by Itunuoluwa Adebo
The Justice Department, Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including investigating a potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign associates and Russian officials.
In a letter obtained by CNN, Rod Rosenstein the Deputy Attorney General Rod appointed Mueller to the position. In the role as special counsel, Mueller is “authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” according to the Justice Department order Rosenstein signed.
Mueller’s appointment is aimed at quelling the wave of criticism that Trump and his administration have faced since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week in the middle of the FBI’s intensifying investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.
In a brief statement, Mueller said, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
News of the special counsel announcement was closely held. The White House received a heads-up less than an hour before the news broke. The rest of House leadership and rank-and-file members were left in the dark
Calls for a special counsel or prosecutor habe been rising since The New York Times reported on excerpts of a memo Comey wrote in February, in which Comey wrote that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Demands intensified from Democrats on Capitol Hill for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel or prosecutor to oversee the case. Republicans on Tuesday night began to join those calls.
Trump was meeting with FBI director candidates when the White House was formally told that a special prosecutor had been named in Russia investigation. The White House counsel informed the president.
“It’s still sinking in,” one administration official said, describing an air of uncertainty in the West Wing. “We were told about it. Not asked about it. White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday dismissed the idea of a special prosecutor.
“There’s, frankly, no need for a special prosecutor. We’ve discussed this before,” Spicer told reporters. “You have two Senate committees that are looking into this, the FBI is conducting their own review. And I think if you even look at what Acting Director McCabe said last week, he made it very clear that they have the resources that they need and that the work continue