Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel for its Russian probe. Mueller will help lead a federal investigation into claims that President Donald Trump and his campaign cooperated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller has been provided with sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes that he comes across. As special counsel, Mueller will have the power to subpoena records and establish criminal charges. He can also prosecute anyone who interferes in the investigation, whether it’s perjury, destruction of evidence or obstruction of justice. He may request for his jurisdiction to be widened.

The Justice Department will give Mueller staff – he can also request additional personnel from both inside and outside the department. He must propose a budget within the next sixty days and update it every year.

This announcement comes on the heels of President Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

Rosenstein noted that the decision to hire Mueller does not mean a crime has been committed or a prosecution is warranted. He stated that the immense public interest “requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence.”

Since the election, the Democrats have demanded a special counsel to assess Russia interference.

Mueller, who was at the helm of the FBI for twelve years under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, issued a statement:

I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.

The president also released an official White House statement on Thursday, saying that the investigation will show there was no collusion:

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. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.

Trump did spend his Thursday morning on Twitter, calling it “the single greatest witch hunt”:

With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed!

This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

 


The reaction from politicians on both sides has been positive.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters the move could reduce partisan tensions on Capitol Hill, adding that it could help the Senate quickly confirm the president’s replacement for Comey. Many reports suggest that Trump could nominate former Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated that Mueller will assist in establishing a “thorough and independent investigation.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said there was “no better person who could be asked to perform this function.” Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) believes the appointment was a “good decision.”

The reaction from the media, however, has been divided.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called having a special counsel a “mistake” because they are “politically unaccountable”:

These expeditions rarely end well for anyone, and Democrats are hoping this one will bedevil the Trump Administration for the next four years. The problem with special counsels, as we’ve learned again and again, is that they are by definition politically unaccountable. What the country really needs is a full accounting of how the Russians tried to influence the election and whether any Americans assisted them.

It should be noted that the only person who can dismiss Mueller is Rosenstein for things like conflict of interest, dereliction of duty or misconduct.

Breitbart complained that there wasn’t any special counselor for the previous administration’s scandals:

But viewed in recent historical context, the appointment of a Special Counsel is unfair and indefensible. President Barack Obama faced a large number of scandals, many of which involved apparent violations of federal law. And yet in eight long years, Obama skated by without any serious investigations by the Department of Justice, or with investigations that were quashed from above. It seems Republican administration are held to a higher standard.

When a conclusion is made, it is likely that one side of the aisle will be upset. In the 1990s, Democrats accused Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater scandal, of exceeding his authority.

Andrew Moran

Economics Correspondent at Liberty Nation
Andrew has written extensively on economic, finance and political issues for a decade. In addition to Liberty Nation, Andrew writes for EarnForex.com, Economic Collapse News and LearnBonds. He is the author of three books, including “The War on Cash.”