Senate Committee Expected To Vote On Mueller Protection Bill

by Antonio Miles April 27, 2018, 0:51
Senate Committee Expected To Vote On Mueller Protection Bill

Legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired advanced through a Senate committee on Thursday.

The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act - a combined version of two previously-introduced Senate bills created to protect Mueller's investigation - was introduced earlier this month. Four Republicans, however, voted in favor: Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a prominent Trump detractor who will not run for re-election this year, Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Democrats said they were alarmed at an initial draft of Grassley's amendment - which would have required the attorney general to report to Congress about changes to the special counsel's scope - would open up the investigation to potential political interference.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed Durbin's comments, saying in a statement that following President Donald Trump's comments on Thursday regarding the special counsel's investigation, "it's become even more of an imperative that Leader McConnell put this bill on the Senate floor for a vote immediately". The designation, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by The Associated Press, has raised questions about what legal threat Trump personally faces from the special counsel and whether it has any impact on his decision to sit for an interview with prosecutors.

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The lawmakers also approved an amendment Grassley crafted that would require Congress to be notified when a special counsel is appointed or removed as well as provide a report when an investigation concludes. Further, it would only allow the special counsel to be terminated for "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause".

Trump reportedly considered firing Mueller at least twice a year ago. All the Democrats on the committee supported the measure. Both senators voted against it in committee. But supporters of the legislation say its mere consideration in committee will send an important message to Trump that firing Mueller or his overseers at the Justice Department would spark a fierce backlash on Capitol Hill.

The seven Republicans are: Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), who voted down the measure during Thursday's panel vote, told IJR that the bill picks an "unnecessary fight with the president" and that he's confident McConnell won't bring it to the floor.

For now, the move is largely symbolic, given McConnell's opposition, but it shows the complexity of Republican support for Trump when it comes to the president's attacks on Mueller.

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