The Justice Department has appointed former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Here are five things you need to know about the newly appointed special counsel.
1. He became director of the FBI a week before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001
Mueller, now 72, has said the tragedy shaped his 12-year career as FBI director.
“I had been a prosecutor before, so I anticipated spending time on public corruption cases and narcotics cases and bank robberies and the like,” he told NPR in 2013. “And Sept. 11 changed all of that.”
2. Mueller is well-regarded among both Democrats and Republicans
According to a 2001 Washington Post article, Mueller is a registered Republican, but “a striking number of people describe him as apolitical.”
He was first nominated to his FBI position in 2001 by President George W. Bush.
In 2011, President Barack Obama asked Congress to extend Mueller’s term by an extra two years, a rare exemption that Obama argued would give the government much-needed stability in a time of change.
The Senate voted unanimously to extend Mueller’s term until 2013, when he was replaced by James Comey.
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3. His pick as special counsel in the Trump-Russia probe has also earned widespread praise
Politicians on both sides of the aisle applauded the appointment.
Robert Mueller’s appointment is a positive step. I am hopeful that he will help us get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 17, 2017
Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual to serve as special counsel in the Russia investigation.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 17, 2017
Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 17, 2017
— Morning Edition (@MorningEdition) May 18, 2017
4. He threatened to resign from his position as FBI director — twice
In 2004, Mueller famously threatened to resign if then-President Bush reauthorized a wiretapping program Mueller believed to be illegal, according to The Washington Post. Bush ultimately caved, and the program was modified.
In 2006, Mueller threatened to resign again, this time amid the corruption investigation of William Jefferson, a Democratic representative from Louisiana. After the FBI conducted a raid on Jefferson’s office, Congressional leaders and White House officials accused the agency of violating the separation of powers.
White House aides ordered the FBI to return seized documents, and Mueller threatened to resign in protest. The White House eventually backed down and Mueller remained in his post.
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5. He’s a former Marine
Mueller was decorated for his service in the Marine Corps, which included a tour in Vietnam. He said in his 2013 commencement speech for the College of William and Mary that he decided to enlist after his college friend David Hackett was killed in Vietnam in 1967.