Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is “probably the best possible choice” the Justice Department could have made for a special prosecutor to lead the investigation into Russian interference into last year’s presidential election and the possibility of collusion between Russian officials and the campaign of President Donald Trump, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Thursday.
Still, Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he remains unconvinced that Mueller’s appointment was necessary in the first place.
“Well, I don’t know that a special counsel was warranted at this point. I have not seen the direct, full evidence of an actual crime and I do believe that the career officials are true professionals,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview Thursday morning. “They’ve done a great job and they should be allowed to continue to do that job. But with that said I do think Director Mueller is probably the best possible choice they could have made.”
Mueller’s appointment was announced Wednesday evening by the Department of Justice, a decision made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing the Russia investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from it. The move was greeted warmly by Democrats, who had been calling for such an independent investigation for week, but got a chilly reception from the White House, which had long said such a separate probe was unnecessary.
Thursday morning, Trump called the independent investigation “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history” and complained that the administration of former President Barack Obama and the presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton, both of which the president accused of committing “illegal acts,” had never faced similar scrutiny.
Even with a newly-forming independent investigation, Chaffetz said he expects congressional inquiries into Russian election interference and possible collusion between Trump associates and the Kremlin to continue, even despite the possibility that the multiple probes could interfere with one another.
“Look, the House … has its own equities and interest in this,” he said. “Just because there is an investigation or work done at the Department of Justice doesn’t excuse the Congress from doing its own work and getting to the bottom of things. So that’s hardly an excuse that has worked in the past and it’s not going to work moving forward.”