Schumer: It's time to vote on legislation protecting Mueller

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDonald Trump Jr. headlines Montana Republican convention Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points MORE (N.Y.) on Tuesday called on Senate GOP leaders to bring legislation to the floor that would protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE from being fired in the midst of heightened tension over his investigation into Russian election meddling.

Schumer called for new protections of Mueller hours after the FBI raided the Manhattan office of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, enraging the president.

The Democratic leader warned that Mueller’s investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded to avoid a constitutional crisis.

He noted that there are several bipartisan bills to protect the special counsel.

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“Let us take steps to protect the special counsel from political interference. We have several bipartisan bills designed to do just that. Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell should bring them to the floor and let us debate them very soon,” Schumer said.

Trump blasted the Department of Justice Tuesday morning after FBI agents used a search warrant to seize documents from Cohen’s office and residence on Monday afternoon.

“Attorney–client privilege is dead!” he tweeted. “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”   

Trump did not rule out firing Mueller while speaking to reporters before a White House meeting on Monday.

Calling the investigation a “disgrace,” Trump said, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

Schumer defended the raid as being approved by lifelong public officials, noting there was a high bar for them to obtain a warrant.

“Law enforcement officers believe there’s a good chance that the attorney for [the] president committed [a] crime or was involved in fraud where they couldn’t have gotten the okay from the magistrate to make these seizures,” Schumer said. 

Democrats and a few Republicans have pushed in recent months for legislation to protect the special counsel’s independence.

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 (R-N.C.) last year floated a bill that would empower judges to reinstate Mueller if a court found his firing to be improper. 

That bill was cosponsored by Sen. 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 (D-Del.).

Another bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (R-S.C.) and 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 (D-N.J.) would require judicial approval of any effort by the Justice Department to fire Mueller.

Most Republicans, including GOP leaders, however, have argued prior to this week that legislation is not necessary because Trump is unlikely to fire Mueller.

Trump would likely need the sign-off of Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinScrutiny ramps up over Commerce secretary's stock moves Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Top House Dem claims Judiciary chairman's DOJ, FBI subpoena is invalid MORE to dismiss Mueller. Rosenstein is working closely with the special counsel and has repeatedly said he has no cause to fire him. 

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border MORE (Texas) told reporters last month that “I just think it’s not necessary” when asked about a bill to protect the special counsel, and noted that such a bill would need Trump’s signature to become law. 

Schumer, however, argued that Republicans can no longer be confident that Trump won't act.

“For months Republicans have said that legislation to protect the special counsel is not needed because they’ve been assured by nameless people that the president won’t fire the special counsel,” he said. “That assurance has been shaken by the president’s comments last night.” 

Trump again criticized Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country Prosecutor warned border authorities office is ‘diverting’ DOJ resources from other cases: report There's room in America for domestic violence victims MORE on Monday for recusing himself from investigations related to possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sessions's recusal is what put Rosenstein in charge of the probe.

“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he recused himself,” the president fumed, adding that he would have picked a different attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.