Donald Trump has said the decision to appoint a special counsel to
oversee the inquiry into Russian influence on his election is hurting
US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip November’s
presidential election in favour of Mr Trump.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that former Trump aide Michael
Flynn told his transition team at the beginning of January - earlier
than was previously thought - that he was under federal investigation
for working as a paid lobbyist during the election campaign.
Mr Trump appointed Mr Flynn as his national security adviser weeks later
despite the warning, but he was sacked after just 24 days.
In his statement announcing Mr Mueller’s appointment, Mr Rosenstein
said: "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."
The circumstances are not just unusual, they are unprecedented.
There have never been such grave allegations of electoral meddling by a
foreign power in a US presidential election.
Then again there has never been a president quite like Donald Trump.
Now the Russia story enters a new, more serious phase. Robert Mueller
has a sterling reputation in Washington, DC. He worked with Mr Comey
when the latter served as deputy attorney general in George W Bush’s
administration. He understands pressure-cooker politics and knows how to
navigate the corridors of power.