As announced Wednesday by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the DOJ has decided to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation of Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 election.
Rosenstein says he believes the appointment “is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome” of the investigation.
“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.”
“This announcement takes this investigation to another level,” said Fox News’ Bret Baier. “Mueller will have leeway to run the investigation as he sees fit. Mueller will have all the powers of a US attorney and will be able to empanel a grand jury.” The position also gives Mueller oversight of “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," which could include the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
The White House was notified of Mueller's appointment just one hour in advance. While President Trump didn't think a special counsel was necessary, he has responded well to the decision.
Trump says he “looks forward to this matter concluding quickly” and that the investigation will “confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”
The surprising appointment comes amid growing pressure for someone outside the DOJ to handle the controversial and politically charged investigation, and Mueller's selection has been met with bipartisan support.
Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the appointment is a “good decision” that “assures the American people that there’s no undue influence” in the Russia investigation.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D) calls the decision is a “victory for all Americans.”
Mueller, whose 12-year term as FBI director put him in charge of the agency during 9/11, was key in transforming the FBI into a counter intelligence and counter terrorism operation. Mueller resigned from his job at a private law firm to accept the job of special counsel, and says he will handle the investigation "to the best of my ability."
Editor's note: If Mueller does indeed handle this with integrity (no reason to expect otherwise) then perhaps the investigation will truly beCo confidential, and we will not have daily leaks, interviews and speculations like we had with Director Comey.