Dems to top DOJ officials: Publicly promise not to interfere in Mueller's probe
© Greg Nash

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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Dems engage in last-ditch effort to block Kavanaugh Democrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary MORE (Vt.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTop Senate Dem: Public hearing is ‘only way to go’ for Kavanaugh accuser Durbin calls for delay in Kavanaugh vote Dems engage in last-ditch effort to block Kavanaugh MORE (Ill.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Dems call on Senate to postpone Kavanaugh vote Dems play waiting game with Collins and Murkowski MORE (R.I.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDem rep who met with Kavanaugh accuser: 'She wanted her truth to come out' Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC MORE (Calif.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed Congress and Trump are out of step on intellectual property White House drops plan to cut foreign aid MORE (Del.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Dems call on Senate to postpone Kavanaugh vote Republicans block Democratic bid to subpoena Kavanaugh documents MORE (Hawaii), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Judd Gregg: The collapse of the Senate Dems engage in last-ditch effort to block Kavanaugh MORE (N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Judd Gregg: The collapse of the Senate MORE (Calif.) signed the letters.

The senators said they were sending the letters to individuals who are in the line of succession if Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Lisa Page bombshell: FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment Ken Starr: 'Hell to pay' if Trump tries to fire Mueller MORE "were to either resign or be removed."

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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 TillisNorth Carolina governor: We saw ‘significant damage’ in eastern part of state GOP senator on allegation against Kavanaugh: 'Why on Earth' wasn't it discussed earlier? North Carolina senator: Damage from Florence 'in the billions of dollars' 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.