Robert Mueller named special counsel to investigate Russia election interference

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The Department of Justice headed to Democratic Congressional demands and appointed a special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. On Thursday evening, May 17, 2017, the Department of Justice announced that they appointed Former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct the Russia investigation. Two hours later, President Donald Trump issued a statement on the appointment which will also investigate any ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Mueller’s appointment in a statement. Rosenstein wrote the special counsel will “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”

Rosenstein explained the reason for the appointment, writing, “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 also released a statement accepting the post. Mueller commented, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.” The DOJ has given Mueller 60 days to put together a budget. Rosenstein described the task in his statement, “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.”

According to ABC News, the special counsel post grants Mueller the “investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney,” including bringing about a grand jury, “issue subpoenas,” and even “assign federal agents” to investigate the case. Mueller, 72 was the FBI Director for 12 years from 2001 until 2013. Republican President George W. Bush nominated him and he remained in his post through Democratic President Barack Obama’s first term in office.

Two hours later, President Trump issued a statement about the appointment. Trump reiterated there was no collusion, saying, “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,” read the statement from Trump. “I look forward to this matter, concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

The White House, however, was against the appointment. On Monday, May 15, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the press during the daily briefing there was “no need for a special prosecutor.” Spicer said, “There’s, frankly, no need for a special prosecutor. We’ve discussed this before. You have two Senate committees that are looking into this, the FBI is conducting their own review. And — and I think if you even look at what Acting Director (Andrew) McCabe said last week, he made it very clear that they have the resources that they need and that the work continues.”

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