A former Federal Bureau of Investigation director will be overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, alleged ties between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign, as well as possible obstruction of justice charges against President Donald Trump.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein today announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as Special Counsel to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.
“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,” said Rosenstein. “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,” said Rosenstein.
Rosenstein added, “Each year, the career professionals of the U.S. Department of Justice conduct tens of thousands of criminal investigations and handle countless other matters without regard to partisan political considerations. I have great confidence in the independence and integrity of our people and our processes.”
“Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, however, I determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” said Rosenstein.
“Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly,” said Rosenstein. “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 has agreed to resign from his private law firm in order to avoid any conflicts of interest with firm clients or attorneys.
“President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director investigating Russian involvement with the 2016 presidential election does not just make him look guilty, because obstruction of justice is itself a crime,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey Democrat.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee said, “The White House didn’t want this. Republicans didn’t want this. Americans who spoke out made this happen.”
Mueller threatened to resign from office in March 2004 if the White House overruled a Department of Justice finding that domestic wiretapping without a court warrant was unconstitutional.
Then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who was fired as FBI director by Trump, convinced Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to reject attempts by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to conduct domestic spying.
The connection between Mueller and Comey has to worry Trump associates, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress appear pleased with the selection.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from participating in the investigation after he got caught lying during a Senate confirmation hearing about his conversations with Russian officials while they may have been trying to interfere with the 2016 election.
A copy of the order is attached.
The need for an investigation began with evidence that Russians may have been trying to interfere with the 2016 election in order to destabilize American democracy.
Subsequently, Trump has made matters for himself worse by admitting his concern over the Russian investigation influenced his decision to fire the FBI director, sharing highly classified intelligence with Russian officials, and directly asking Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.
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