President Donald Trump congratulates US Coast Guard Academy graduate Miranda Elise Brumbaugh during a graduation ceremony in New London, Connecticut. (AP)
Washington, May 18: President Trump lashed out today at his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and his former campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, complaining that what he called "illegal acts" committed during their time in office never led to the appointment of a special counsel. He complained that he was the target of a witch hunt.
The morning after Trump's justice department named Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director, to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Trump sent out a Twitter message making his case.
"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed," the message said, misspelling counsel.
Moments later, Trump added, "This is the greatest single witch hunt of a politician in American history!"
The posts, shortly before 8am (local time), were a stark contrast to his muted reaction to the announcement of Mueller's appointment last evening.
In a statement released by the White House, the President said, "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly."
How Trump should respond to the appointment was the subject of brief, but lively debate in the Oval Office, several senior officials said, with most of the President's aides counselling a conciliatory tone.
Trump often takes his most combative stances in early morning Twitter posts.
The President is correct in his observation about the rarity of a special counsel, though his references to the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration may not bolster his case. There were multiple congressional investigations of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the role played by Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, and Obama.
Michael T. Flynn told President Trump's transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two persons familiar with the case.
Despite this warning, which came about a month after the justice department notified Flynn of the inquiry, Trump made Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Flynn access to the President and nearly every secret held by US agencies.
NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE