(CNN)In the early 1990s, Robert Mueller had just left one of the most powerful posts in America’s criminal justice system: assistant attorney general for the criminal division of the Department of Justice. Taking his experience into private practice, he was making well into six figures at a high-profile Washington law firm. Then he made a surprising call to Eric Holder, who was at the time the US attorney for Washington.
“He asked me if I could use a homicide prosecutor in my office,” Holder recalled during a speech honoring Mueller, thinking that he was going to suggest a colleague. But to Holder’s surprise Mueller was suggesting himself. Despite warning Mueller that he was significantly over-qualified and there would be no way to match his salary, Holder’s response was quick: “When can you start?”