Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee the previously confirmed investigation of Russian efforts to influential the 2016 Presidential election and related matters.
"I have determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome," Rosenstein said in a statement.
The appointment comes as numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for a special counsel, colloquially known as a special prosecutor. Such calls increased in recent days after Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. On Tuesday, it was revealed the Comey had written a memo alleging that Mr. Trump had asked him to back off from investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Special counsels are given broad investigatory power and conduct much of their work in secret.
Mueller was appointed FBI director in 2001 and served in the position until 2013. FBI directors are appointed to ten-year terms, but President Barack Obama added two years to his tenure.
A career prosecutor and veteran of the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Mueller is a widely respected figure in Washington.
© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.