Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the federal investigation into the Russian interference in the November 2016 election.
The shift to an independent investigator comes amid growing concerns from both parties that the investigation could not be handled fairly. It is being reported that the White House was only given an hour or less of a warning that the news of Mueller’s appointment would be forthcoming.
Mueller was appointed FBI Director in 2001 by President George W. Bush and served for 12 years.
In a statement, Rosenstein said:
“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 has 60 days to submit a budget for the investigation to Rosenstein. Earlier on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that a special counsel would not be necessary:
“I don’t know why you need additional resources when you already have three entities.”
Spicer was referring to the House, Senate, and the FBI.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had previously recused himself of matters relating to the Russian investigation.
Additional concern over the Russian interference in the November election follows the news that ousted FBI Director James Comey was fired and subsequently has revealed through memos that President Trump had pushed him to end his look into Michael Flynn. Flynn was forced to step down as national security advisor after news broke that he had not properly revealed his connections to foreign governments, including Russian officials.
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