He was nominated as Federal Bureau of Investigation director under Republican President George W. Bush but stayed on for most of Democratic President Barack Obama's term.
"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump said in an on-the-record statement. Trump himself had already contradicted that explanation, telling interviewers earlier that he had already chose to dismiss Comey. Trump has tried to distance himself from Manafort with a variation of "new phone, who dat?", pretending that he barely had a cup of coffee with the campaign before being replaced by Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon.
"The entire thing has been a witch hunt", he declared, echoing one of the tweets he'd sent out just after dawn: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!".
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March after acknowledging undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, leaving the matter in Rosenstein's hands.
The position is different from an independent counsel, the role in which Ken Starr investigated Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s. These are titles that were established by law following Watergate, and they expired in 1999.
"We owe it to the American people to find out what happened, and I'm encouraged to see that the justice department has appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election", Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera said.
"My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted", Rosenstein wrote in a separate letter. "I have made no such determination". I have confidence that he will conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Trump rushed out a statement: "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly".
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the appointment. "There is nothing to comment on".
Supreme Court's Roberts: 'Uncertainty' sinks voter ID appeal
The removal of this key piece of legislation allowed the state to change its voter laws without first seeking federal approval. Republican leaders in the Tar Heel State had appealed to the nation's highest bench after a panel of the U.S.
Trump had been relatively quiet on Twitter over the prior two days, issuing only a handful of official announcements about meeting with a foreign leader, and delivering a commencement speech. Then speaker Paul Ryan responded: "This is an off the record ..." He is required to tell Congress when the probe concludes, but publicly revealing anything beyond that is up to Rosenstein's discretion.
Mueller's appointment has come as Trump fends off reports he shared U.S. secrets with Russian officials in the Oval Office, and had asked Comey to drop his investigation into former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
"Until we have seen the documents, until we have seen some more testimony, I think it is inappropriate to talk about any more conclusions", McCaskill said.
The White House did not know about the Mueller hiring until an hour before it went public. He's repeatedly panned both the FBI investigation and concurrent probes on Capitol Hill as a "hoax".
Tapped yesterday as the Justice Department's special prosecutor on Kremlingate, Mueller will have a broad mandate to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign" - plus, "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" - things like perjury and obstruction of justice. The independence of the investigation fell into question after the firing. Susan Collins, a Republican, also confirmed similar details revealed during the briefing. "Now let's get some answers".
Rosenstein's appointment of Mueller isn't likely to make Trump very happy.
Trump is both publicly and privately stewing about Rosenstein's decision to name a special counsel.
Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Mueller was a "great selection".
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