WASHINGTON, May 17, 2017 ⏤ The Department of Justice announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will be a special counsel overseeing an investigation into ties between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign. The announcement comes after it was revealed that recently fired FBI Director James Comey kept notes of a meeting that say Trump asked the director to terminate the investigation into Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller, despite claims by the White House that the appointment of a special counsel was unnecessary. Rosenstein released a statement explaining his decision to request a special counsel.
“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. 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.”
Mueller will have full power to look into the ways Russia may have influenced the 2016 election. The investigation is expected to take several months and will be conducted apart from congressional hearings.
Mueller has the authority to convene grand juries and to seek indictments as he sees necessary. He has special access to all the information the FBI and the Department of Justice have gathered this far.
Following the announcement, President Trump said that the investigation would not uncover any collusion between his 2016 campaign and foreign countries including Russia.
“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,” Trump said. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
The choice of Mueller was met with bipartisan approval on Capitol Hill, where Republicans cried foul over the call for a special prosecutor. The appointment of Mueller is the first time the Department of Justice has gone outside its base to appoint a special prosecutor since 1999 when then-Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former Sen. John Danforth to investigate the showdown at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.