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Former FBI boss to lead Trump-Russia probe

May 18th, 2017 | Tags:
Robert Mueller (L) with his successor at the FBI James Comey, whose dismissal prompted calls for a wider investigation. Photo: Reuters
BBC NEWS

A former FBI boss has been named special counsel to oversee an inquiry into Russia's alleged meddling in the election and any Trump campaign ties.

In naming Robert Mueller, the deputy attorney general said it was in the public interest to have an outsider.

The appointment was widely endorsed by politicians from both sides.

In a tweet President Donald Trump described the situation as "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history".

He also questioned why his election opponent Hillary Clinton and his predecessor President Barack Obama had had not been investigated.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic] appointed," he wrote.

Calls for a special investigation had mounted since Mr Trump fired the most recent FBI director, James Comey, last week.

The announcement apparently took the White House by surprise, with Mr Trump only being informed of it after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had signed the order.

The FBI and Congress are looking into potential links between Mr Trump's campaign team and Russia. Mr Mueller will take over the FBI investigation.

US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip the election in favour of Mr Trump.

What's the background to this?

The White House has been engulfed in crisis following Mr Comey's abrupt dismissal and allegations that Mr Trump asked the ousted FBI chief to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser and Russia.

Mr Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia's ambassador before Mr Trump took office.

The White House has denied it put pressure on Mr Comey but the revelations fuelled Democratic claims that Mr Trump had tried to conceal his team's connection to Russia.

Mr Mueller, 72, served as FBI director for 12 years under Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama as the longest serving bureau chief since J Edgar Hoover.

He is expected to announce his resignation from a private law firm to avoid conflicts of interest.

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