Robert Mueller, who was announced late Wednesday afternoon as the special counsel to spearhead the FBI‘s investigation into Russian connections to the 2016 election “and related matters,” has a long history within the organization.
He served as the FBI director from Sept. 2001 until Sept. 2013, directly preceding James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump last week.
Mueller and Comey worked together in the past: The two were together during the dramatic hospital showdown in 2004 when they wanted to stop then-Attorney General John Ashcroft from reauthorizing then-President George Bush‘s domestic surveillance program. Comey testified about the incident in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, and it is widely cited as an example of Comey’s political independence.
Mueller was nominated to run the FBI by Bush and Mueller assumed the position on Sept. 4, 2001, seven days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
When he left the bureau and his position was assumed by Comey, who was appointed by then-President Barack Obama, Mueller shared kind words about his successor.
“I have had the opportunity to work with Jim for a number of years in the Department of Justice, and I have found him to be a man of honesty, dedication and integrity. His experience, his judgment, and his strong sense of duty will benefit not only the Bureau, but the country as a whole,” Mueller said at the announcement ceremony in the White House’s rose garden.
Mueller has been back in the spotlight more recently, too.
According to his profile on the FBI website, he served in the marine corps and was a part of the rifle platoon in Vietnam. His profile says that he has received the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation medals, and a Purple Heart.
He went to Princeton University for his undergraduate degree and the University of Virginia for law school after his military service.
Mueller worked as a litigator in San Francisco before working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California’s Northern District and later in Boston where he worked as Assistant U.S. Attorney, according to the FBI profile.
He later returned to U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco before being nominated for his job at the FBI.
The Department of Justice reports that Mueller is resigning from his law firm in order to avoid any conflicts of interest with firm clients or attorneys.