Robert Mueller appointed special counsel to oversee probe into Russia’s interference in 2016 election

The United States Department of Justice has announced that a special counsel has been appointed to investigate Russian interference into last year’s presidential election and links or coordination with the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was assigned by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters.”

In a statement, Rosenstein said, “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.”

“I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” said Mueller in a statement.

Mueller will have 60 days to put together a budget for resources to conduct the investigation and that budget must be approved by Rosenstein. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from all matters related to the presidential campaign.

“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,” said Rosenstein in the statement.

Justice Department officials were in touch with Mueller within days of the firing of FBI Director James Comey last week. Comey confirmed in March that the bureau was actively investigating Russian influence and collusion with the Trump campaign.

As special counsel, Mueller can be expected to have the full powers and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney. These powers include the ability to take matters before a grand jury,…

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