Politics

How to Investigate an Administration: Breaking Down the 3 Independent Options

DOJ appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel for Russia inquiry

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, seen here in 2013 with Virginia Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte on Capitol Hill, has been appointed special counsel for the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Between congressional committees and the FBI, there are at least five ongoing investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Calls from Congress for at least one form of independent review appear to have been answered Wednesday evening when the Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel for the probe. 

The three independent options each have advantages and drawbacks. And they are frequently not exclusive paths — from Watergate to Whitewater, major executive scandals have been investigated simultaneously by congressional select committees and a special, independent counsel working within the DOJ. 

Here's a detailed look at the three options, with a timeline highlighting instances of each type of investigation since Watergate:

 

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