Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee the investigation into whether or not associates of President Donald Trump and Russian officials coordinated last year to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.
Mueller is a former prosecutor who also served as FBI director from 2001 until 2013, the Washington Post reports. Rosenstein said that Mueller has agreed to serve in the role, and his appointment represents the Trump administration’s concession to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independent of the Justice Department.
The calls for a special counsel to be appointed have increased in the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last week.
“In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that 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.’’
Mueller will be resigning from his private law firm in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
Rosenstein has been overseeing the Russia probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, but his impartiality has also been questioned by Democrats because he authored the memo used as rationale for Comey’s firing. Trump later claimed that he decided to fire Comey before Rosenstein’s recommendation.
The order Rosenstein signed Wednesday tasks Mueller with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any other matters that fall under the scope of the Justice Department regulation covering special-counsel appointments, the Post reports.
“If the special counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the special counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” the order states.
Shall we hold our collective breath and see what comes out of it? I mean, if the president can get away with obstruction of justice and not have impeachment be put immediately on the table, who does he have to kill to get put out of office?
Read more at the Washington Post.