In a surprise announcement Wednesday, the Department of Justice has announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
The announcement follows huge pressure from Democrats to appoint a special counsel to look into a possible Trump/Russia connection and accusations yesterday that Trump may have obstructed an ongoing FBI investigation into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn by asking former FBI Director James Comey to “let it go.”
So who is Robert Mueller?
Here are five facts to get to know him better:
- Mueller was appointed as FBI director by George W. Bush just one month prior to September 11. He stayed on throughout Bush’s presidency and was asked to serve two additional years by President Obama. Mueller was replaced by James Comey at the end of this term in September 2013.
- His tenure as FBI Director was longer than anyone other than J. Edgar Hoover’s.
- Mueller is well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans. Rep. Jason Chaffetz called Mueller “great selection” with “impeccable credentials.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Mueller is,”a respected public servant of the highest integrity.”
- He earned a Purple Heart fighting in the Vietnam war.
- He is also not someone who rolls over for politicians as demonstrated by his reaction to the Bush Administration’s shenanigans. In 2004, the then-FBI director left dinner with his wife and daughter to rush to the hospital after then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey called him and told him Bush’s goon squad (White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card) were harassing Attorney General John Ashcroft while he was hospitalized. The goon squad was pissed off that Comey refused to reauthorize Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretap program. At the time Comey was acting AG while Ashcroft was laid up. When Mueller received the call from Comey, he ordered FBI agents stationed outside of the room to not allow anyone in the room, including White House officials, without his permission first–thus protecting Ashcroft from being taken advantage of (Read more detail about the hospital showdown from our friends at Wonkette).
In short, we are all pleased with Mueller being appointed today and congressional Democrats are cautiously optimistic as well. But it’s important to remember this is just the first step in a long process to get to the bottom of Trump’s alleged Russian ties.