Most Elected Officials Have Nothing But Praise For Robert Mueller

Mueller has bipartisan support for his new job as special counsel, even though some in Congress don't think that job is necessary.

Robert Mueller — AFP/Getty Images
May 18, 2017 at 12:50 PM ET

On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made something of a surprise announcement in appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any connections between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Mueller, who is familiar and well-regarded by both political parties, served as director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013. Mueller, 72, was replaced by James Comey, who Trump fired earlier this month while the former FBI director was continuing his Russia investigation.

“I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” Mueller said in a statement that the Washington Post called “characteristically terse,” noting that Mueller was known as a “stern and press-averse disciplinarian.”

Rosenstein, who is meeting with senators on Thursday to discuss Comey’s firing, was harshly criticized by Democrats for what they perceived as bowing to Trump’s will when he wrote the memo recommending the dismissal. But both Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel, and the person he chose to lead the probe, appears to have bipartisan support.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has long demanded a special prosecutor, expressed his satisfaction across three tweets.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Mueller a “respected public servant of the highest integrity” and his appointment a “first step.” But like many Democrats, she’s expressed reservations about whether he would be given all the necessary resources and independence to conduct his investigation.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein echoed Pelosi’s sentiments, calling the appointment a “good first step.”

“Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function,” she said. “He is respected, he is talented, and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate in her failed presidential bid, tweeted that he hoped Mueller would “get some answers.”

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the more right-leaning Democrats in the Senate, told CNN, “it is the right move and a great choice to put some confidence back.”

On the right, politicians were generally positive about Mueller, though the decision to appoint a special counsel generated mixed feelings, with most prominent Republicans having resisted the idea.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell simply said that Mueller’s appointment “confirms that the investigation into Russian intervention into our election will continue.” His counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that “thorough and independent investigations” were a priority to him, and Mueller’s appointment was “consistent with this goal.”

“I welcome his role at the Department of Justice,” Ryan added.

Arizona Sen. John McCain was more effusive about Mueller.

California Rep. Darrell Issa even went so far to say that he wanted a special prosecutor for months. Issa had originally called for a special prosecutor in February, only to take it back shortly afterwards. Issa said he has faith that Mueller would be able to conduct an independent investigation.

One of Issa’s California colleagues, Rep. Devin Nunes, the controversial head of the House Intelligence Committee who had to remove himself from its investigation into Trump, praised Mueller.

“Robert Mueller is a highly respected former FBI director who has tremendous integrity, and I’m confident he will lead a credible investigation,” Nunes said in a statement to the Fresno Bee.

And Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who would later say he didn’t see any evidence of a crime for Mueller to investigate in the first place, thought the choice of Mueller to lead it was a good one. Chaffetz has invited Comey to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week.

Even the White House said in a statement that it was “look[ing] forward” to Mueller’s investigation and the conclusion it expected he would reach.

“A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” Trump said in a statement. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

That was on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the most recent turn of events in a more characteristic style.

About two hours after his initial tweet, Trump deleted it and posted one with the correct spelling of the word “counsel.” Instead of praising Mueller, the president made reference to alleged “illegal acts” perpetrated by former President Barack Obama and Clinton.