Robert Swan Mueller III (born August 7, 1944) is an American lawyer and civil servant who was the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serving from September 4, 2001, to September 4, 2013. A Republican, he was appointed by President George W. Bush and his original ten-year term was extended by two years by President Barack Obama.
On May 17, 2017, Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
Mueller was born on August 7, 1944, in New York City. He is the son of Alice C. (née Truesdale) and Robert Swan Mueller.
Mueller is of German and English descent. His paternal great-grandfather Gustave A. Mueller was a prominent physician in Pittsburgh, whose father August C. E. Mueller had immigrated to the United States in 1855 from Pomerania, Germany. Mueller grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from St. Paul's School in 1962, where he was captain of the soccer, hockey, and lacrosse teams, and won the Gordon Medal as the School's top athlete in 1962.
He went on to study at Princeton University (receiving an A.B. in 1966), where he continued to play lacrosse; he has cited his teammate David Spencer Hackett's death in the Vietnam War as an influence on his decision to pursue military service. Hackett was a Marine Corps First Lieutenant in the infantry and was killed in 1967 by small arms fire. Mueller earned an M.A. in international relations from New York University in 1967 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973, where he served on the Virginia Law Review.
Mueller enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1968, attending officer candidate school, Army Ranger School and Army jump school. He then served as an officer leading a rifle platoon of the 3rd Marine Division during the Vietnam War; he eventually became aide-de-camp to 3rd Marine Division's commanding general. He received the Bronze Star, two Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
After receiving his law degree in 1973, Mueller worked as a litigator at the firm Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in San Francisco until 1976. He then served for 12 years in United States Attorney offices. He first worked in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where he rose to be chief of the criminal division, and in 1982, he moved to Boston to work in the office of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts as Assistant United States Attorney, where he investigated and prosecuted major financial fraud, terrorism and public corruption cases, as well as narcotics conspiracies and international money launderers.
After serving as a partner at the Boston law firm of Hill and Barlow, Mueller returned to government service. In 1989, he served in the United States Department of Justice as an assistant to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. The following year he took charge of its criminal division. During his tenure, he oversaw prosecutions that included Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie bombing) case, and the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. In 1991, he was elected a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
In 1993, Mueller became a partner at Boston's Hale and Dorr, specializing in white-collar crime litigation. He returned to public service in 1995 as senior litigator in the homicide section of the District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office. In 1998, Mueller was named U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California and held that position until 2001.
Mueller was nominated for the position of FBI Director by President George W. Bush on July 5, 2001.
At the time, he and two other candidates, Washington lawyer George J. Terwilliger III and veteran Chicago prosecutor and white-collar crime defense lawyer Dan Webb were up for the job, but Mueller was always considered the front runner. Terwilliger and Webb both pulled out from consideration around mid-June. Confirmation hearings for Mueller before the Senate Judiciary Committee were quickly set for July 30, only three days before his prostate cancer surgery. The vote on the Senate floor on August 2, 2001, passed unanimously, 98–0. He served as Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice for several months before officially becoming the FBI Director on September 4, 2001, just one week before the September 11 attacks against the United States.
Director Mueller, along with Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, threatened to resign from office in March 2004 if the White House overruled a Department of Justice finding that domestic wiretapping without a court warrant was unconstitutional. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft denied his consent to attempts by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to waive the Justice Department ruling and permit the domestic warrantless eavesdropping program to proceed. On March 12, 2004, President George W. Bush gave his support to changes in the program sufficient to satisfy the concerns of Mueller, Ashcroft and Comey.
In May 2011, President Obama asked Director Mueller to continue at the helm of the FBI for two additional years beyond his normal 10-year term, which was expiring on September 4, 2011. The Senate approved this request on July 27, 2011. On September 4, 2013, Mueller was replaced by James Comey.
After leaving the FBI in 2013, Mueller served a one-year term as consulting professor and the Arthur and Frank Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University where he focused on issues related to cyber-security.
In addition to his speaking and teaching roles, Mueller also joined the law firm WilmerHale as a partner in its Washington, D.C. office in 2014. Among other roles while at the firm, he oversaw the independent investigation into the NFL's conduct surrounding the video that appeared to show NFL player Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée. In January 2016, he was appointed as Settlement Master in the U.S. consumer litigation over the Volkswagen emissions scandal; as of May 11, 2017, the scandal has resulted in $11.2 billion in customer settlements. On October 19, 2016, Mueller began an external review of "security, personnel, and management processes and practices" at government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton after an employee was indicted for massive data theft from the National Security Agency. On April 6, 2017, he was appointed as Special Master for disbursement of $850 million and $125 million for automakers and consumers, respectively, affected by rupture-prone Takata airbags.
Mueller received the 2016 Thayer Award for public service from the United States Military Academy. He is scheduled in June to receive the 2017 Baker Award for intelligence and national security contributions from the nonprofit Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
On May 17, 2017, 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 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 Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated, "Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function." She added, "He is respected, he is talented and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing."
The appointment followed a series of events which included President Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey and "disclosure that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn." Upon his appointment as Special Counsel, he 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.
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