The US Department of Justice on Wednesday appointed an ex-director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to look into allegations that Donald Trump's presidential campaign staff had ties to Russia. The 72-year-old Mueller led the FBI for 12 years, becoming the second-longest serving director in the bureau's history. He commands bipartisan respect.
The decision to appoint Mueller was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who said that he took the step "to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election". He said the special counsel will probe "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump."
The deputy attorney general added that Mueller “is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters."
However, Rosenstein said in a separate statement that "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted". Rather, "What I have determined is, 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."
After Mueller's appointment was announced, Trump issued a statement saying "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly." The appointment of a special counsel had been requested by Democrats but opposed by the president.