Mueller Protection Bill Passes Judiciary Committee (Audio)

27 April, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Diane Mills

In a bipartisan vote Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller amid growing concerns he is going rogue in a probe President Donald Trump insists is little more than a "witch hunt".

"The Senate Judiciary Committee is right to draw a line in the sand to protect Special Counsel Mueller's Russian Federation investigation", she declared, "and now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must put his country before his party and allow the full Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation".

But the committee's 14-7 vote to approve the measure still provides a symbolic message that the Senate would not tolerate Mueller's firing.

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.

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. A handful of Republicans have supported it, but most have opposed it, arguing that it is unconstitutional or unnecessary.

Four Republicans joined with 10 Democrat senators to ensure the proposal's success, with noted anti-Trump Sen.

The vote marked the first time lawmakers advanced legislation to protect Mueller as he investigates potential Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

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The committee voted against another amendment, proposed by Sen.

Two Republicans and two Democrats introduced the bill earlier this month as Trump ramped up criticism of the special counsel.

Democrats also held out hope that the bipartisan committee vote Thursday would persuade McConnell, who said last week that the bill was "not necessary", to change his mind.

Some senators have said advancing the measure could become an insurance policy - and perhaps the starting point for a congressional response - if Trump defies their advice and acts to fire Mueller.

But Cornyn, the number two Republican in the senate, made a stark prediction "This bill will not be taken up on the Senate floor". Even if it were passed by the Senate, the bill would then need to pass the House, where several key Republicans have been vocal critics of Mueller's probe, and Trump would need to sign it. The revised Grassley amendment released Wednesday evening dropped a section that would have required the special counsel's office to report to Congress if the scope of the investigation changed while it was ongoing.

It's in Trump's interest to not fire Mueller because the investigation will likely vindicate him, Hatch suggested. "It's about the rule of law", Graham said Thursday.



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