The US Department of Justice appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, an issue that has plunged the White House into a series of controversies and prompted calls from Democrats for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

US democracy is under assault, from Russia outside and Trump within, says former spy chief Clapper

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to the role, the Justice Department said in a statement. Mueller was FBI director between the years 2001 and 2013.

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“Based upon 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 the announcement.

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