Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed special counsel in the investigation of Russian interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after it was revealed that former FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Trump because he would not abandon the Russia investigation. Rosenstein is calling the shots because Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from matters related to Russia after he incorrectly stated under oath he had not had contact with the Russians during the election season. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Mueller, who has had a long and prestigious career, is taking on highly sensitive political investigation that could be long and drawn out. With several government agencies and entities already looking into Russian meddling, Mueller will be faced with a slew of information he will be tasked with sorting through.
In the end, Mueller will have to suss out whether or not the Trump campaign, now administration, had inappropriate or criminal dealings with Russia. As special counsel, Mueller will have the power to subpoena individuals for public testimony and bring criminal charges if necessary.
The appointment of Mueller was met with rare, resounding bipartisan support in Washington. Both Democrats and Republicans alike had glowing things to say about Mueller, who originally was appointed by President George W. Bush.
President Obama asked Mueller to stay on past his 10-year tenure until Comey was appointed and sworn-in, making him the longest serving FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover.
“Bob Mueller has the experience and expertise, the guts and backbone, to ensure the independence of this investigation,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
Across the aisle, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) praised Mueller, but expressed his desire for the Senate’s own investigation to continue.
“Mr. Mueller is widely respected for his independence and professionalism. I have confidence that he will conduct a fair and thorough investigation. For the sake of the country, all parties must fully cooperate with his efforts that are focused on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Rubio said. “This effort should in no way be allowed to impede the ability of the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct and conclude its investigation into the same subject.”
President Trump released a standard statement after the announcement was made, surprisingly devoid of any controversial claims. On Twitter, however, he was not so composed:
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
The congressman from Salem, Mass., Democrat Seth Moulton, disputed that claim, adding levity to a serious situation. However, party members on both sides of the aisle are supporting Rosenstein’s appointment, making it clear they do not agree with President Trump’s assertion.
In the coming months Americans can expect to hear Mueller’s name frequently — he’s not going away anytime soon.
[Washington Post] [CNN] [NBC News] [Business Insider] [Washington Examiner] [Photo courtesy Christopher Gregory/ New York Times]