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Trump lashes out over special counsel appointment

US President Donald Trump speaks during the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in New London, Connecticut, May 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump, in a remarkable move for a sitting president, lashed out Thursday at the appointment of a special counsel — made by his own Justice Department — to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with his campaign.

Trump, casting himself as the victim of the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history, took a defiant tone on his favorite medium, Twitter. The comments break with the more muted statement Trump issued through the White House on Wednesday, where he stressed his desire to get to the bottom of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special (counsel) appointed,” he tweeted.

“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history,” he added.

The tweets also raise questions about whether Trump, with his more defiant tone on the special counsel, will actually cooperate with the probe.

Trump had been silent on Twitter about the most recent controversy in the wake of the bombshell reports that he asked former FBI Director James Comey to back off the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel Wednesday to oversee the investigation, which has focused on contacts between Trump’s campaign associates and Russian officials. The move aimed to quell the wave of criticism facing the Trump administration since the President fired Comey last week as the investigation intensified.

Trump’s Twitter comments are likely to aggravate his top aides and lawyers in the White House Counsel’s office. Trump’s off-the-cuff comments have been used against him in the past, most recently during court cases on his attempt to stem the flow of refugees coming into the United States with a travel ban.

As special counsel, Mueller is “authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” according to the Justice Department order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed.

Trump first responded Wednesday in a crisp, 57-word statement saying a “thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” adding that he looked forward to a speedy resolution to the probe.

The White House Wednesday night was aiming for a measured response to Mueller’s appointment and ended the night relatively pleased at the muted approach they believed the President put forward.

But that clearly dissipated by Thursday morning.

Trump’s tweets Thursday echoed comments he made the day before at the United States Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony, when he claimed that “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”