The official investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election has just taken a surprising turn. Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has been appointed independent special prosecutor. He will spearhead the Justice Department investigation into the role the Russians played in the election of Donald Trump.
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In addition, Mueller will be responsible for examining coordination between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon. The decision was made by Rosenstein and not Attorney General Jeff Sessions becasue Sessions has recused himself from any dealing with the Russian investigation.
“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that prosecution is warranted,” Rosenstein said. “I have made no such determination.”
“Based on 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.”
That public interest has continued to snowball after Trump’s recent meeting with the Russian ambassador. During that meeting he is rumored to have shared intelligence with the diplomats inappropriately.
Mueller’s role in the investigation will, Rosenstein says, all the “American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”
Mueller directed the FBI from 2001 to 2013. He was appointed by President George W. Bush, and took his position just a week before the 9/11 attacks.Before his work with the FBI, Mueller served U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
Mueller will run his investigation from the DOJ, and will have a dedicated budget line and the ability to hire his own investigative staff. In short, he’s been given license to “ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
Mueller’s role will be largely logistical, but he has been tasked with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” along with “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Rosenstein’s order sums up his decision. “Our nation is grounded in the rule of law,” he wrote, “and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly.”