US President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. . Picture: REUTERS
US President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. . Picture: REUTERS

Washington — President Donald Trump has decried the appointment of a special counsel to lead the Russia investigation as "the single greatest witch-hunt" in US history, hours after he said he looked forward to a thorough investigation.

On Wednesday, in the face of rising pressure from Capitol Hill, the justice department named former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Trump said in a statement on Wednesday night "a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".

In a pair of Twitter posts on Thursday morning, Trump made clear he was unhappy with the latest development.

"With all of the illegal acts  that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!" Trump wrote, misspelling the word "counsel" as he referred to former president Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"This is the single greatest witch-hunt of a politician in American history!"

The comments mirrored a speech by Trump on Wednesday, before Mueller’s appointment was announced, in which he said no politician in history "has been treated worse or more unfairly".

The appointment of a special counsel to take over the Russia investigation was widely praised by Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Charlie Dent, a Republican in the House of Representatives, said there was no question the Russians meddled in the election. The goal of the special counsel probe, he said, was to determine whether there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia to do so.

"I believe that’s why we’re having this investigation — to find out if, in fact, there was collusion. I certainly hope there wasn’t any but if there is there are going to be very serious consequences," Dent told CNN.

Moments before Trump weighed in on Twitter, Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator, welcomed the investigation and said it was important to get the facts. "I am not on a witch-hunt. I am on a fact-finding mission," he said on CNN.

Russia has denied interfering in the election campaign and Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

Reuters

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