On May 17, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. In choosing Mueller to run the Russia probe, Rosenstein has in one fell swoop restored the independence of the Justice Department, tapping a man named to head the FBI by George W. Bush (which will quiet Republicans).
Mueller is James Comey without the drama, a straight-arrow Boy Scout who often favors gray suits, white shirts and red ties.
Mueller insures that no stone will be left unturned, having run both the bureau and overseen its counterintelligence operations as FBI chief. And as a former prosecutor himself, he knows how to run an investigation and still make the FBI jump (not everyone does). So this is a take-no-prisoners move by Rosenstein and a reminder of the old adage: be careful what you wish for. In going back to Mueller, Rosenstein has moved fast and chosen someone above reproach, above politics and who came through his run at the bureau with his reputation not only intact but enhanced.
Mueller, a former Marine decorated for his service in Vietnam, is a product of the Establishment, having attended St. Paul’s, Princeton, New York University and the University of Virginia. He has two postgraduate degrees and comes from the old-money crowd that is Trump’s cultural nemesis. In addition to running the FBI, he was No. 2 at the Justice Department and ran its criminal division as well.
His appointment will likely tap down any question of political interference from the Trump Administration.
This appears in the May 29, 2017 issue of TIME.