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'Bobby Three Sticks' Mueller to probe Russia-Trump imbroglio
20 May 2017, 09:27 | Terri Saunders
The House Oversight Committee is inviting Comey to testify
Comey said he had found out that White House chief of staff Andrew Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales were headed to Ashcroft's hospital room to get the sick attorney general to OK the program.
Rosenstein, who was already scheduled to brief senators Thursday, had come under fire from Democrats for drafting the memo that was initially said to be the precipitating factor for Comey's firing, though Trump later said he would have fired Comey either way. Manafort is Trump's former campaign chairman, and has been an important focus of the US investigation of Trump's associates and Russian Federation.
Rosenstein, who at his confirmation hearing would not commit to a special counsel appointment and who inherited the probe following Sessions' recusal, seemed to acknowledge the public outcry by calling Mueller's selection "necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome". "I have made no such determination". The appointment seemed meant to quell mounting questions about the Justice Department's ability to independently oversee the investigation. But he'll have a lot of power all the same - and is probably nearly literally the last person Trump would want in the job. Comey gave Fitzgerald complete discretion to conduct the investigation, bolstering the special counsel's independence.
But while the two terms are often used interchangeably in the media - and, more confusingly, by members of Congress who should know better - they're not quite the same thing.
The move also met bipartisan approval - or at least acceptance - on Capitol Hill, where even Republicans who had resisted the call for a special prosecutor lauded Mueller. The role was to investigate and prosecute - in a court of law - possible violations of federal law by high-level officials.
Subsequent attorneys general have also named special prosecutors, but from within the department under other rules.
Under that law, only the attorney general had the authority to request that the panel appoint a special prosecutor.
"How can you subpoena somebody to come to Congress when they're under criminal investigation?" During his tenure, Mueller helped turn the FBI from a criminal investigative bureau into a counterterrorism and counterintelligence unit. Special counsels can be fired only by the "personal action" of the attorney general.
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In other words, the special counsel is far, far less independent than the earlier version was.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) recused himself from that panel's Russian Federation probe after he was accused of coordinating the investigation with the White House.
"My priority has been to ensure thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead". But congressional investigators must take pains not to bump heads with the FBI's inquiry.
"His appointment will help reestablish public confidence that the FBI investigation into the Russian active measures campaign during the presidential election and any involvement of USA persons will be thorough and any prosecutorial decisions that result are based on sound and independent judgment", Schiff said in a statement.
And if Mueller finds enough evidence, he can seek an indictment against the suspect or suspects from a federal grand jury.
Fitzgerald indicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
"Rather, their mission is to gather all of the relevant facts and determine whether a crime was committed and, if so, whether it can be proved in court beyond a reasonable doubt", Zeidenberg wrote.
The White House initially said the decision was motivated by Comey's mishandling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails - but Trump himself undercut that explanation by saying he always meant to fire Comey and that his decision was linked to the Russian Federation probe.
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