The Justice Department appointed a former FBI director, Robert Mueller, as the special counsel in the Trump-Russia investigation. The special counsel will investigate the alleged involvement of Russia in the 2016 elections and involvement of the president or his campaign in that effort.
This move was a clear indication that federal investigators will pursue the case in spite of President Trump’s insistence that he has no ties to the Kremlin and that the investigation was “a taxpayer funded charade.” The decision to appoint a special prosecutor came nearly a week after James Comey was fired.
There was increasing pressure on the Department of Justice by Democratic lawmakers, and even some Republicans, to initiate an independent investigation after reports emerged that Trump asked Comey to stop the investigation of Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.
The decision to appoint Robert Mueller as the special counsel was taken by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. As reported by the Washington Post, White House was informed about the decision just 30 minutes before the public announcement.
Rosenstein said in a statement, “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.”
Rosenstein further clarified the decision did not indicate that a crime was committed. The appointment was to put the Russia investigation under a person who was independent of the chain of command.
Mr. Mueller will have special powers to keep the investigation as independent as possible. He would have the liberty not to inform the Justice Department about the progress of his findings. He could also press criminal charges and request additional resources. It is worth noting that he will still be answerable to Mr. Rosenstein and, by extension, the president.
President Donald Trump summoned his top advisers to discuss the new development in the Trump-Russia investigation. As reported by the New York Times, Jared Kushner advised Trump to counterattack, but the majority decision prevailed.
Trump reacted by saying, “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know. There was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel could be a nightmare for Trump as Robert is considered one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the U.S. He is respected and trusted by both the Republicans and Democrats.
He was appointed as FBI director by George W. Bush for a tenure of 10 years, which ended in 2011. For the first time, the president of U.S. asked an FBI director to extend his term for another two years. He is known as a by-the-book straight-shooter with an exacting management style.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2017
Mueller joined the FBI a week before the September 2011 attacks and is credited with preventing the disintegration of the bureau. In the aftermath of the attacks, there was a demand to create a separate domestic intelligence agency.
Interestingly, Mueller and Comey share a close relationship, as both stood against President Bush’s use of executive power. In 2004, when Comey, who was serving as the deputy attorney general, threatened to resign, he was backed by Mueller in his decision.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 18, 2017
As a special counsel, Mueller will also have the authority to investigate additional matters that may arise indirectly from the Trump-Russia investigation. This would include General Michael Flynn and the recent controversial Comey firing.
It will be under his jurisdiction to charge offenses such as lying to the investigators or the grand jury. He will have the power to probe any crimes that may have arisen because of the investigation. All these aspects make the situation pretty grim for President Donald Trump amid the demands for impeachment.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]