On Wednesday, the Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller III as Special Counsel, also referred to as a Special , to oversee the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mueller, a 72-year-0ld Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who served as Marines Corps officer and led a rifle platoon during Vietnam, was the FBI Director during the George W. Bush administration after being appointed in July 2001.
In a letter obtained by CNN, the appointment of Mueller was announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Amid controversy in March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any involvement in investigations into Russia due to his failure to disclose contacts he had with the Russian ambassador last year.
According to the letter, Rosenstein states that Mueller is “authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017.”
Comey was fired by President Donald Trump earlier this month.
The letter goes on to say that the investigation includes “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
It also adds that as Special Counsel, Mueller will be investigating “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” adding that if he deems it appropriate, Mueller is authorized to “prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation.”
Mueller was appointed by former President George W. Bush to lead the FBI on July 5, 2001, officially assuming the position on September 4, and helping turn the FBI into a counterterrorism and counterintelligence unit after the September 11, 2001 terror attack. In 2004, Mueller and then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey threatened to resign from their positions over then-President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. Both men stayed after Bush agreed to their terms.