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Congress welcomes Robert Mueller as special counsel, some more enthusiastically than others

 (Associated Press / AFP/Getty Images)
(Associated Press / AFP/Getty Images)

Reaction in Congress was lopsided over the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the election and possible links to President Trump's campaign, as Democrats welcomed the inquiry and Republicans gave lukewarm support.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the appointment late Wednesday "very much needed."

Schumer said Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein did "the right thing" by naming Mueller to the job.

But Republicans, who have preferred to keep the investigation relegated to congressional committees, were less enthused and slower to react. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the appointment "confirms that the investigation into Russian intervention into our election will continue."

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said: "My priority has been to ensure thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead.... The addition of Robert Mueller as special counsel is consistent with this goal."

Mueller is a widely praised figure on Capitol Hill, having served as the FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, with backing from both sides of the aisle.

"It’s fine. I just don’t think there is any need for it," said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who blamed the interest in Trump's potential dealings with the Russians on "a rabid press corps and a very intense Democratic Party."  

"I am satisfied there is nothing there. If there is something there, I am sure they will find it. But you don’t need Mueller to do that," King said.

Other Republicans, though, said the appointment was needed.

"For the sake of the country, all parties must fully cooperate with his efforts," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who has repeatedly pressed for an independent committee to investigate, said, “A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last."

"He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump administration’s meddling," Pelosi said.  

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