WASHINGTON -- Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was recently named to lead a compensation fund for people harmed by faulty Takata airbags, was appointed special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow.
Mueller is expected to resign from the Takata role and it's unclear when a successor will be named.
In April, U.S. District Judge George Steeh selected Mueller to administer $850 million set aside for automakers that purchased defective airbags from Takata and another $125 million for consumers harmed or yet to be affected by them.
Mueller served as FBI director beginning shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks until 2013. He then went into private practice at the law firm WilmerHale. As part of his appointment to the special counsel role, Mueller resigned from the firm, in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, according to the Justice Department.
While at the firm, Mueller was also tapped to help lead settlement of U.S. litigation stemming from Volkswagen AG's diesel emissions violations.
The move by the Justice Department Thursday to appoint Mueller as special counsel followed a week in which the White House was thrown into an uproar amid rising demands by Democrats and some of Trump's fellow Republicans for an independent probe of whether Russia tried to sway the outcome of November's presidential election in favor of Trump and against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In a statement after the Justice Department announcement, Trump said he looked forward to a quick resolution of the matter.
"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity," he said.
Mueller, in a statement tweeted by CBS News said: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
Trump has long bristled at the notion that Russia played any role in his November election victory, but the Russia issue has clouded his early months in office. Moscow has denied U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion it meddled in the campaign.
Reuters contributed to this report.