Former N.O. FBI chief calls new special counsel a good choice - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Former N.O. FBI chief calls new special counsel a good choice

James Bernazzani, former FBI special agent-in-charge. (FOX 8 Photo) James Bernazzani, former FBI special agent-in-charge. (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

The former head of the FBI in New Orleans is praising the selection of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged ties between the Trump administration and Russia.

Jim Bernazzani, now a professor at Tulane, says Mueller has been a good friend to New Orleans and will take the investigation wherever the evidence leads.

The appointment of Mueller as special counsel came as a welcome surprise to many, including Bernazzani, who used to work for him.

"Great choice, best man at the best time, and nobody pushes him around," said Bernazzani.

But President Trump had a different opinion, taking to Twitter to call the selection of a special counsel "The single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history."

And some Republicans agree.

"I haven't seen any evidence of actual collusion. Where is the actual crime that they think they need a special prosecutor to prosecute?" asked Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Bernazzani said Mueller transformed the FBI into a top intelligence agency after 9/11, and he said his reputation is unquestioned.

"Director  Mueller is getting briefed right now and will become the smartest person in the room. He will follow facts and draw a conclusion," said Bernazzani.

Mueller's mission could be wide-ranging. His appointment comes as the Washington Post reports a statement made by House Majority Leader Kevin Macarthy last June: "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrbacher and Trump," he said, referring to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California and the president.

"I don't think he will sacrifice time for accommodation. He will play this out, pursue it doggedly, and when it ends it ends," said Bernazzani.

He said Mueller was in New Orleans after Katrina to assist the local FBI office that was flooded out, and whose employees lost loved ones and homes.

"He came down here many times and said to me, 'You remember one thing: Take care of people first, and your people will take care of the FBI mission,'" said Bernazzani.

Though many believe the special counsel will conduct a proper probe, some say there's still a need for more outside review.

"I am heartened by the news of Mr. Mueller's appointment, but in no way does it diminish the need for Congress to play an active role to get to the bottom of recent events," said Sen. Chuck Shumer, D-New York.

 But Bernazzani believes Mueller can handle the task at hand.

Mueller will use FBI resources to conduct his investigation. That agency still falls under the attorney general, who is appointed by the president. Some believe that could lead to meddling by the Trump administration. Bernazzani said if that were to occur, that would be "political suicide."

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