On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein gave Democrats and their allies a victory with the appointment of a special counsel to oversee allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 election along with “related matters.”
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said, announcing the appointment of former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that 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.”
“Each year, the career professionals of the U.S. Department of Justice conduct tens of thousands of criminal investigations and handle countless other matters without regard to partisan political considerations. I have great confidence in the independence and integrity of our people and our processes. Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, however, I determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly. Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result,” he added.
Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is acting Attorney General, with all the powers that entails, for purposes of the Russia probe. As such, Rosenstein has full authority to unilaterally pass responsibility off to Mueller, who will continue the already months-long investigation without reporting through the normal FBI and DOJ chain-of-command.
Rosenstein’s decision came after Washington exploded into speculation Tuesday over the New York Times report that a “Comey Memo” showed that President Donald Trump had suggested in a private conversation that now-ex-FBI Director James Comey “let it go” with regard to now-fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Mueller, Breitbart further said, served a full 10-year term as FBI director under both Presidents Bush and Barack Obama, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
His purview will include all FBI investigation into:
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).
Breitbart explained that Regulation 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) “expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to all crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his original named responsibility.”
The Trump administration responded by saying the 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. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country,” Trump said.
CBS reported that Mueller’s appointment doesn’t go far enough for some Democrats, however:
Mueller’s selection answers a growing chorus in Congress to appoint a special prosecutor in the FBI’s Russia probe, although some in Congress, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi say Mueller’s appointment doesn’t go far enough. She and other Democrats have also called for an independent commission to investigate any ties between Russia and Trump associates.
But more developments may arise from Comey himself. The ousted FBI director “most definitely” wants to testify before Congress — and has other memos in addition to the one claiming Mr. Trumpinto Flynn, a source familiar with Comey’s thinking told CBS News’ Andres Triay. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee have asked Comey to testify.
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