WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee the previously confirmed investigation of Russian efforts to influential the 2016 Presidential election and related matters.
“I have determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” Rosenstein said in a statement.
The letter announcing the appointment reads that Mueller is authorized to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and…any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Following the announcement, President Trump said a thorough investigation will confirm what he says is already known, that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and any foreign entity.
In a written statement, Trump said “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”
Mueller also released a statement following his appointment, saying, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.” Mueller’s law firm law firm, WilmerHale, said he resigned immediately upon his Wednesday appointment.
Numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for a special counsel, colloquially known as a special prosecutor. Such calls increased in recent days after Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
On Tuesday, it was revealed thealleging that Mr. Trump had asked him to back off from investigation former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The memo allegedly says that the president said, in a private conversation with Comey at the White House, “”I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Rosenstein’s letter announcing the appointment of Mueller says, “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.”
CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that the FBI investigators who are currently on this case may stay on the case. Mueller will have discretion on who he uses in his probe.
Mueller was appointed FBI director in 2001 and served in the position until 2013. FBI directors are appointed to ten-year terms, but President Barack Obama added two years to his tenure.
Mueller has deep ties to the Bay Area, having worked as a litigator in San Francisco after receiving his law degree until 1976. After that, he served for 12 years in United States Attorney offices, initially working in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where he rose to be chief of the criminal division.
In 1982, Mueller moved to Boston to work in the office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts as Assistant United States Attorney, where he investigated and prosecuted major financial fraud, terrorism and public corruption cases, as well as narcotics conspiracies and international money launderers.
In 1989, he served in the United States Department of Justice as an assistant to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. The following year he took charge of its criminal division. During his tenure, he oversaw prosecutions that included Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the Lockerbie bombing case and the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.
A career prosecutor and veteran of the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Mueller is a widely respected figure in Washington.
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