection with a probe into alleged Russian election meddling that is gnawing away at his administration—and gathering pace.
The Republican leader also lashed out at the Justice Department’s number two, the man tasked with organizing the probe.
The furious early morning barrage of tweets—his second in as many days—came as the special counsel investigating Russia’s influence over his election pieced together a high-caliber legal team and readied to begin interviews.
Trump is accused of firing FBI director James Comey over his refusal to steer the Russia investigation away from former national security advisor and Trump ally Mike Flynn.
The US president has denied trying to influence the investigation, but has acknowledged in an interview that Russia was on his mind when he dismissed Comey.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt” he tweeted from the White House shortly before a day trip to Miami.
That appeared to be the first public confirmation that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice—and a digital salvo trained at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo criticizing Comey.
A source on Trump’s legal team attempted to clarify the missive, claiming he was reacting to media reports about the investigation rather than offering public confirmation.
Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller—a respected former FBI director—has sought to beef up his investigatory firepower.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, told Agence France-Presse he now has “13 attorneys on board, with several more in the pipeline.”
That will only add to a sense of foreboding that pervades the White House, from the crammed collective workspaces of junior officials all the way to the Oval Office.
The widened Russia probe could have far-reaching repercussions for Trump’s presidency, transforming his closest aides into witnesses and sucking even more political oxygen out of the West Wing.
Trump was set to escape the Washington pressure cooker on Saturday. Accompanied by First Lady Melania, he will make his first trip to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.