(CN) — President Donald Trump finally conceded Friday that he is the subject of a federal investigation, testily claiming in a tweet that he is being investigated for firing FBI Director James Comey by the man who told him to do it.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the president wrote in his tweet shortly after 9 a.m. Friday morning.
Also on Friday The New York Times sued the FBI, seeking a court’s help in getting the agency to turn over documents created by fired FBI Director James Comey after his conversations with President Donald Trump.
The Manhattan federal court lawsuit was filed a day after CNN sued the Justice Department in Washington, seeking the same information.
Both actions seek documents Comey told the Senate he created earlier this year immediately after meetings and conversations with the president.
The tweet storm by the president followed an extended Twitter tirade that began Thursday night with broadsides at his Democratic rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.
“Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?” he groused, adding later, “Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?”
The president appeared to stop tweeting long enough to get some sleep, but he was back at it bright and early Friday.
“After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my “collusion with the Russians,” nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!” Trump tweeted at one point.
At another point he said, “The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media – over 100 million people! I can go around them.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the president was basing his tweet on direct knowledge that he is under investigation, or on reports this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is examining whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey last month amid the ongoing Russia investigation.
Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by Trump campaign associates with the Russians, but there has been no indication that Mueller told Trump to fire Comey.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted a widely circulated memo to the president last month raising concerns over Comey’s performance, but Trump later asserted that he had already made the decision himself to fire Comey.
The White House confirmed that Mueller was among the candidates Trump interviewed to replace Comey. A day later, Rosenstein appointed Mueller, who was at the helm of the FBI during the Sept. 11 attacks, as special counsel.
While Trump appeared to be in a fury over reports in the Washington Post and elsewhere saying he is under investigation, Rosenstein took a different approach Thursday night, releasing a statement that said, “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”
The Twitter attacks came as Vice President Mike Pence hired a personal lawyer to represent him in the intensifying investigation. Pence’s office confirmed he had retained Richard Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general and U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to assist “in responding to inquiries” from Mueller.
Mueller’s investigation appeared to be reaching a broadening circle of current and former officials. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the investigators were looking into possible obstruction of justice.
The newspaper noted Mueller had requested interviews with CIA Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers and Richard Ledgett, the former NSA deputy director. Recent news reports have suggested Trump sought all three officials’ help in pressuring FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
Comey testified last week that he also felt pressured to drop the Flynn probe. Comey said he believes Trump ultimately fired him “because of the Russia investigation.”
Coats met behind closed doors for more than three hours Thursday with the Senate intelligence committee, which is conducting a separate investigation into Russian interference in the election.