Democratic lawmakers and a handful of Republicans are praising Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any potential ties between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russia.
Rosenstein made the appointment Wednesday evening, saying he “determined that it is in the public interest” to have Mueller, a 12-year veteran of the FBI, take over the bureau’s investigation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California called the decision “a good first step.”
“The appointment of Bob Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation is a good first step to get to the bottom of the many questions we have about Russian interference in our election and possible ties to the president. Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function. He is respected, he is talented and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) issued a statement saying:
“A special counsel is very much needed in this situation and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has done the right thing. Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia called it a “good move.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D) of California said it was “a necessary step forward.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee said in a statement:
“Knowing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein from his tenure in Baltimore, I think he made a solid choice in Mr. Mueller, and I commend him for putting our country and justice system first. I urge Mr. Mueller to follow the facts wherever they may lead — with integrity and independence.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D) said:
“I commend the Deapartment of Justice for taking the appropriate step of appointing a special counsel to investigate the Russian government’s efforts to interefere in the 2016 presidential election and any links to the Trump campaign. The issue of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials is extremely serious and the American people deserve answers.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut called the decision “the right move.”
Sen. Al Franken (D):
“I welcome Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel to lead the investigation into the Trump team’s ties to Russia, something I’ve repeatedly urged him to do. Appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller to the position is a necessary and important step that I’m hopeful will help restore public trust and result in a thorough and comprehensive investigation. And now that the Justice Department has rightly turned the reins of the investigation over to an independent special prosecutor, it is critical that former Director Mueller is given the resources he needs to get to the bottom of Russia’s attack on our democracy, without any interference from the Trump administration.”
Sen. Cory Booker’s (D) statement read:
“This is an important step in the right direction. We must get to the bottom of Russia’s dangerous and unprecedented interference in our election to hold accountable those responsible and ensure it doesn’t happen again — it’s a matter of national security. An independent special prosecutor is vital to that imperative.”
The move is a big win for Democratic lawmakers, who have repeatedly called for a special counsel to be appointed in the past. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Fox News that he didn’t think a special prosecutor was “a good idea,” in the aftermath of Trump’s dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey.
However, Republicans, including Ryan, are now supporting the decision.
Rep. Paul Ryan released a statement via Twitter saying:
“My priority has been to ensure thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facs wherever they may lead. That is what we’ve been doing here in the House. The addition of Robert Mueller as special counsel is consistent with this goal, and I welcome his role at the Department of Justice. The important ongoing bipartisan investigation in the House will also continue.”
Sen. Marco Rubio released a statement saying:
“Mr. Mueller is widely respected for his independence and professionalism. I have confidence that he will conduct a fair and thorough investigation. For the sake of the country, all parties must fully cooperate with his efforts that are focused on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This effort should in no way be allowed to impede the ability of the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct and conclude its investigation into the same subject. It is my hope that these investigations will now move expeditiously.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement read:
“The decision by the Deputy Attorney General to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel confirms that the investigation into Russian intervention into our election will continue, as stated last week by Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will also continue its investigation into this matter.”
Rep. John Conyers, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee said the appointment was “certainly appropriate.”
“Given the events of the past few months and the past few days in particular, the appointment of Director Mueller as special counsel is certainly appropriate. The Deputy Attorney General’s decision reflects the seriousness of the allegations against President Trump and his associates — and the degree to which the public had lost confidence in the political leadership of the Trump Administration on this matter. But let me be clear: the appointment of special counsel does not relieve Congress of its responsibility to conduct oversight of the Trump Administration. I am disappointed that Congress has taken precious few meaningful actions to investigate President Trump’s decision to fire Director Comey, the President’s admission that he did so because he did not like the Russia investigation, and reports that Trump tried to waive Director Comey off of the investigation altogether. I continue to stand with my colleagues on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in urging our chairmen to look into these matters without delay”
The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Commitee, Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner released a joint statement:
“The appointment of former FBI Director and respected lawyer Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation is a positive development and will provide some certainty for the American people that the investigation will proceed fairly and free of political influence. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will continue its own investigation and to the extent any deconfliction is required, we will engage with Director Mueller and our expectation is that he will engage with the Committee as well.”
More from Madeleine Sheehan Perkins:
- The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel investigating Trump — here’s how it works
- Obama says initially avoiding military action over Syria’s chemical weapons ‘required the most political courage’
- Washington Post reporter: White House ‘playing word games’ with its denial of Trump’s alleged classified-intel reveal
- Senator: If Russia is continuing to influence actions in the US, then ‘God save us all’
- A complete timeline of Trump’s years-long feud with Rosie O’Donnell
Special counsel is the right move. But will Trump, Sessions give Mueller the resources, latitude he needs? If past is prologue, watch out.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 17, 2017
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.