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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Department of Justice is appointing a special counsel to investigate the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential election.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will head the special, independent counsel, according to the DOJ.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who penned the recommendation to fire former FBI Director James Comey, chose Mueller.
Mueller released a brief statement, which read, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
President Donald Trump followed up with a statement of his own.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo said the appointment is “a very positive development. It’s evidence the administration is taking this seriously.”
If past special counsel investigations are any indication – think Iran-Contra and Whitewater – this one could stray beyond Russia. It could force the president to release his tax returns, and could stretch on for years.
It will not impact congressional investigations into Trump and Russia, which will go on.
Interestingly, Mueller and Comey go way back. In 2004, the two teamed up to stop the Bush administration’s illegal extension of a domestic spying program put in place after 9/11.
Once again, their paths cross – history in the balance.
This comes the same day Trump took part in a commencement address to say he’s not being treated fairly – all this as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they want to hear from Comey.
The calls are growing louder for the FBI and White House to turn over anything related to conversations between Comey and the President.
The president offered words of encouragement to the Coast Guard Academy graduates in Connecticut.
“You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted but you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight,” said Trump.
It was President Trump’s first public appearance since the revelation of former FBI Director, James Comey’s memo, that claimed Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The president allegedly said, “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The White House responded, “the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation.”
Late Wednesday night, two big stories broke concerning Flynn.
One from the New York Times that the president knew Flynn was under federal investigation before the inauguration, and that Trump gave him the job anyway.
And number two from McClatchey that Flynn influenced U.S. policy that Turkey opposed, at the same time he was on that country’s payroll.
Earlier in the day, House Democrats called for an independent commission to investigate potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. They ended up getting it.
Some top GOP lawmakers say they remain confident in President Trump but are calling for all available evidence to the investigation.
A total of three congressional committees have formally requested the Comey memos plus any documents the White House might have detailing conversations between Comey and the president.
The Chairman of the House Oversight hopes to have Comey testify at a hearing next Wednesday.