WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into claims of Russian influence during the 2016 presidential election and the recent firing of James Comey by president Trump.
The appointment came as a result of bipartisan outcry for a probe into what, if any, role Russia may have played in the outcome of the 2016 election and whether Comey was fired from his role as FBI director because he refused to cease an investigation into the possible ethics violations by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”
The decision by the DOJ to appoint Mueller follows a report by the New York Times on Tuesday that fired FBI Director James Comey claimed in a memo that Trump had asked him to end his investigation into Flynn.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had spoke out earlier on Wednesday, saying that no special counsel was needed on the matter.
Calls for comment to the White House have not yet been returned.