Fmr. FBI director Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel in Russia investigation

Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
22:59 | 05/17/17

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Transcript for Fmr. FBI director Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel in Russia investigation
Hey guys on in the buys here continuing coverage of the breaking news Department of Justice officials. Have just announced that Bob Mueller the former FBI director will be that special counsel. To look into possible at RI Russian interference and that when he sixteen. Presidential election this is of course a separate investigation. From the congressional investigations from the ongoing FBI investigation. We're gonna break down what this means for all of those moving forward joining me in Washington ABC's political director Rick Klein break this. Basically fixes a problem that the Department of Justice had the the appointment of Bob Mueller. To run this investigation. What does this do for them and the future of that grow. This takes the heat off of rot rows and side is going to be on Capitol Hill tomorrow talking to senators about this and would have been under enormous pressure to explain. How can you actually be independent. In putting this board when the FBI director himself was just fired it says. That he was had pressure put on him by the president's United States at this takes that pressure off. But there's a lot of reasons that this does not solve any political problems for Republicans on what level they could say well special counsel is taking care of it. On another level take a look at that the details here Moeller has sixty days just come up with a budget. That is a slow time line and that means this story's going to be around for a long time. And the history of these special counsels are such as you heard Cokie Roberts say. These things and go on and they take on a life of their own what's they have their own budget once they gather momentum. They don't you can't or cannot control where they go. At the end of the day the recommendation will go to rob rose and sign as the the deputy attorney general in this case supervising this investigation there are so many different refusals and different layers to this you can't imagine a more. Politically difficult situation but this is going to be very hard for anyone in the trump White House to control and he when the Justice Department to control and that's gonna last for quite some time. And Cokie Roberts also with us now Cokie put this into perspective for us just a little bit just a few months into mr. trump presidency. He got a special counsel now in independent investigator. Looking into possible collusion looking into what role Russia actually played in the election how big a deal it's a very big deal. At a special counsel. Can go anywhere he has the power to. Bring indictments and and convene grand juries and those are stories as those things emerged and and also this particular special counts are Robert Mueller. Is a highly highly respected individual in Washington a former marine a former. A prosecutor and then of course director of the FBI for twelve years even though it's a ten year term. He was given two extra years because of the response to nine elevenths and he was given as to actually used by a voter not. So you know he is someone that is has impeccable credentials and he also knows a great deal about. The whole threat universe that was his biggest concern when he left the FBI that's when he talked about what keeps him up at night. Is concerns about terrorism so he knows the role that Russia has been playing in the world and and doesn't have a name rose colored glasses on that so this is going to be a very very difficult thing. And there's no reason to things that just because there has been some unnamed. At the Justice Department that the congress will stop its it's in queries and now maybe they'll be a lot of pressured to do that. But deadly. They'll also be pressure from the other side to keep it up. And cookies you mentioned that he comes in with impeccable credentials Jason she fixed. Chairman of the house oversight committee has tweeted in response to the naming of mr. Mahler echoing exactly those sentiments are this is sure to be met with bipartisan support that you have to treat Muller is a great selection of impeccable credentials. Should be. Widely accepted and rake in Roger Rosen signs justification in the letter. Explaining his decision to appoint mr. Mueller he specifically said a special counsel is necessary. In order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome but this cannot be good news. For the White House because Sean Spicer city exactly the opposite just a few days ago when asked about the special prosecutor special counsel. It's the right turn there he said I think frankly a special prosecutor is not necessary. And if that's big part because his boss the president United States is night and further he has said that this is a taxpayer funded hoax. And that is the committee should sorry that the work should just get wrapped up very quickly they have been very clear they think there's no there there are so of course they wouldn't see a need for special counsel. And critically taking. This amount of leverage outside of the chain of command. That makes it very difficult to put any kind of controls on what happens even though they'll be. Approval of budgets and an approval of the final recommendations. By the council this puts all the pressure on rows and side to follow suit and it's deliver everything. And remember the context here. Just 24 hours ago on the we learned that. Teams call me had had written a memo saying that he had been told by president from suggested by president that he'd find a way to drop the investigation against Michael Flynn that's the Russian investigation so. The fact that the White House is now being accused of putting pressure on the