In a surprising turn of events, the Department of Justice has turned the Russia investigation over to special counsel. The DOJ announced on Wednesday evening that former FBI director Robert Mueller has been appointed to serve as special counsel in the investigation into Trump’s likely collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.
#Breaking: DOJ confirms deputy attorney general has named former FBI director Robert Mueller special counsel in Russia investigation
— NPR (@NPR) May 17, 2017
The decision to appoint Mueller was made by Rod Rosenstein, who is the second-in-command at the Justice Department and currently overseeing the investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from the probe due to his own shady Russian ties.
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,” he said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”
“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.”
The news of Mueller’s appointment follows a week of one bombshell after another which has rocked Washington and left the White House in full-on crisis mode. Donald Trump decided to fire FBI Director James Comey in the middle of the Russia investigation. Not long after, it came out that he had pressured Comey to drop the investigation and Comey apparently has memos to back up this claim.
Democrats have been calling for a special prosecutor for months, but Republicans had staunchly refused. However, Trump’s latest scandal has seemingly been the straw that broke the camel’s back and no one has been rushing to defend him this time. There have been nothing but crickets from the right and even Fox News can’t find a Republican who is willing to speak on Trump’s behalf at this point.
The Washington Post reports that under the order, Mueller is “tasked with investigating ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump’ as well as ‘any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation’ and any other matters that fall under the scope of the Justice Department regulation covering special counsel appointments.”
If the special counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the special counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,’’ the order states.
According to the DOJ, Mueller will resign from the private law firm he currently works at to prevent any conflict of interest.
UPDATE: This article originally said Mueller had been appointed as a special “prosecutor.” However, he has been appointed as special counsel and this article has been edited to reflect that.
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