The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports. According to the Washington Post, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has tasked Robert Mueller with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Mueller, a former FBI director, is authorized to prosecute any federal crimes the investigation uncovers and will have subpoena authority, USA Today reports.
Mueller will answer to Rosenstein at the DOJ but have more freedom to run the investigation than would a US attorney. "I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel," Rosenstein said in a statement. Rosenstein makes it clear that doesn't mean he's found evidence of criminal acts. In a statement following Rosenstein's announcement, Trump said a special counsel will only confirm what everyone already knows: there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, the AP reports. Mueller served as FBI director from 2001 to 2013, the longest term since J. Edgar Hoover. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz calls him a "great selection" with "impeccable credentials." (Read more Russia stories.)