FBI director. Puts all the more pressure on the people that are now running this investigation to figure out what actually happens a lot of folks are interest in getting to the bottom of this but this will not speed up the process and it will not have the White House comfortable at all with this Hillary. Coakley talks much about how this story is developing quickly how things are moving dairy Athens very very fast paced but it's been building. This to this decision it was just a few days ago there are some senior former intelligence officials testifying. Who seemed to say look we didn't happen we've we've never thought that it special counselor as a prosecutor. It's a good idea what general Hayden actually called extraordinary measures like that I don't tend to support but they were all saying we think that in this case. Things might be a little different so what they're really no choice for the department there was no. Our choice. On the part of an honorable Justice Department and and Ryan rose the scene understood that he wanted to maintain his honor. He had come into that job was all kinds of kudos from people on Capitol Hill and then he wrote that letter. About the firing of James Conley and lost his credibility and so that was a real problem for him Jeff Sessions already. Was out of the mix and so rose's name is really in a position where he had to do something once this memo. About commonly as saying that the president had tried to shut them for an investigation became public. And of course that's why it became public on you know. He believed for a reason and one of the reasons that they leak isn't and they think that things are not going the way it's supposed to be going. In following the law. And therefore they push they superiors and to some position where they have to do something but. You know another thing that keep in mind here is as you look at the congressional reaction. Is they will respond. In some more and some part in large part it. Depending on how popular they think the president and is and that makes a tremendous difference so for instance was Richard Nixon. In January. Of 1973. When the in his henchmen and G. Gordon Liddy in. And a James McCord were convicted at that point he had as 70% approval rating in the post. Then there conviction happens in and the stories more stories come out and his top aides are Haldeman and Ehrlichman are forced to resign and he fires his lawyer John Dean. And his approval ratings dropped to about 44%. And then as the year wears on and that Watergate hearings which were watched by 80% of the American people. Go on and special prosecutors there the president's the bottom falls out. And the president. Doesn't have any support and at that point he doesn't mean support in congress either so the Republicans in congress feel very free to oppose the president. Just the opposite happened with Bill Clinton. When the Monica Lewinsky. As scandal was revealed in early 1998. His approval ratings were over 60% and they stayed there. And so the congress basically backed off the Democrats in congress date varies. What if I haven't even though in the initial days after that scandal was revealed they were all talking privately about Al Gore becoming president. And and that changed because the public supported the president. What Donald Trump has to worry about here is what the public decides to do. We know his voters are very keen but what about the rest of the country. As a today his. Average approval rating is about 40%. We have to see what happens there because of it if it goes down as a result of these revelations. You gonna see the Republicans on Capitol Hill running for the hills. Well and Rick to Sunday grew we've already seen the Republicans on Capitol Hill back off just a little bay even in the last 24 hours in terms of there. Public or whole hearted. Support for mr. trump it's a reminder to that there are ongoing investigations that women hate from Capitol Hill into exactly this so. How does the appointment of the special counsel change the strategy for congressional Republicans moving forward. There's been a sea change in Republican reactions I just over the last week. Starting with the the bombshell revelations that started to roll in last week after the firing. A game's only in the meeting with the Russians in the Oval Office that revelation from Sally Yates about the warning its Michael went. All of that sparked a week's worth of reaction that has changed the tone changed tenors you mention a Republican reaction. It's gonna take a lot of pressure off off Republicans on the hill because now they're able to say. The special council that's already up and running that decision's been made vacant supporter oppose rob rose inside decision but that piece of itself does the other option about a special prosecutor's going through congress. That would've been a heck of a debate it is to try to get through so this takes off. That piece. But there's still have the congressional and and we have now multiple Senate Committees that are inviting James Kobe to testify we presume to those we'll forward these those investigations are not impacted by what the FBI what the Justice Department does. So they'll look court order room we may hear from James only as early as next week. We have at least three committees that are asking to see the memos that he wrote so they still have a lot to sort out but it away. It feels to be the congress is now that it be positioned to take in more of a leading edge role because of the time line. Of the special counsel we're talking about months before they can really seriously day in on this unclear Robert always gonna keep the same staff assigned if he's looked to have new people involved. And how how quickly he can pick up the investigation in the middle of the stream. It well congress has been on this for some time so I think people are gonna look to Capitol Hill for answers even though it's a short term relief. I don't know