WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said Thursday that an investigation of his campaign’s possible ties to Russia is a “witch hunt” and should be quickly brought to a close, but the appointment of a special counsel and recent grand jury subpoenas suggest a federal criminal probe is expanding to include other suspicious activity and countries.
“We look forward to getting this whole situation behind us,” said Mr. Trump, denying that he had urged James Comey, the recently fired director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to ease off an investigation of his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
But the investigation is now expanding beyond assessing whether associates of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
A grand jury subpoena issued to a business associate of Mr. Flynn by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows that federal prosecutors are focusing in part on work Mr. Flynn undertook for Turkish interests, which he didn’t disclose in full until weeks after his resignation from the White House.
The subpoena that the Journal reviewed was sent out in early April, nearly a month before Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, raising questions about whether the president learned the investigation into Mr. Flynn was escalating before firing Mr. Comey, who was overseeing the probe.
Mr. Trump said at a news conference with the visiting Colombian president that he didn’t ask Mr. Comey to back off his probe into Mr. Flynn, as people close to the former FBI director have suggested.
Media outlets reported earlier this week that Mr. Trump made the request of Mr. Comey during a private meeting in February, citing notes Mr. Comey made at the time. Those reports came a week after Mr. Trump had abruptly fired Mr. Comey. Congressional investigators have demanded copies of those notes and asked Mr. Comey to testify about them.
Mr. Trump’s comments Thursday were his first on the Comey account; previous denials had come from the White House.
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