The Department of Justice has tapped Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election. Mueller’s selection was announced Wednesday evening and comes from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Here’s everything you need to know about Mueller.
Former FBI Director
Mueller served as the FBI director for 12 years. He was nominated and confirmed to the position in 2001. FBI directors traditionally only serve for 10 years, but President Barack Obama asked Mueller to remain for an additional two years. In 2013, he was replaced by James Comey.
Following his FBI career, Mueller joined the private law firm WilmerHale.
Mueller was nominated by a Republican president and is a registered Republican. However, he is not considered a political figure by his peers.
Mueller is a military veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He enlisted following his graduation from Princeton. In an interview with the University of Virginia School of Law, Mueller said his decision was inspired by a close friend.
“I have been very lucky,” he said. “I always felt I should spend some time paying it back. One of the reasons I went into the Marine Corps was because we lost a very good friend, a Marine in Vietnam, who was a year ahead of me at Princeton. There were a number of us who felt we should follow his example and at least go into the service. And it flows from there.”
He left the Marine Corps after earning a Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and two Navy commendation medals.
Mueller once threatened to resign as director of the FBI.
In 2004, the Justice Department ruled that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional. Mueller and then Deputy Attorney General James Comey threatened to resign if President Bush overruled the Justice Department’s finding.
The Washington Post reports that in March 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft was in intensive care, and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card Jr. had planned to convince him to continue with the program.
“The sickbed visit was the start of a dramatic showdown between the White House and the Justice Department in early 2004 that, according to Comey, was resolved only when Bush overruled Gonzales and Card,” The Washington Post reported. “But that was not before Ashcroft, Comey, Mueller and their aides prepared a mass resignation, Comey said. The domestic spying by the National Security Agency continued for several weeks without Justice approval, he said.”
Ultimately, President Bush upheld the Justice Department’s conclusion.
Since then, Mueller has tended to defend domestic surveillance programs and has not embraced the notion that civil liberties have been compromised.
“Do we exchange information in ways we did not before? Absolutely,” Mueller told CNN in 2013. “You can say that that is a — to the extent that you exchange information between CIA, FBI, NSA and the like — you could characterize that as somehow giving up liberties. But the fact of the matter is, it’s understandable and absolutely necessary if you want to protect the security of the United States. ”
Mueller is a Popular Pick
The selection of Mueller as special counsel has received widespread praise.
House Republican Jason Chaffetz praised the pick on Twitter.
Democrats have also reacted positively. Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier said on CNN on Wednesday that the choice is “remarkable” and that Mueller has an “impeccable” background. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said that Mueller is as good a pick as Democrats could possibly hope for.
Senator Bernie Sanders said that Mueller’s appointment is a positive step.