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Department of Justice Announces Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to Oversee Russia Investigation

The Department of Justice has announced a special counsel to investigate Russian interference into last year’s presidential election.

In a statement, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that former FBI director Robert Mueller will “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters.”

The statement reads:

My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.

The announcement comes just one day after the explosive New York Times report which claims that fired FBI Director James Comey was told directly by Trump to stop the probe on former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn.

Tuesday, shortly after the Times report was published, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that she and her fellow House Democrats intended to demand a floor vote on an independent investigation into the Trump-Russia connection.

Even some House Republicans stepped up their criticism of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan said Wednesday that if the Times report proved to be true, it would constitute grounds for impeachment.

Full details of the independent probe have yet to be reported, but Business Insider filed a report last week detailing the etymology of the term.

A “special counsel” is a modern day term for a “special prosecutor,” according to Banks, and any investigation would likely use the term “special counsel.” The term “special prosecutor” was used up through the 1980s, after which the laws around special prosecutors expired and were not renewed, therefore retiring the term.

Prior to the election, Trump tweeted that he planned to instruct his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to “look into” the “situation” of his election rival Hillary Clinton.

For more, watch above, via ABC.

UPDATE –– 7:05 pm ET: NBC News is reporting that Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort “have emerged as key figures” in the Russia probe:

Officials say multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men during the past six months in the ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian attempts to influence the election, an inquiry that will now be overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

This post has been updated as new details have become available.

[image via screengrab]

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