The Department of Justice announced the appointment of a special counsel to lead the investigation of possible Russian interference with last year’s presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s appointment was met with praise from both sides of the aisle.
“Obviously that’s a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.
“This takes the politics out of it, hopefully. This has gotten too political,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
In naming Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement that he wanted someone to “…oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters….”
“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted,” he noted. “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,” he explained.
Mueller served as FBI director from 2001 to 2013.
“I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” he said in a statement.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., was also pleased with Mueller’s appointment.
“Whatever investigation goes on will have the credibility of Bob Mueller, the former director of the FBI,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning, calling the investigation “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
On Wednesday, the president predicted that the probe would “confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
During a Wednesday commencement address to the United States Coast Guard, the president blasted the media.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” he said. “No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
The appointment of a special counsel comes as Trump is about to embark on his first overseas trip as president, heading to Saudi Arabia, Israel and The Vatican — and amid reports that the president has decided against moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for now.
And despite that important trip, along with his plans for tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare, the Russian investigation could remain in the headlines for some time to come.