that Republicans on the Hiller going to be happy with his news in the medium to long term. You know Cokie mentioned how president trouble have to remain cognizant of how the public perceive this of where things are going and how. Information is being received by them. But he's also got to remain cognizant of what's happening in and the law enforcement agencies and in this investigation and all the others that are ongoing he's never been shy. About speaking hot against institutions. Even ones that are meant to repaid independent that presidents don't typically. Speak about. If he disagrees and what he thinks they're doing do you think that this sets up another possible quote unquote and Amy for the president moving us. Sure absolutely and and I think that is going to be very. Difficult. For the people around him to convince him not to go on the attack. I I suspected the tweets will be arriving in momentarily. And I think this adds that could be a very difficult problem form now what he has a reason for doing that it does rally. The people around him who are feeling like he's their guy heat came in to talk for the people who. Voices have not been heard in Washington. And here is Washington out to get him and that is very much feeling. Many of trump supporters and that and I think that this will just add to that. On the other hand there are plenty of other people who. Our Jess you're not at all sure where they are in this whole story and we'll beam unsettled by the fact that. That the president is actually under investigation by serious person. And I just want to bring up that letter we reference earlier rod Rosen sign we've been this case acting attorney general because. The actual attorney general Jeff Sessions has recuse himself from all these matters but. This is the actual appointment of special counsel. That you're seeing there and it's also worth noting here is as both Cokie and Rick have mentioned that we've heard again and again this is going to take some time this process mr. Mueller has sixty days to just put together a plan a budget and resources. X that are Ricky mention this is not going away anytime soon it we've heard these investigations can take. Several months at a time depending on where they go in for stats. This is still a president in office the facility administration. Is trying to govern he's of how to go on his first. Foreign trip and it's a big one and how does this affect their day to day business. Let's interest and I met with senior official over the White House today to talk about this trip and they seem to have blinders on about what's about the company feel like. This is a major moment under the best of circumstances the quietness of times in the domestic front what he's about to do. Is audacious travelling to Saudi Arabia give a speech the Muslim world traveling to Jerusalem traveling to to the Vatican the seat to these three major world religions. And trying to have to solve Middle East peace kind of hard to do even if you aren't. With with distractions surrounding you and the White House view audiences that they can do this that this is a chance to reset. The agenda and in turn the page a bit and they hope that they'll receive well overseas but. There's no way they conduct these headlines and particularly the the pace of that the stories development over the last couple of days the weaknesses developed in the minute by minute news cycle with these big. Be huge developments happening late in the day every day like clock work. This is hard for a White House and adjusted they really need a quiet period and it doesn't seem likely that they're gonna get it even when they're in the air to Saudi Arabia. And Cokie when he's on that trip he's going to be keeping up with the headlines but as he's actually trying to get things done he's got them high level meetings coming up. He's meeting with the leaders both of the Palestinian Authority and with Abbas also. Winds that he has paley president of course Bibi Netanyahu he and he's he's going to have things that he wants to get done. How does he enjoy the confidence. Some of these world leader is not to mention all the NATO leaders are going to be meeting with as well. How does he continue to do business if they are concerned he's undermines. Back home. Focus other presidents have been in that position and and some of them have been in that position. And so the waited that generally is handled is that everybody pretends it's not happening hunt but. But again. The question is can down trying to pretend it's not happening can he focus. While he is abroad. On what he is planning to do is there me he talked about it and grandparents. At the coast guard academy. And meeting with the leaders of major religions in reaching out to them and all of that. And he can keep focused on that then this this will play out here and he will do what he does there. But that's a problem for this virus that is very difficult for him to did you stay on message and whether. He is able to do that while he is in Saudi Arabia and in Jerusalem or in Rome is a very big question. Rick I got to ask you about the other name we're hearing about so much rob rose inside we talked about him a little bit. All of them are crafts that mr. Mueller will make his budget is re sources his team all of those things will as I understand it go through. Mr. Rosen who will be the acting attorney general overseeing or at least for this. Part of the special counsel's. Launching at his investigation. Is there a cloud hanging over him now as he spoke about earlier after that letter was written justifying the fiery. FBI Director General coney. It are there questions that people Democrats perhaps others could ask about his motivation or he's influenced. Over what should be an independent investigation. Man does his jobs being perfect mind. On the why he is in charge of this in the first place the reason is. That attorney general Jeff Sessions met several times during the