Dems to top DOJ officials: Publicly promise not to interfere in Mueller's probe
© Greg Nash

Several Senate Democrats are urging top officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a public commitment that they will not interfere in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe, including refusing potential requests from the White House.

“We have significant concerns that the president or his White House could order individuals at the Department of Justice with the authority to oversee Special Counsel Mueller’s probe to interfere with the probe or shut it down," they wrote in letters dated March 7 but released publicly on Tuesday.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Senators 'deeply troubled' military lawyers being used for immigration cases Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE (Vt.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration MORE (Ill.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon Whitehouse6 months in, GOP tax bill an utter flop Live coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report GAO to look into Trump's reduction of carbon social costs MORE (R.I.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Children should not be human shields against immigration enforcement The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington MORE (Calif.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill All the times Horowitz contradicted Wray — but nobody seemed to notice Hillicon Valley: Trump hits China with massive tech tariffs | Facebook meets with GOP leaders over bias allegations | Judge sends Manafort to jail ahead of trial | AT&T completes Time Warner purchase MORE (Del.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDem senator: If Nielsen doesn't reunite families, 'she should resign' Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Fourth Senate Dem calls for Nielsen to resign over family separation policy MORE (Hawaii), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy To strengthen our democracy, we need to remove obstacles that keep students from voting Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRaces to watch in Tuesday’s primaries Angus King: Congress shouldn't abolish ICE, should 'absolutely' examine it Kamala Harris: Trump's treatment of migrants is 'a crime against humanity' MORE (Calif.) signed the letters.

The senators said they were sending the letters to individuals who are in the line of succession if Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDOJ delivers Russia probe documents to Congress Scrutiny ramps up over Commerce secretary's stock moves Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report MORE "were to either resign or be removed."


Identical copies went to Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert Higdon and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

The senators are asking the DOJ officials to provide a written and public commitment to refuse to interfere in Mueller's investigation, which centers around Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collision between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

"As such, we ask that you publicly commit to refuse any order or request – whether express or implied – to interfere in the Special Counsel’s investigation, including but not limited to firing Mr. Mueller, cutting off funding or resources, limiting staffing, or inhibiting his ability to follow the facts wherever they may lead and hold those accountable who may have broken the law," they wrote.

The public release of the letter comes the same day Coons and GOP Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration MORE (N.C.) said in a joint statement that it was in Trump's "best interest" to let Mueller's probe continue unimpeded.

Senators have introduced two bills that would limit Trump's ability to fire Mueller unilaterally. But Republicans argue legislation isn't needed because they do not believe the president will actually fire the former FBI director, who is widely respected in Washington.

The Trump administration has repeatedly denied that the president is considering firing Mueller. But The New York Times reported earlier this year that he ordered staff to fire him in mid-2017, before ultimately backing down when his general counsel threatened to resign.