Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in the face of rising pressure from Capitol Hill, named former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
The move followed a week in which the White House was thrown into uproar after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
“My decision (to appoint a special counsel) is not the finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination,” Rosenstein said.
“I determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” he added.
The once highly respected Rosenstein has come under withering criticism over his memo that Trump initially used as a reason to fire Comey.
Mueller, who led the FBI for 12 years, said in a statement tweeted by CBS News: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
Trump, whose anger over the allegations has grown in recent weeks, was only informed of the decision 30 minutes before it was announced.