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Independent investigation into Rice incident starts

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The independent investigation into the NFL's pursuit and handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident began Thursday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported according to a source involved in the process.

The league announced Wednesday night that former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III will conduct the investigation. The full statement released by the league is below:

"Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will conduct an independent investigation into the NFL's pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced tonight. Director Mueller's investigation will be overseen by NFL owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the final report will be made public.

"Mara and Rooney are both attorneys. Commissioner Goodell pledged that Director Mueller will have the full cooperation of NFL personnel and access to all NFL records. Mueller served as director of the FBI for 12 years (2001-2013) under two presidents. He is currently a partner in the law firm of WilmerHale and is based in Washington, DC."

The news comes after a tumultuous week which has included the release of a video that shows Rice punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday shortly after being released by the Baltimore Ravens. Rice was previously suspended two games on July 24 for violating the league's personal conduct policy for the same incident.

Mara and Rooney released a joint statement Thursday, saying they would support and assist Mueller.

"No timeline was established and we stressed that he should take as much time as necessary to complete a thorough investigation," the statement read. "We agreed that the scope of the investigation should be aimed at getting answers to specific questions, including what efforts were made by league staff to obtain the video of what took place inside the elevator and to determine whether, in fact, the video was ever delivered to someone at the league office, and if so, what happened to the video after it was delivered. ...

"Our sole motive here is to get the truth and then share Mr. Mueller's findings with the public."

According to The Associated Press, a law enforcement official says he sent a video of Rice punching Palmer to an NFL executive in April.

"We have no knowledge of this," the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. "We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it."

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