Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Mueller: 9/11 FBI head again catapulted into new challenge

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of IL, one of the first Republicans to call for appointment of a special counsel, called Mueller "a fantastic person".

The Justice Department's decision to appoint former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller as a special counsel charged with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation is a win for Democrats, a new blow to a reeling White House, and a clear sign that the scandal that has engulfed the administration will only accelerate in the weeks and months ahead.

In a statement released by the White House, Trump said: "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".

The appointment was welcomed by both Democrats and Republicans.

Special counsel is a position that can be used under a statute which permits the attorney general or a deputy in the absence of an attorney general or if he recuses himself to conduct an independent investigation. Ultimately, had he not fired Comey in a fit of pique about the Russian Federation investigation, it might never had emerged that he reportedly asked the FBI chief to cool it in his investigation. A special counsel is not similar to an independent counsel.

The situation is similar to the investigation into whether officials in President George W. Bush's administration leaked the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to reporters.

Fitzgerald indicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush granted Libby clemency from a prison sentence before he left office.

"He is not one of the best, Robert Mueller, he is the best I ever saw". The decision to name Mueller as special counsel came after a huge turmoil in administration since last week after sudden dismissal of Comey.

A bad day for the White House could turn out to be a good day for justice and democratic accountability and institutions.

Rosenstein said he had taken the decision "to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election", including "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump".

He was credited with transforming the Federal Bureau of Investigation after Congress and an independent government commission established that the agency and the CIA had failed to share information before the attacks that could have helped thwart them.

At the FBI, Mueller put more resources into counterterrorism investigations and improving its cooperation with other federal agencies.

Mr Mueller, a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, was confirmed as FBI director days before the September 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. During his tenure, he worked on high-profile cases such as the prosecution of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega and the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. 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.

In the aftermath of the firing, congressional Democrats began calling for a special counsel or special prosecutor to take over the investigation because of fears that the Justice Department wouldn't be able or willing to properly investigate Trump and his current and former aides.

Comey wrote a memo detailing how Trump commented to him in February that "I hope you can let this go", referring to the Flynn probe, a source who has seen a memo written by Comey said on Tuesday. He is entitled to a budget, can request new or additional staff and will have the same authority as high-ranking Justice Department lawyers, including the ability to prosecute any crimes he uncovers. He also resigned from his private law firm.

Mr. Trump told them the appointment would allow them to refer questions to Mr. Mueller, giving them space to focus on policies such as tax reform. 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.

Capping days of political drama in Washington, Mueller's appointment came as Trump fends off a stunning series of allegations including claims he shared U.S. secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office.

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