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 (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG 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.
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The senators said they were sending the letters to individuals who are in the line of succession if Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 TillisOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products 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.