Justice Dept. to appoint special prosecutor for Russia probe

The Justice Department is appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Meeting the demands of Democratic lawmakers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the probe.

"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," Rosenstein said in a statement. "A special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the Public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly."

White House spokespeople have said they view the appointment of a special counsel as unnecessary.

Rosenstein made the decision as acting attorney general after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter due to his role in the Trump campaign.

Mueller has agreed to resign from his private law firm, Wilmer Hale, to pursue the probe, the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department statement shed little light on the ongoing probe, simply referring to it as "the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters."

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