Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Senators craft bill to protect Mueller

AS TRUMP FUMES:Two Republicans and two Democrats were yesterday scheduled to introduce a bill to give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek a review if fired


A bipartisan group of four senators is moving to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job as US President Donald Trump publicly muses about firing him.

Republican senators Thom Tillis and Lindsey Graham and Democratic senators Chris Coons and Cory Booker planned to introduce legislation yesterday that would give any special counsel a 10-day window in which he or she could seek expedited judicial review of a firing, according to two people familiar with the legislation. They were not authorized to discuss the bill ahead of its release and requested anonymity.

The legislation, which combines two bipartisan bills introduced last summer, signals escalating concerns in the US Congress as Trump has fumed about a FBI raid on Monday of the office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Trump has privately pondered firing US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and publicly criticized Mueller and his Russia probe.

In addition to investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Mueller is also examining whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice.

As the investigation has worn on, Trump has repeatedly called it a “witch hunt.”

On Monday, after the Cohen raid, he said it was “an attack on our country.”

The raid was overseen by the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan and was based in part on a referral from Mueller, said Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s lawyer.

After introducing similar bills in August last year, when Trump first began criticizing the Mueller probe, Tillis and Graham had been quiet for months on whether the legislation was still needed as Democrats continued to push for a bill.

The two Republicans said they did not think Trump would really move to fire Mueller, but they moved to push out a new, combined bill in the hours after Trump’s tirade.

Under the legislation, the expedited review would determine whether the special counsel was fired for good cause. The bill would also ensure that any staff, documents and other investigation materials were preserved as the matter was pending.

It is unclear if it could ever become law. Such legislation is unlikely to move through the House of Representatives, and many Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday still expressed confidence that Trump would not fire the special counsel.

“I don’t think he’s going to be removed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “I think he’ll be allowed to finish his job.”

Still, senators have publicly and privately let the White House know that firing Mueller would be a mistake, the No. 2 Republican, Senator John Cornyn, said.

“There would be serious repercussions,” Senator Bob Corker said. “I’ve shared with the president what a massive mistake it would be for him to do this. I’ve done that in person.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday said on Fox Business News: “It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller. The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”

Democratic leaders have pushed for Republicans to move legislation to protect Mueller.

“Stand up and say what the president is doing is wrong,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “Make it clear that firing Mueller or interfering in his investigation crosses a red line.”

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