Justice department names Robert Mueller as special counsel in Russia investigation

The former FBI director will now lead the investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
4:50 | 05/17/17

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Transcript for Justice department names Robert Mueller as special counsel in Russia investigation
with that breaking held line -- the white house wliendsided tonight as the department of justice reveals that they'll appoint a special counsel to now oversee the FBI investigation into Russian meddling and any possible collusion. Former FBI director Robert Mueller will now lead the investigation. Democrats and some Republicans had been calling for this move, the news coming just 4 hours after we learned that former FBI director James Comey who was fired by president trump kept notes about his meetings with the president. The department of justice saying just moments ago, a special counsel is necessary for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome Pierre Thomas leading us off. Reporter: Tonight a bombshell announcement -- the department of justice appoint onning a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia's interference with the 2016 election. Including possible collusion with the trump campaign. The man now leading the investigation, former FBI director Robert Mueller. He'll have all the authorities of a U.S. Attorney, including the ability to take the matter before a grand jury and the ability to issue subpoenas the announcement of a special counsel comes after attorney general Jeff sessions recused himself. Therefore, I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the trump campaign. Repter: President trump has called the investigation into possible collusion with members of his campaign a char raid. Former FBI director James Comey was in charge of the investigation until he was fired last week. Tonight's dramatic announcement coming after that other bombshell, 4 hours ago, the memo coming to light about president trump's meeting in the oval office in February raising concerns Mr. Trump allegedly wanted the FBI to go easy O former national security adviser Michael Flynn. A president who warned the FBI director after firing him that James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before leaking to the press. What we know according to sources is that memos do exist. James Comey had a documented history of keeping notes especially when it came to controversial matters. Tonight after it was revealed he wrote a memo saying the president pressured him to drop the Flynn investigation. Just as he documented his meeting in the oval office in February, one day after general Flynn resigned. President trump acollegedly asking vice president Mike pence and attorney general Jeff sessions to exit the room after a briefing leaving the president alone with the FBI director. According the now-I famous memo described by a source close to Comey, trump allegedly said I hope you can see your way of letting this go, he's a good guy. The president has been very clear that the account was published is not an accurate description of how the event occurred. Reporter: But sources close to Comey expect Comey will testify before congress and the American people and that his memos will be made available. Let's get to Pierre Thomas live in our Washington bureau. Pierre, back to this notion of a special counsel now, the FBI director James Comey fired just last week, he was leading this investigation. This means former FBI director Robert Mueller steps in, this question tonight, what does it mean? Does he start from scratch here? Reporter: David, it's totally at the decession of Mueller. He has 60 days to put together a team of lawyers to work with him on the case. A reminder about Mueller, after serving ten years as FBI director he was asked by president Obama to re-up ped. I want to get to Jonathan Karl tonight, you were telling me that the white house was blindsided. What have you learned tonight. Reporter: They were completely taken offguard by this. As a matter of fact, I'm told the senior staff of the white house didn't get word of this until 30 minutes before the news was shared with the news media. It shouldn't have taken all that much by surprise. Given the developments of the last few days. I'm starting to hear even from some Republicans on capitol hill, welcoming this news, including Jason Chaffetz, he said Mueller is a great selection, impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted. All right, 30 minutes' warning as you point out, Jon As you could imagine, this

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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