Robert "Bob" 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 from 2001 to 2013. A Republican, he was appointed by President George W. Bush and his original ten-year term was given a two-year extension by President Barack Obama, making him the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover. He is currently head of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
A graduate of Princeton University, Mueller served as a Marine Corps officer during the Vietnam War, receiving the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for heroism and the Purple Heart Medal. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973, he worked at a private firm in San Francisco for three years until his appointment as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the same city. Prior to his appointment as FBI Director, Mueller served as a United States Attorney, as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and as Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General.
In May 2017, Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as special counsel overseeing an ongoing investigation into alleged foreign electoral intervention by Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Early life and education
Mueller was born at Doctors Hospital in Manhattan, the first child of Alice C. Truesdale (1920–2007) and Robert Swan Mueller Jr. (1916–2007). He has four younger sisters: Susan, Sandra, Joan and Patricia. His father was an executive with DuPont and had served in the Navy during World War II.
Mueller is of German, English and Scottish descent. His paternal great-grandfather, Gustave A. Mueller, was a prominent physician in Pittsburgh, whose father August C. E. Müller had immigrated to the United States in 1855 from the Province of Pomerania in Prussia (now Germany and Poland). On his mother's side, he is a great-grandson of the railroad executive William Truesdale.
Mueller grew up outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1962, he graduated from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, 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 politics with a senior thesis on jurisdiction in the South West Africa cases in 1966. Mueller continued to play lacrosse at Princeton, and has cited his teammate David Spencer Hackett's death in the Vietnam War as an influence on his decision to pursue military service. Of his classmate, Mueller has said, "One of the reasons I went into the Marine Corps was because we lost a very good friend, a Marine in Vietnam, who was a year ahead of me at Princeton. There were a number of us who felt we should follow his example and at least go into the service. And it flows from there." Hackett was a Marine Corps first lieutenant in the infantry and was killed in 1967 in Quảng Trị Province, by small arms fire. Mueller earned an M.A. in international relations from New York University in 1967 before pursuing his Juris Doctor degree. In 1973, after a period of military service, he graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the Virginia Law Review.
In July 1968, he was sent to South Vietnam where he served as a rifle platoon leader with Second Platoon, H Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. In December 1968, he earned the Bronze Star with 'V' distinction for combat valor for rescuing a wounded Marine under enemy fire during an ambush that saw half of his platoon become casualties. Mueller eventually became aide-de-camp to 3rd Marine Division's commanding general, General William K. Jones. In April 1969, he received an enemy gunshot wound in the thigh, recovered, and returned to lead his platoon until June 1969. For his service in and during the Vietnam War, his military decorations and awards include: the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Purple Heart Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat "V", Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three 3⁄16" bronze stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Parachutist Badge.
Reflecting on his service in Vietnam, Mueller said “I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have made it out of Vietnam. There were many— many—who did not. And perhaps because I did survive Vietnam, I have always felt compelled to contribute.”
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 and as acting deputy Attorney General. James Baker, with whom he worked on national security matters, said he had "...an appreciation for the Constitution and the rule of law." 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 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, while confirmation hearings for Mueller before the Senate Judiciary Committee were quickly set for July 30, only three days before his prostate cancer surgery.
The confirmation vote on the Senate floor on August 2, 2001, was unanimous, 98–0. He had served as acting deputy attorney- general of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) 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 homeland.
In March 2004, Mueller and deputy attorney general James Comey, threatened the Bush administration with their resignations if the White House overruled the DOJ finding that the domestic wiretapping under the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) was unconstitutional, if such were done without a court warrant. On March 10, 2004, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft was being visited by his wife as he was treated in the intensive care unit at the George Washington University Hospital. They were joined there by Mueller and Comey, and shortly afterward, by Jack Goldsmith of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel and Patrick Philbrin. None of them wanted the TSP reauthorized. After the quartet's arrival, Ashcroft refused to give his consent to an extension of the program, despite being pressured at the hospital soon afterward by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. They were requesting that he waive the DOJ ruling and permit the domestic warrantless eavesdropping program to continue beyond its imminent expiration. He additionally informed the pair that due to his illness, he had delegated his powers as USAG to Comey. On March 12, 2004, after meeting alone and individually with Mueller and Comey at the White House, the president gave his support to changes in the program sufficient to satisfy the concerns of Mueller, Ashcroft and Comey.
