Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Mueller Protection Bill Wins Bipartisan Support on Senate Panel

Mueller Protection Bill Wins Bipartisan Support on Senate Panel

After almost a year of calls for someone to codify protections for Mueller, and after reports that Trump has wanted to fire Mueller, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a bipartisan bill to protect the special counsel.

Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's probe a witch hunt and said Thursday morning that he "won't be involved" in the special counsel investigation, but added he may change his mind.

Grassley's revised amendment was drafted to attract more support for the measure - especially from those who, like Grassley himself, think that there may be potential constitutional concerns with the core provisions of the bill, which subject an executive decision to terminate a special counsel to judicial review.

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Under the bill, if special counsels are fired, they can appeal the action to a federal court, which could overrule the dismissal for lacking good cause.

The legislation has divided Republicans, pitting a handful of senators who believe in protecting Mueller against others who have leveled a variety of objections to the bill - including questions about its constitutionality and whether it is necessary.

Although legal experts say only Rosenstein can fire Mueller, because the Trump administration has publicly disagreed, a bipartisan team of senators responded by introducing the bill that advanced Thursday. Four Republicans voted yes: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of SC and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

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The vote sends a clear and bipartisan signal to the White House that at least some in Congress are prepared to act if Trump fires Mueller, who is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links between the Russian government and Trump's campaign. Mueller and his team are now interested in interviewing Trump to determine whether the president engaged in obstruction of justice.

The resolution "may be a way forward because it avoids the unconstitutionality issue on a bill that the president won't sign and the House won't pass", Cornyn said. One Republican who opposed the bill, Sen.

After the vote, the committee's top Democrat stepped up that effort. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, that would have essentially gutted the bill and replaced it with a symbolic show of support for Mueller's work. That included negotiating with Grassley, who floated an amendment that included increased reporting to Congress by the special counsel. Short said he couldn't rule it out in the long term, though, because it's not known "how far off this investigation is going to veer".

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