McConnell: Mueller needs 'no protection' from Trump

McConnell: Mueller needs 'no protection' from Trump
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Exclusive: Bannon says Rosenstein could be fired 'very shortly' MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday shot down taking up legislation to block the Trump administration from unilaterally firing Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, saying the special counsel isn't under threat. 

"My understanding is there's no effort underway to undermine or to remove the special counsel. Therefore, I don't see the need to bring up legislation to protect someone who appears to need no protection," McConnell told reporters.

Asked what would happen if Trump tried to fire Mueller, McConnell said the question is a "hypothetical" and "as of right now I'm unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel." 

The New York Times reported late last week that Trump in June tried to fire Mueller — who is investigating the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow — but was stopped after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign. 

Democrats have latched onto the report, arguing it underscores the need for legislation protecting Mueller's job. 

GOP Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Overnight Defense: Over 500 amendments proposed for defense bill | Measures address transgender troops, Yemen war | Trump taps acting VA chief as permanent secretary Trump to nominate acting VA secretary to lead department MORE (N.C.) and Democratic Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews Congress, Trump eye new agency to invest in projects overseas On World Press Freedom Day, elected officials must commit to keeping press freedom nonpartisan MORE (Del.) introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act last year, which would let Mueller or any special counsel challenge their firing in court.

A separate proposal from GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (S.C.) and Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerProgressive rise is good news for Sanders, Warren Clinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Maybe a Democratic mayor should be president MORE (N.J.) would require a judge to approve a Justice Department request to fire Mueller or any other special counsel.

But the bills face an uphill battle to getting 60 votes. Republicans are publicly supportive of Mueller but skeptical that the president would actually fire him. 

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinBowing to pressure, White House to host bipartisan briefing on Russia investigation Wyden presses FBI for information on inflated encryption figures Poll: Majority of Americans don't know Mueller probe has uncovered crimes MORE named Mueller, a former FBI director, as special counsel for the Russia investigation after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump legal team seeking to limit scope of Mueller interview: report FBI source in Russia probe raises alarms over political surveillance On Trump and DOJ, both liberals and conservatives are missing the point MORE