Friday, 25 May, 2018

In Warning to Trump, Senators Advance Bill to Protect Mueller

Senate Judiciary Committee votes to bar Trump from firing Mueller Senate Draws Line in Sand to Protect Mueller Russia Investigation
Glenn Montgomery | 27 April, 2018, 00:54

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that is created to protect the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign and its ties to Russian Federation.

That bipartisan bill would define who is allowed to fire Mueller - or any future special counsel. Chris Coons, D-Del., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Graham and Tillis, and would codify Department of Justice regulations that say only a senior DOJ official can fire Mueller or another special counsel, according to The Hill.

A draft released by Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, on Wednesday night omitted language that would require the special counsel to notify congressional leaders "if there is any change made to the specific nature or scope" of the investigation. It appears the committee was able to reach a compromise after some Democratic lawmakers opposed that idea, anxious it would allow Congress to undermine Mueller's probe.

In effect, if a court determines the special counsel wasn't fired for "good cause", they would be reinstated.

"I believe this bill should be considered by the full Senate, and I think my amendment improves it", Grassley said.

Politicians have been considering protecting Mueller in light of increasing frustration signalled by Trump at developments in the probe that looks into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, and murmurings that he might get Mueller, its head, dismissed.

Despite the bipartisan vote, there's still no clear passage for the legislation to move forward beyond the Judiciary Committee. 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.

Some senators voted against the bill because they thought it was an unconstitutional infringement on executive branch power. It would require notification if a special counsel were removed.

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.

"Firing Mueller would cause a firestorm and bring the administration's agenda to a halt".

White House aides have said Trump doesn't intend to fire either Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's investigation.

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