Bipartisan Senate duo urge Trump to let Mueller complete work
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of senators is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE to let special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE finish his probe into the 2016 election, saying it would be in his “best interest.”

“We urge President Trump to allow the Special Counsel to complete his work without impediment, which is in the best interest of the American people, the President, and our nation,” Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Orrin Hatch: Partisanship over Kavanaugh nomination 'dumbass' Kavanaugh tells senators Mueller’s appointment was appropriate: report MORE (R-N.C.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsGraham: Flynn should lose security clearance On The Money: Senators propose 'crushing' Russia sanctions | Trump calls for food stamp work requirements in farm bill | China tells US to 'chill' on trade | Apple hits trillion in value Let’s honor public service MORE (D-Del.) said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

They added that they have “heard from constituents ... who agree that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be able to conduct his investigation without interference. This should not be a partisan issue.”

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It’s unclear what prompted the senators' statement, which comes near the beginning of a two-week recess for Congress.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president's legal team, but not directly about the investigation, during Tuesday's White House press conference. 

A spokesperson for Coons didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked about the timing, a spokesman for Tillis said “no particular reason, Senators Tillis and Coons are simply reiterating their position on Special Counsel Mueller.”

Trump earlier this month began criticizing Mueller more directly.

In a tweet, he decried the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added ... does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!,” Trump wrote.

The White House has repeatedly denied that Trump is planning to fire 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 White House counsel threatened to resign. 

Senators have introduced two bills to limit Trump's ability to fire Mueller, but those proposals have stalled for months in the Judiciary Committee.

One proposed bill, from GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Flynn should lose security clearance Press needs to restore its credibility on FBI and Justice Department Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin MORE (S.C.) and Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats embracing socialism is dangerous for America Kavanaugh recommended against Clinton indictment in 1998: report Kavanaugh once said president would likely have to testify before grand jury if subpoenaed: report MORE (N.J.), would require a judge to approve a Justice Department request to fire Mueller or any other special counsel.

A second bill, from Tillis and Coons, would let Mueller or any special counsel challenge their firing in court.

Tillis and Coons added on Tuesday that they introduced their bill “because we believe that the American people should have confidence in the Department of Justice’s ability to conduct independent investigations and its commitment to the rule of law."”

But Republicans argue the legislation is not necessary and appear deeply skeptical that Trump would fire Mueller, who is widely respected in Washington. They've also raised questions about whether the bills are constitutional. 

Olivia Beavers contributed