Trump suggests Republicans 'finally take control' of Russia probe

President Trump

WASHINGTON – President Trump assailed the Russia investigation Wednesday as a distraction, a waste of time and a "witch hunt" – and appeared to call on congressional Republicans to do something about it.

"The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues," Trump tweeted. "There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, & yet on and on it goes." 

While Trump suggested that congressional Republicans act more forcefully, he didn't say how. "Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control!" Trump said.

Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, are leading three separate congressional investigations into Russia's interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates. 

Trump also slammed California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, for releasing the testimony from the head of a political research firm that compiled a now-infamous dossier alleging ties between then-candidate Donald Trump and the Kremlin. 

"The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace," Trump tweeted. "Must have tough Primary!" 

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On Tuesday, Feinstein made public the transcript of a 10-hour interview with Judiciary Committee investigators and Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson.

In that testimony, Simpson said the former British intelligence who authored the dossier was so concerned about discovering Russia's possible attempts to blackmail Trump that he took his findings to the FBI. At the time, the dossier was being funded by a lawyer for Hillary Clinton's campaign, after initial work on the project funded by a Republican donor stopped. 

Christopher Steele, the British agent, later provided a “full debriefing” of his findings to a top FBI official in September 2016 in Rome. There, he learned that the FBI had already opened an investigation of possible coordination based on other intelligence from a separate source. That source is believed to be a Australian diplomat who had passed on information provided by former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, now leading the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

"The American people deserve the opportunity," Feinstein said, to learn more about the explosive document that Trump and Republican lawmakers have disparaged as fiction. 

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice," Feinstein said. "The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public."

Steele drew upon a range of sources, including figures linked to Russian intelligence, to compile the dossier last year. It was based on raw intelligence gathered by Steele on a wide-range of issues involving Trump, from allegations of shady financial deals with Russians to salacious allegations related to a Trump visit to Moscow. 

While denying collusion with Russia, Trump's tweets did not mention another aspect of an investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: Claims the president sought to obstruct of justice in the Russia investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey in May.

Trump and aides said Democrats and other critics are using Russia as excuse for Hillary Clinton's loss in the 2016 election, and unfairly trying to tie the president to Russians who hacked Democratic emails and promoted "fake news" about Clinton. 

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