Yesterday it was revealed that Robert Mueller had been appointed special counsel by the Justice Department, in order to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia and potential inappropriate efforts to cover up those ties. But if Mueller’s name sounds familiar, there’s a reason; he’s one of the most respected people in law enforcement, has stood up to Presidents, and completely changed the face of the FBI. Here are a few of the key things to know about him.
— The most important story about Robert Mueller comes from his time as director of the FBI, where he stood up to the Bush administration and won. The Justice Department had ruled that the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program was unconstitutional. John Ashcroft, Attorney General at the time, was ill, and the White House tried to pull an end run around Mueller and James Comey, acting Attorney General at the time, sending Bush’s counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and chief of staff Andrew Card to his bed to reauthorize the program. Mueller and Comey beat them there and told Ashcroft they’d both resign if he reauthorized the program despite its lack of Constitutionality. Ashcroft, so ill he could barely speak, refused to sign the documents.
— Robert Mueller is apolitical, nonpartisan, and willing to put himself on the line. Mueller is a dedicated public servant, and for many, the only surprise is how he came back to government service, not that he came back at all.
— He’s a Vietnam War-era Marine; holds degrees from Princeton, New York University and the University of Virginia School of Law; and has spent more than forty years as both lawman and litigator. But his government service is the most notable, starting in 1976. Mueller started working for the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, specializing in criminal prosecutions, a job he was so good at he became head of the criminal division. In 1982, he was promoted to Assistant United States District Attorney.