Former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor probing Trump-Russian ties.

The Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the growing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to associates of President Trump.

By Federal Bureau of Investigation –, Public Domain

“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. I have made no such determination,” Rosenstein continued. “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.”

“I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” Mueller said Wednesday evening.

Trump reiterated in a statement after Mueller’s appointment that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, which “a thorough investigation” would confirm.

“I look forward to this matter concluding quickly,” the president said. “In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

Order 3915 2017 of Appointment of Special Counsel To Investigate Russian Interference

The appointment of Mueller — who is widely respected on both sides of the aisle comes after growing outcry, mostly from Democrats, amid fallout of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last week. While the White House initially insisted the dismissal was precipitated by Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails, Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision.

oriniginaly published on NPR.ORG