Press: Congress must protect Mueller from Trump

Press: Congress must protect Mueller from Trump
© Hill illustration

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report The media just can't stop lying about Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines – First lady makes surprise visit to migrant children at border MORE because he refused to drop the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn’s connections, and possible collusion, with Russian officials in their attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

In the words of then-White House strategist Stephen Bannon, that turned out to be one of “the worst mistakes in modern political history.” Why? Because it triggered the appointment of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who took over the FBI investigation and expanded it from examining not only collusion with Russia, but obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.

So what did Donald Trump do next? In June, just one month later, Trump fired Robert Mueller. Or tried to. Until White House counsel Don McGahn not only refused to fire Mueller, but told Trump he’d resign if Trump went ahead with his plan. At which point, Trump was forced to back down. By the way, how comforting to know there’s at least one person inside the Trump White House with a conscience — and half a brain.

Is that the end of it? No way. Donald Trump’s like a dog with a bone. He’s convinced that the entire investigation is the work of pro-Hillary, anti-Trump FBI agents and that Mueller is personally out to get him. Which is why he discredits the probe nonstop, calling it “fake news” and a “witch hunt,” and why he wouldn’t hesitate to try to fire Mueller again, if he thought he could get away with it — even though the costs of doing so could be fatal.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows that it’d be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” Sen. 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.) warned on ABC’s “This Week.” Yes, everybody knows that except Donald Trump.

Which is why Congress must act to create a legal cocoon for the FBI, preventing Trump from firing Mueller and enabling the investigation to continue to its conclusion, whatever that conclusion may find regarding collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. It’s in the interest of both Republicans and Democrats to do so. Republicans, to save the Trump administration from the constitutional crisis that would result from firing Mueller. Democrats, to uphold the rule of law and get to the truth of Russian meddling in the election.

There are already two bipartisan bills on this issue proposed in the Senate: one by Republican Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump MORE (N.C.) and Democrat 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.), the other by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat 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.). They both have the same goal: to protect Mueller from getting summarily sacked by Trump, especially now that Mueller’s asked to interview the president and the investigation is in its final stages.

Predictably, Trump’s loyal defenders insist there’s no urgency to pass such legislation. “If there’s an issue that arises, we’ll take it up at the time,” argues House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump mocks 'elites' at campaign rally Rally crowd chants 'CNN sucks' after Trump rips media Trump's America fights back MORE (R-Calif.). But they’re dead wrong. You don’t wait to buy fire insurance until your house is on fire. The time to protect Robert Mueller is now.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”