The Justice Department said Mueller has resigned from his job at a private law firm to take the job of special counsel.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File). Comey then walked up to Trump, who tried to hug Comey. Principal deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to Rosenstein's memo as the reason Trump fired Comey, saying that Comey had committed "atrocities" in overseeing the FBI's investigation of Clinton. Even his enemies, Trump declared, recognize his innocence.
Mr. Rosenstein, who has been overseeing the Russian Federation investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the role, is an appointee of Mr. Trump, but the White House was unaware of his decision to appoint the special counsel until minutes before the announcement was made.
Trump is leaving Friday for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, and aides had hoped the disarray at home would have been calmed if not resolved by take-off time. To avoid conflicts-of-interests, the independent counsel was appointed by a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Comey was sacked on May 9. Joe Lieberman was among his top choices. It says the president then told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he "faced great pressure because of Russian Federation".
News reports in recent days have indicated that Trump also previously asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, who quit his post in January after lying to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador after the election. He will have more power, more resources and the ability to focus like a laser on one investigation instead of having to run the entire FBI.
However another answer on that subject seemed both more specific and perhaps ambiguous.
The White House offered no opinion on the appointment but in a statement attributed to Trump repeated its assertion that there had been no collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians.
"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"
He said he respected the special counsel appointment but also said it "hurts our country terribly".
"If he is able to come in as a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, use the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that are already there, use the process that's already in the place, this will actually get to resolution much faster".
But Rosenstein's remarks to lawmakers suggested that what had been a "counterintelligence investigation" was now morphing into a criminal one, one senator said afterward. "Trump lies about things we can see". But when I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision.
It followed the revelation Tuesday that fired FBI director James Comey had written in a memo that Trump, in a February meeting in the Oval Office, had asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump wrote, misspelling the word counsel as he referred to Democratic former President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"If it moves forward expeditiously, the Trump administration can put this behind them at some point; three, four, five months from now, and still have a year before congressional elections", said Patterson. "Because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such awful things about Director Comey".
But that changed on Wednesday evening when Rosenstein announced that he had appointed another former FBI director, Robert Mueller, to conduct an independent investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign.