Maine’s congressional delegation offered solid support for the decision by the U.S. Justice Department to appoint former FBI Director  Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the highly charged investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Calling the pick “an excellent choice,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Mueller “has sterling credentials and is above reproach.”

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King said the selection of Mueller is “an encouraging step forward.”

Both King and Collins, each of whom serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the panel’s own probe into Russia’s attempt to influence the American presidential election must go forward.

“This investigation will be broader than the special counsel’s charge, and it is important that we continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead,” Collins said.

King added that he is “committed to working with Mr. Mueller to ensure that the committee’s investigation can work in parallel with that of the Department of Justice.”

All four of Maine’s federal lawmakers — Collins, King and U.S. Reps. Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree — issued written statements in the hours after the announcement that Mueller would serve as special counsel.

Poliquin, a Republican from the 2nd District, said it is “important that our investigative agencies can maintain impartiality in conducting their business,” something he’s convinced Mueller can achieve.

“Let’s let the facts lead us where they will,” Poliquin said.

King said that Mueller “has before him a serious and solemn charge, which will require him to operate in an independent manner, beholden to nothing but the facts – wherever they may lead.”

“It is my expectation, and that of the American people, that he will meet this obligation readily, because the consequences for our country are immense,” King said.

Collins said that given Mueller’s experience heading the FBI for more than a decade, he “has established relationships with FBI agents and will be able to move forward quickly. He is well respected on both sides of the aisle and will inspire public confidence in the investigation.”

Pingree said it is “reassuring to see the Department of Justice respond to the crisis embroiling the investigation into President Trump’s Russian ties.”

However, the 1st District Democrat said Mueller’s appointment isn’t enough.

“In order to have full confidence in the investigation, we need an independent commission that cannot be dismissed by the president,” Pingree said.

In this June 19, 2013, photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. On May 17, 2017, the Justice Department said is appointing Mueller as special counsel to oversee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.


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