The Department of Justice has appointed a special counsel to handle the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ongoing counter-intelligence investigation into Russia's activities during the 2016 presidential election.
The appointment? A former FBI Director: Robert S. Mueller III.
The decision was announced Wednesday by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who along with Attorney General Sessions were key movers behind the removal of former FBI Director James Comey from his post.
“My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that prosecution is warranted,” Rosenstein said. “I have made no such determination.”
The announcement of Mueller as the special counsel comes after numerous bipartisan calls to investigate a number of Trump administration officials' ties to the Russian government and its associates — namely, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, campaign adviser Carter Page, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The calls for a special counsel were ratcheted up this week after intensifying scrutiny of the Trump campaign's handling of Comey's firing, especially a leaked memo seemingly asking for leniency in the Flynn investigation, and the president's revelation of classified information that reportedly compromises intelligence assets investigating the terrorist group ISIS.
As Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) said about Comey's removal:
“The Constitution vests the President with the authority to enforce the law, and that certainly means President Trump has the power to remove FBI Director Comey if he believes Mr. Comey has failed to demonstrate capacity and sound judgment. The President made that determination and both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General reached the same conclusion.”
It has also been widely determined that the president has the authority to declassify information “anytime he wants.”