Illinois Democrats applaud decision to appoint special counsel in Russia investigation


David Fishman/Daily Senior Staffer

President Donald Trump at an event celebrating his victory last year. The Department of Justice on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia investigation.

Kristina Karisch, Assistant City Editor

Illinois Democrats applauded a decision Wednesday by the Department of Justice to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special council to oversee an investigation into possible Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

“I have the highest regard for (Mueller’s) integrity and intelligence,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tweeted Wednesday. “He is an excellent choice to serve as special counsel investigating the criminal aspects of Russian meddling in our presidential election.”

The appointment follows bipartisan calls for a more independent investigation into President Donald Trump’s potential ties to Russia. It also comes after the president dismissed former FBI Director James Comey. In a letter last week, Trump said he agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that the Russia investigation would yield no evidence of wrongdoing.

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

Tension continued to build Tuesday after the New York Times reported that Trump had asked Comey to back off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The information comes from a memo allegedly authored by Comey in which he details a private, Oval Office conversation with the president.

Flynn resigned in February after various news outlets reported him misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his contact with a Russian ambassador.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the president told Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) on Wednesday released a statement in which she described the appointment of Mueller as “a long overdue step.”

“The appointment of a special counsel is an important first step towards understanding exactly how far the Russian interference into our election went, and whether President Trump and his associates were willful participants in the meddling,” Schakowsky said in the statement.

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Twitter: @kristinakarisch