A group of bipartisan Senators have drafted a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired. The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act would ensure that Mueller could only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has no intention of bringing the bill to the floor.
President Trump had indicated an inclination for dismissing Mueller and ending the Russia investigation he is overseeing.
“I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he’s going to,” McConnell said. “So this is a piece of legislation that isn’t necessary in my judgment. I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.”
Not everyone agrees with McConnell’s position. Democratic Senator Chris Coons from Delaware said he would still seek a mark-up on the bill in the Judiciary Committee. “I don’t know from where Leader McConnell gets his confidence Trump will not take action to interfere with this investigation,” Coons said. “Given the number of times in recent days the President has tweeted or spoken directly or indirectly in ways that I think threaten the investigation led by Special Counsel Mueller.”
“I’m focused on making sure we get to a mark-up on the Judiciary Committee next Thursday and that we’re in a place for it to get passed the Judiciary Committee,” he added.
Democratic Minority Senate leader, Chuck Schumer agreed with Coons. “While I’m glad the majority leader believes the President would be wrong to fire Special Counsel Mueller, it’s a mistake not to pass legislation to protect the investigation,” he said.
“We ought to head off a constitutional crisis at the pass, rather than waiting until it’s too late…I hope the Judiciary Committee moves forward with a bill, and that members of Senator McConnell’s caucus push him to reconsider,” Schumer added.
Trump raised the specter of firing Mueller after the President’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his offices and hotel room raided by investigators last week. They were reportedly looking for evidence about the suppression of “potential sources of negative publicity” in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.
Recently it has come to light that Cohen paid an adult film actress $130,000 to remain quiet about an alleged affair the woman had with President Trump in 2006.
Top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California said it was still important to pass a bill out of the committee even if McConnel has no intention of calling a full vote on it.
“If a bill came out of the Judiciary Committee with the votes, and I don’t know that it would, but it seems to me that bill is there,” Feinstein said. “And depending on circumstances regardless of if he would put it on at a certain time, it would be there. And that accomplishes something.”
The Senators supporting the legislation have until next Thursday to submit it to the Judiciary Committee.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr