Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Investigation will prove lack of links with Russian Federation, says Donald Trump

Into the night, the White House struggled to contain its frustration.

The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations that Russian Federation and Donald Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election, giving Mueller sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered in the probe.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's decision to opt for a special counsel is also an antidote to fears that the USA political system still has the capacity to investigate itself and its most powerful players.

Who is Mueller? Here's a quick look at the man named to lead the investigation.

Mueller succeeded Weld as US attorney in Boston and then went to Washington in 1989 as an assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, eventually rising to be chief of the criminal division.

Mueller was born in New York City and grew up outside of Philadelphia.

Beyond allegedly asking Comey to quit his investigation into Flynn - who has been a central focus of the FBI's investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia - Trump said in an interview with NBC last week that he considered the "Russia thing with Trump and Russia' when he chose to fire Comey".

Here in the Natural State two politicians have released statements concerning the special counsel.

Republicans and Democrats alike praised the 72-year-old Mueller as someone widely respected for his integrity and independence. "I think it's reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scale and a couple of other scandals that you and I have seen", McCain told Bob Schieffer of CBS News. "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted". He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation director would often reject summaries, asking instead to review the full notes taken by agents from their interviews. "That's all you can ask of a criminal justice system".

Mr Rosenstein said the appointment was "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome".

Rosenstein said based on "unique circumstances" and in public interest he determined the investigation had to overseen by "a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command" and who would "have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation".

The appointment represents a significant loss of control of the Russian Federation story for the administration. Comey later provided testimony about the moment, supported by a memo of the scene written by Mueller, that disputed the White House's version of events. "And so maybe, from a political perspective, someone may perceive a warmth and hugginess deficit, but I don't think that's relevant at all to the rigor of an investigation, or to impartiality or to transparency where it matters". One difference, however: Special counsels get to choose whether they inform the Justice Department what they're up to. Specifically the part where Mueller was doing his job, the documents were standard procedure, and literally everything about this situation was on the up-and-up. "He is going to be incredibly empowered. The important ongoing bipartisan investigation in the House will also continue". The White House would likely fight such a step in court, triggering what would be a damaging showdown that would have damaging political reverberations.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee also sent a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe asking for "any notes or memorandum [sic]" generated by Comey related to talks with the White House or Justice Department about the FBI's investigation.

There have been calls for months for a special counsel to oversee the investigation into any ties between Trump's campaign team and Moscow. In theory that could mean that Trump and his aides could find their past lives, as well as their present arrangements, open to investigation. White House intern Monica Lewinsky's relationship was discovered during an unrelated probe against Bill Clinton. "It is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president".

What is a special counsel?

Already, the West Wing mood was desperately grim. One White House official told CNN's Jim Acosta staff were exhausted by days of devastating reversals.

The president has long bristled at the notion that Russian Federation played any role in his November election victory, but the Russian Federation issue has clouded his early months in office.

For Capitol Hill Republicans, who have been whiplashed by the chaotic storm over allegations of wrongdoing by Trump and the White House, there was an audible sigh of relief.

GOP leaders have been caught between the White House's increasing exposure on Russian Federation and a desire not to offend the President's voters, who represent a substantial portion of their party's base and impatience that his troubles are slowing their best chance in decades to enact a conservative agenda.

For Democrats, the announcement of Mueller's new job represented good news and bad news.

As the President held brief conversations with the Federal Bureau of Investigation contenders, word reached the White House counsel's office on the second floor of the West Wing that the order had been signed. The attorney general would have to notify Congress of the conclusion, but can decide whether to make the special counsel's report public.

The top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said Rosenstein did "the right thing" by appointing Mueller.

Meanwhile, we all may be hearing a lot more about the now famous Comey memos soon. A former federal prosecutor who served under presidential administrations of both parties and became director days before the attacks, Mueller was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

The appointment Wednesday comes amid a growing Democratic outcry for someone outside the Justice Department to handle the politically charged investigation.

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