As director, Mueller barred personnel from the FBI from participating with the CIA in enhanced interrogations. At a dinner, Mueller defended an attorney (Thomas Wilner) who had been attacked for his role in defending Kuwaiti detainees, standing up, raising his glass and saying "I toast Tom Wilner. He's doing what an American should." When Bush confronted Mueller about the perception his agency was failing to round up more terrorists in the U.S., Mueller responded saying about possible suspects, "If they don't commit a crime, it would be difficult to identify and isolate" them. Vice President Dick Cheney objected, castigating Mueller thus: "That's just not good enough. We're hearing this too much from the FBI."
In May 2011, President Barack Obama asked Mueller to continue at the helm of the FBI for two additional years beyond his normal 10-year term, which would have expired on September 4, 2011. The Senate approved this request on July 27, 2011. On September 4, 2013, Mueller was replaced by James Comey.
On June 19, 2017, in the case of Arar v. Ashcroft, Mueller, along with Ashcroft and former Immigration and Naturalization Services Commissioner James W. Ziglar and others, was shielded from civil liability by the Supreme Court for post-9/11 detention of Muslims under policies then brought into place.
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 cybersecurity.
In addition to his speaking and teaching roles, Mueller also joined the law firm WilmerHale as a partner in its Washington office in 2014. Among other roles 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. In June, 2017, he received the Baker Award for intelligence and national security contributions from the nonprofit Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
2017 appointment as special counsel
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 Rob Portman (R-OH) stated, "former FBI dir. Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe”.
Upon his appointment as Special Counsel, Mueller 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. The spokesperson for the special counsel is Peter Carr, who told NBC News that Mueller has taken an active role in managing the inquiry. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from supervision of Mueller, if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of James Comey.
On June 14, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Mueller's office is also investigating President Trump personally for possible obstruction of justice, in reference to the Russian probe. The report was questioned by Trump's legal team attorney Jay Sekulow, who said on June 18 on NBC's Meet the Press, "The President is not and has not been under investigation for obstruction, period." Due to the central role in the family, the campaign, the transition, and the White House, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was under special scrutiny by Mueller.
During a discussion about national security at the Aspen security conference, on July 21, 2017, former CIA director John Brennan reaffirmed his support for Mueller and called for members of Congress to resist if Trump fires Mueller. He also said it was “the obligation of some executive-branch officials to refuse to carry out some of these orders that, again, are inconsistent with what this country is all about.” After the firing of Peter Strzok, a central investigator for Mueller, for alleged partiality (bias), Senator Mark Warner, the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a speech on December 20, 2017 before the Senate warned of a constitutional crisis if the President fired Mueller.
On October 30, 2017, Mueller filed charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. The 12 charges include conspiracy to launder money, violations of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and conspiracy against the United States.
On December 1, 2017, Mueller reached a plea agreement with former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to giving false testimony to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. As part of Flynn’s negotiations, his son, Michael G. Flynn, is not expected to be charged, and Flynn is prepared to testify that high level officials on Trump's team directed him to make contact with the Russians.
Mueller met his future wife, Ann Cabell Standish, at a high school party when they were 17. Standish attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, and Sarah Lawrence College, before working as a special-education teacher for children with learning disabilities. In September 1966, they married at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. One of their daughters was born with spina bifida.
In 2001, Mueller's Senate confirmation hearings to head the FBI were delayed several months while he underwent treatment for prostate cancer. He was diagnosed in the fall of 2000, postponing being sworn in as FBI director until he received a good prognosis from his physician.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Swan Mueller III.|
- Profile at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and staff
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Robert Mueller on Charlie Rose
- Robert Mueller on IMDb
- Works by or about Robert Mueller in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- "Robert Mueller collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
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|Awards and achievements|
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