Trump would not intervene if Whitaker moves to curtail Mueller probe
By Amanda Becker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said in an interview aired on Sunday he would not intervene if Matthew Whitaker, his acting U.S. attorney general, moved to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said in an interview aired on Sunday he would not intervene if Matthew Whitaker, his acting U.S. attorney general, moved to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In an interview with the "Fox News Sunday" program taped on Friday, Trump also said he probably would not agree to a sit-down interview with Mueller, who also is investigating whether the Republican president's campaign conspired with Moscow and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.
Whitaker took over supervision of Mueller's investigation on Nov. 7 after Trump appointed him as the chief U.S. law enforcement official to replace Jeff Sessions, who the president ousted. Whitaker, who Democrats have called a Trump "political lackey," in the past criticized the scope of the Mueller probe and brought up the possibility of undermining it by slashing Mueller's funding.
Trump, in the interview, said he was unaware of Whitaker's past statements about Mueller's probe and that he would "not get involved" if Whitaker moved to curtail it.
"It's going to be up to him," Trump said told "Fox News Sunday" interviewer Chris Wallace. "I think he's very well aware politically. I think he's astute politically. ... He's going to do what's right."
Trump has denied any collusion with Moscow and has called the Mueller investigation a "witch hunt." Russia also has denied collusion.
"There is no collusion, he happened to be right," Trump said, referring to one of Whitaker's previous statements.
Mueller has brought charges against a series of former Trump aides, including his former campaign chairman and his former national security adviser, as well as a number of Russian individuals and entities. Congressional critics have voiced concern that Whitaker could hamper or even fire Mueller.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators renewed a push last week for legislation to protect the special counsel, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, opposes it. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who will likely lead the Senate panel overseeing the Justice Department next year, met with Whitaker last week and expressed confidence Russia probe would continue.
'THE RULE OF LAW'
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Democrats will not stand for any effort by Whitaker to curb Mueller's probe.
"We will expose any involvement he has in it," Schiff, referring to Whitaker, told ABC's "This Week" program," accusing Trump of appointing Whitaker in order to interfere with the investigation. "This is an attack on the rule of law."
Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday he had "very easily" completed his written answers for Mueller's investigation. In his "Fox News Sunday" comments, he signaled he had no plans to do a face-to-face interview with Mueller's team.
Trump and his lawyers had been in negotiations with Mueller's team for months over how the president would be questioned as part of the investigation. Wallace asked Trump whether it was his final position that he would not do a sit-down interview and would not give written responses to questions relating to obstruction of justice.
"I think we've wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we're finished," Trump said, though he added "I can change my mind."
"We gave very, very complete answers to a lot of questions that I shouldn't have even been asked, and I think that should solve the problem," Trump added.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Will Dunham)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.