Move raises the stakes in a cri­sis threat­en­ing to paral­yse pres­i­dency

New Straits Times - - News -


AFRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

AN­NIKA, For­mer Dan­ish sex worker

FOR­MER Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion chief was tasked on Wed­nes­day with lead­ing a beefed-up in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s team col­luded with Rus­sia to tilt last year’s elec­tion in his favour.

Trump re­sponded by once again deny­ing any links to Moscow, but the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel with sweep­ing pow­ers dra­mat­i­cally raises the stakes in a cri­sis threat­en­ing to paral­yse his pres­i­dency.

The Repub­li­can leader, who has strug­gled to shake off sus­pi­cions that Rus­sia helped put him in the White House, has been ac­cused of seek­ing to block the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by sack­ing FBI chief James Comey.

Un­der pres­sure to pro­vide guar­an­tees to Congress and the pub­lic that the Rus­sia probe will con­tinue un­hin­dered, Deputy At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein tapped Robert Mueller — a widely re­spected fig­ure who headed the FBI for the decade af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks — to take over the reins.

“Based on 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,” Rosen­stein said in a state­ment.

A New York-born Viet­nam War vet­eran, 72-year-old Mueller has a rep­u­ta­tion as a tough law­man who once even stood up to a pres­i­dent.

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