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McConnell: Mueller needs 'no protection' from Trump

McConnell: Mueller needs 'no protection' from Trump
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials ratchet up fight over drug pricing | McConnell says Republicans could try again on ObamaCare repeal | Dems go on offense against GOP lawsuit Republicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday shot down taking up legislation to block the Trump administration from unilaterally firing Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, saying the special counsel isn't under threat. 

"My understanding is there's no effort underway to undermine or to remove the special counsel. Therefore, I don't see the need to bring up legislation to protect someone who appears to need no protection," McConnell told reporters.

Asked what would happen if Trump tried to fire Mueller, McConnell said the question is a "hypothetical" and "as of right now I'm unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel." 

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The New York Times reported late last week that Trump in June tried to fire Mueller — who is investigating the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow — but was stopped after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign. 

Democrats have latched onto the report, arguing it underscores the need for legislation protecting Mueller's job. 

GOP Sen. 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 (N.C.) and Democratic Sen. 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 (Del.) introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act last year, which would let Mueller or any special counsel challenge their firing in court.

A separate proposal from GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Election Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Five things to know about 'MBS,' Saudi Arabia's crown prince MORE (S.C.) and Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Biden: ‘Totally legitimate’ to question age if he runs in 2020 On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE (N.J.) would require a judge to approve a Justice Department request to fire Mueller or any other special counsel.

But the bills face an uphill battle to getting 60 votes. Republicans are publicly supportive of Mueller but skeptical that the president would actually fire him. 

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein says Mueller probe is 'appropriate and independent' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump requests Turkey's evidence on missing journalist | Takeaways from Texas Senate debate | Key Mueller findings could be ready after midterms Mueller to present key findings related to Russia probe after midterms: report MORE named Mueller, a former FBI director, as special counsel for the Russia investigation after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcGahn departs as White House counsel Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race FBI investigated media leak of McCabe comment about Flynn and Trump MORE