Bowing to mounting pressure, the Trump administration has appointed a former FBI director to lead an investigation into possible ties between the President’s election campaign and Russia.
The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel comes amid a growing Democratic outcry for someone outside the US Justice Department to handle the politically charged investigation.
Donald Trump said the inquiry will show there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and a foreign power.
“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 in a statement released by the White House.
“I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”
Mr Mueller, whose appointment was announced by the Justice Department, will look into alleged interference by Moscow in last year’s US election and any ties to the Trump campaign.
He will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he might uncover.
“I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” he said in a brief statement.
Sky News US Correspondent Amanda Walker said: “Democrats had been calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed. They wanted someone who wasn’t a Trump loyalist, and certainly a former FBI Director such as Robert Mueller will be regarded widely as fitting that bill.
“The fact we are now looking at a special prosecutor, who is widely regarded as an independent figure, to be leading this investigation will calm a lot of fears, particularly felt very strongly among Democrats at the moment.”
The New York Times reported this week that Mr Trump asked then-FBI chief James Comey to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia.
The newspaper and other reports cited a memo Mr Comey wrote immediately after the 14 February meeting.
The explosive report sparked calls for the President to be impeached.
On Wednesday, the embattled President said “no politician in history” has been “treated worse or more unfairly” than he has.
Speaking to new recruits at a coastguard graduation ceremony in New London, Connecticut, he quickly turned the focus on his recent difficulties.