Robert Swan Mueller III born August 7, 1944 is an American attorney who served as the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 2001 to 2013. A conservative Republican, he was appointed by President George W. Bush; President Barack Obama gave his original ten-year term a two-year extension, making him the longest-serving FBI Director since J. Edgar Hoover. He is currently head of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters.
A graduate of Princeton University, Mueller served as a Marine Corps officer during the Vietnam War, receiving the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for heroism and the Purple Heart Medal. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law (1973), he worked at a private firm in San Francisco for three years until his appointment as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in the same city. Before his appointment as FBI Director, Mueller served as a United States Attorney, as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and as Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General.
In May 2017, Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as special counsel overseeing an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and related matters.
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On May 16, 2017, Mueller interviewed with President Trump to again serve as the Director of the FBI but was not hired. The next day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel for the United States Department of Justice. In this capacity, Mueller oversees the investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”.
Mueller’s appointment to oversee the investigation immediately garnered widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) stated, “former FBI dir. Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe”. Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives and prominent conservative political commentator, stated via Twitter that “Robert Mueller is a superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity.” Some, however, were quick to point out an alleged conflict of interest. “The federal code could not be clearer—Mueller is compromised by his apparent conflict of interest in being close with James Comey,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who first called for Mueller to step down over the summer, said in a statement to Fox News. “The appearance of a conflict is enough to put Mueller in violation of the code. … All of the revelations in recent weeks make the case stronger.”
Upon his appointment as Special Counsel, Mueller and two colleagues (former FBI agent Aaron Zebley and former assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force James L. Quarles III) resigned from WilmerHale. On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts announced they had declared Mueller ethically able to function as special counsel. The spokesperson for the special counsel is Peter Carr, who told NBC News that Mueller has taken an active role in managing the inquiry. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from supervision of Mueller, if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of James Comey.
On June 14, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Mueller’s office is also investigating President Trump personally for possible obstruction of justice, in reference to the Russian probe. The report was questioned by Trump’s legal team attorney Jay Sekulow, who said on June 18 on NBC’s Meet the Press, “The President is not and has not been under investigation for obstruction, period.” Due to the central role of the Trump family in the campaign, the transition, and the White House, the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is also under special scrutiny by Mueller. Also in June, Trump allegedly ordered the firing of Robert Mueller, but backed down when then-White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.
Mueller met his future wife, Ann Cabell Standish, at a high school party when they were 17. Standish attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, and Sarah Lawrence College, before working as a special-education teacher for children with learning disabilities. In September 1966, they married at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. One of their daughters was born with spina bifida.
In 2001, Mueller’s Senate confirmation hearings to head the FBI were delayed several months while he underwent treatment for prostate cancer. He was diagnosed in the fall of 2000, postponing being sworn in as FBI director until he received a good prognosis from his physician.
Although raised Presbyterian, he became an Episcopalian later in life.