Former FBI Director Mueller to lead Trump-Russia probe; Colo. lawmakers react

Gladys Abbott
May 18, 2017

Just over a week after President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, the Department of Justice appointed Comey's predecessor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, as special counsel for the investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.

"The Trump Administration must make clear that Director Mueller will have the resources and independence he needs to execute this critical investigation", Pelosi said in a statement.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill praised the pick of former FBI director Robert Mueller to be special counsel in charge of the Russian Federation investigation - but some Democrats are anxious Mueller's selection doesn't go far enough.

But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious after Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Trump's meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed.

Now, Mueller once again finds himself catapulted into the midst of historic events: The Justice Department has named him special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump team during the 2016 presidential election and related matters.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said Mueller's appointment gave him "significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead".

The top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have invited former FBI Director James Comey to testify publicly.

The senators have also asked Comey to testify about his interactions with former President Barack Obama's administration about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails.

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"He's a private citizen now", Bash said, "so he can kind of do what he wants". "While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn", a White House statement said.

The Kentucky Republican had said initially that investigations by the Senate intelligence panel and the FBI were sufficient.

Investigations already underway in the Senate Intelligence Committee and House Intelligence Committee and other panels will progress.

Rosenstein, who at his confirmation hearing would not commit to a special counsel appointment and who inherited the probe following Sessions' recusal, seemed to acknowledge the public outcry by calling Mueller's selection "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome".

Trump still chose Flynn as his national security adviser, with access to nearly every state secret.

Mueller said in a statement tweeted by CBS News: "I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability". Director Mueller will still be in the chain of command under the Trump-appointed leadership of the Justice Department.

Before the inauguration, Michael Flynn told President Trump's transition team that he was the subject of a federal investigation, two people with knowledge of the case told The New York Times on Wednesday. He also has the authority to prosecute crimes if he finds any wrongdoing has taken place. He was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2001 to 2013, appointed first by President George W. Bush and then by President Barack Obama.

The appointment came as Democrats insisted ever more loudly that someone outside Trump's Justice Department must handle the politically charged investigation. Comey said he replied that "I agree he is a good guy" but said nothing to Trump about limiting the investigation.

"A special prosecutor is the first step, but it can not be the last". Before taking "significant" actions, however, the special counsel must notify the attorney general. "Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted". Mueller will have to propose a budget to the Justice Department within the next 60 days - and update it annually, for as long as the investigation runs. And later, as head of the Justice Department's criminal division, he oversaw high-profile prosecutions that brought victories against targets as varied as Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and NY crime boss John Gotti. "I don't as a general rule believe in special counsels, I think they can go off on their own". For example, Kenneth Starr, who investigated former President Bill Clinton, probed allegations surrounding his past real estate deals but later expanded the inquiry into Clinton's relations with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky, leading to an impeachment of Clinton by the House.

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