Bipartisan Senate duo urge Trump to let Mueller complete work
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of senators is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE to let special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE finish his probe into the 2016 election, saying it would be in his “best interest.”

“We urge President Trump to allow the Special Counsel to complete his work without impediment, which is in the best interest of the American people, the President, and our nation,” Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight GOP fractured over filling Supreme Court vacancies in 2020 MORE (R-N.C.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners 15 Saudis identified in disappearance of Washington Post columnist The Senate needs to cool it MORE (D-Del.) said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

They added that they have “heard from constituents ... who agree that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be able to conduct his investigation without interference. This should not be a partisan issue.”

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It’s unclear what prompted the senators' statement, which comes near the beginning of a two-week recess for Congress.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president's legal team, but not directly about the investigation, during Tuesday's White House press conference. 

A spokesperson for Coons didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked about the timing, a spokesman for Tillis said “no particular reason, Senators Tillis and Coons are simply reiterating their position on Special Counsel Mueller.”

Trump earlier this month began criticizing Mueller more directly.

In a tweet, he decried the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added ... does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!,” Trump wrote.

The White House has repeatedly denied that Trump is planning to fire 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 White House counsel threatened to resign. 

Senators have introduced two bills to limit Trump's ability to fire Mueller, but those proposals have stalled for months in the Judiciary Committee.

One proposed bill, from GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Trump calls Saudi explanation for journalist's death credible, arrests 'good first step' MORE (S.C.) and Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Kamala Harris rallies voters in South Carolina MORE (N.J.), would require a judge to approve a Justice Department request to fire Mueller or any other special counsel.

A second bill, from Tillis and Coons, would let Mueller or any special counsel challenge their firing in court.

Tillis and Coons added on Tuesday that they introduced their bill “because we believe that the American people should have confidence in the Department of Justice’s ability to conduct independent investigations and its commitment to the rule of law."”

But Republicans argue the legislation is not necessary and appear deeply skeptical that Trump would fire Mueller, who is widely respected in Washington. They've also raised questions about whether the bills are constitutional. 

Olivia Beavers contributed