The U.S. Justice Department has named a special counsel to investigate whether Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign worked together to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will oversee the investigation of “Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 election and related matters.”
Trump said Wednesday the independent investigation will show, in his words, “there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the appointment. He said, "I have determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome" of the investigation.
Mueller served as FBI director under both Republican and Democratic presidents. He led the agency from 2001 to 2013, before ousted director James Comey.
President Trump fired Comey last week.
A small but growing number of Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in calling for an independent investigation into possible ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Reaction from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers about Mueller's appointment was positive.
Mueller’s investigation would be separate from the ongoing investigations by the FBI and several Congressional committees.
The calls for an independent and non-political appointment have grown following Comey’s dismissal. And news reports Tuesday said that Comey wrote a memo describing a meeting he had with President Trump in February. In the memo, Comey reportedly wrote that Trump asked him to stop the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.
Three Republican-led congressional committees have said they want Comey to answer questions about the memo. Lawmakers also want the FBI to hand over any notes that Comey left about discussions he had with White House officials on the Russia investigation.
Congressional investigators are also asking for documents from the Justice Department related to the firing.
Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street Wednesday, as investors worried about how the latest problems in Washington could affect Trump’s plans for the economy.
I’m Anne Ball.
counsel - n. a lawyer who represents a person or group in a court of law
collusion - n. secret cooperation for an illegal or dishonest purpose
entity - n. something that exists by itself
outcome - n. something that happens as a result of an activity or process
memo - n. a usually brief written message from one person or department in an organization, company, etc., to another