campaign with the Russian ambassador the CN ambassador by the way. That met in the Oval Office with president trump the day after James Colby was fires out try to follow all of the different strands of this and then. Brought Rosen sign is he writes a letter to the attorney general within ratifies the will the letter sends it on to the White House president trump takes those letters as justification for the firing of gains only so roses by this so wrapped up in every piece of this story. It's hard to imagine how he stays above the fray as I mentioned will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow briefing all 100 senators on the situation involving James homey. But imagine the situation he'll be in now. How can he possibly say no to anything that Bob Lawler recommends to choose him as the special counsel. This fairly unimpeachable former FBI director who has bipartisan respect and support. In Washington he's gonna come forward with request I don't know how this can be effective oversight or veto power. On the part of the deputy attorney general who's actually. His attorney general on this in this in this instance there are so many complications that landed those signs the war and yes his ability to oversee this is compromised by its actions in this case. Even though we know privately he was taken aback by the way it was put out a lot of folks feel like it best he was used. At worst he knew that he was being used Alice James called me last week. Cokie I want to ask you about some of those members of congress who of course going to be watching. This very very closely. Not just for their own interests but for their political futures. As well look when we look back we know that there are a number of Democrats who are basically saying. That eight in over the fine pastor resign if he doesn't. Appoint a special council officially in late of the letter he wrote justifying the firing of a FBI Director General believe they're happen Republicans. Calling for a special counsel as well among them senator Lisa Murkowski representative Adam can singer representative Steve night. And senator Shelly Moore can PO. Do you think that more Republicans will now feel emboldened. To speak out. About what they may have had private concerns about in the past because a special counsel is now in place. I think that they will. And do it Rick said it did that they'll be quite views say okay. Now there is a special counsel let's get on to tax reform. And and not worry about this message anymore. And I I do think that I actually think Rick that allowed residents suns probably happy that he's fifty is not able to exercise much influence over Mallard of the circumstances. Wash his hands in his hands avid to. Now let me let Mahler deal with this is that was going to be the response of an awful lot of people. Washington and now but. The Democrats aren't gonna let ago and they don't have any power. That they can make a lot of noise and and they can make their colleagues life a little bit difficult. And I do think that the Intelligence Committees are in somewhat different place from the oversight committees Judiciary Committee. So they want to know what's going on in terms of slash story because it's a serious story in terms of our own safety is an ancient. I think we're getting some more reaction coming in now from some of those members of congress at this. From senator Richard Blumenthal who just weeded special counsel appointment is a welcome development now must ensure re sources. And independence which of course injure or you'll be watching very closely but raking and Cokie I want to ask you about the fact that when none of this happens. In the vacuum and thinking back to just earlier today. Our colleague Rebecca Jarvis has reporting on the markets today in the Dow today closed at close to 400 points down. Part of its due to the uncertainties surrounding the president's answer growing. Uncertainty over the last couple of days she described it as a market on edge and one of the things that come up again and again is that. Any big shift one way or the other. New revelations new breaking news reports the appointment of a special counsel could shift back confidence. Even more. Which I just love to get your thoughts on how we think some of this might resonate outside of political circles. I don't understand politics enough to be if you notice that the markets but if you're bedding. Financially on the reaction to Donald Trump. I think you should be committed to a silent on anyone who thinks they know where this is going. Given how how not to speak in just the last feeder ninety's. I shouldn't be trusted with my money or anyone else's money so I whatever happens with with the -- 8880 is it is a tense time in Washington it's a tense time in the country we don't know where this is headed. And this is a a challenge to the fabric of the government. This is. This is not a small matter where this is how the constitution. He operates this is about that the balance of powers the separation of powers the checks and balances all of these things are on the line right now so. To my mind the 401K agencies scored almost secondary to the stakes of this of this particular episode. Go to your. I'll some food before Rihanna again. What love live leverage Ali. Tell is that markets don't like uncertainty in this this this whole seven advances certainly and produces a sense of uncertainty here. And also. That is a big hope among a lot of people with money that the Republicans would bring in a period of little regulation and low taxes and now they're worried that might not happen as the president's. It's the president's now racist. Cokie Roberts for Klein thank you so much for your time. To be with thanks on the thanks all of you as well you can always good abcnews.com. And there is the latest news happening right now on world news tonight we back here with more hi mom and math.

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