The Justice Department announced the appointment of a special prosecutor on Wednesday amid growing concerns from Democratic representatives. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein announced the decision by the Justice Department after a week of being pressured to ensure that the probe remained independent from the White House.
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“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that prosecution is warranted,” Rosenstein told the Los Angeles Times. “I have made no such determination”
This announcement followed the revelation that President Donald Trump before his dismissal, FBI Director James Comey had written a memo stating that Trump had asked him to end an investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
It also comes just days after the accusation that Trump shared classified information regarding the Islamic State with Russian officials during a recent meeting.
Both allegations came from anonymous sources, and the White House was quick to denounce the leaks any deny any wrongdoing, insisting the president never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor did he make inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.
Since then, Trump also complained in a commencement address that “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he said.
In a statement following the appointment of Mueller, Trump welcomed the special prosecutor, saying that “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.”
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According to Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, the decision to appoint a special prosecutor could ease tensions in Congress. Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Cornyn said that this announcement could also make it easier for the Senate to confirm Trump’s replacement of former FBI Director Comey.
Several other Democratic leaders expressed their satisfaction with this decision shortly after the announcement was made, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Mueller was appointed FBI Director in 2001, and led the FBI through the terror attacks of September 11 before retiring in 2012. The Justice Department said that Mueller reportedly resigned from a job at the private law firm, WilmerHale, to accept the position of special counsel. Mueller will reportedly have the ability to hire staff and request a budget from the Department of Justice.
In a statement following the announcement, Mueller said, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”