The Justice Department announced that Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI, has been appointed special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“What I have determined is based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,” said Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, which had left Rosenstein to oversee it.
Democrats have been calling for a special counsel for the probe. Mueller’s role as special counsel will cover Russian attempts to influence the election as well as other “related matters,” which is being taken to include any ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Rosenstein said that his decision is “not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”
He said that he had “determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly. Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result.”
Mueller will oversee the FBI investigation. He led the bureau from 2001 to 2013.
President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Mueller’s successor, last week. Since then, Democrats have accelerated their calls for a special prosecutor for the case, and continued to do so after the New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump in February asked Comey to end the FBI’s investigation of Flynn. The story cited memos that Comey took of his conversations with the president.
Mueller will resign his position at the law firm WilmerHale.
In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said, “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”