by Katie Bo Williams · May 17, 2017
The Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential election.
Mueller, a former prosecutor who served a 12-year term at the helm of the bureau, has accepted the position, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“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 the 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.”
Democrats have clamored for Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor in the wake of reports that fired FBI Director James Comey penned a memo documenting a request from President Trump that he “let go” of the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Rosenstein is overseeing the Russia probe in the wake of the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who stepped aside over his failure to disclose a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Although he had previously been a broadly liked and uncontroversial figure in Washington, Rosenstein came under scrutiny from Democrats for penning the memorandum used by the Trump administration to justify Comey’s dismissal.
Rosenstein’s memo, which stopped short of explicitly recommending Comey’s firing, laid out a series of critiques of his handling of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State.
The president later said that he had decided to fire Comey irrespective of Rosenstein’s recommendation.