UPDATE: Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate the Trump-Russia Case

The U.S. Justice Dept. appointed former prosecutor and FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into the Trump-Russia case. The decision fulfilled lawmakers' demands for an independently probe. (AP)

Associated Press

Updated: May 17th, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department abruptly appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday night as a special counsel to lead a federal investigation into allegations that Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election that put him in the White House. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.

The surprise announcement to hand the probe over to Mueller, a lawman with deep bipartisan respect, was a striking shift for Trump’s Justice Department, which had resisted increasingly loud calls from Democrats for an outside prosecutor. It immediately escalated the legal stakes — and the potential political damage — for a president who has tried to dismiss the matter as partisan witch hunt and a “hoax.”

The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed, said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

In a written statement, Trump insisted anew there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.

“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” he declared. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

Mueller’s broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would surely include Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

Mueller, a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, was confirmed as FBI director days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that would ultimately shape his tenure. The FBI’s counterterror mission was elevated in those years, as the U.S. intelligence agencies adjusted to better position America to prevent another attack of such magnitude. He was so valued that President Barack Obama asked him to stay on two years longer than his 10-year term.

Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama.

Rosenstein said the appointment was “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”

Read more »

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation (The New York Times)
U.S. Lawmakers to Trump: Turn Over Transcript of Meeting With Russians (The Washington Post)
Trump Shared Top US Secrets With Russia (The Washington Post)

Political Chaos in Washington is a Return on Investment for Moscow (The Washington Post)
Former director of US national intelligence says US institutions under assault by Trump & Russia (CNN)

Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey (The Washington Post)

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