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 McConnellGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress 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 TillisGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering MORE (N.C.) and Democratic Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO Sunday shows preview: Washington heads into multi-day shutdown 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 GrahamGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Barr’s first task as AG: Look at former FBI leaders’ conduct Debate builds over making Mueller report public MORE (S.C.) and Democratic Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices 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 RosensteinBarr’s first task as AG: Look at former FBI leaders’ conduct 5 myths about William Barr William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump MORE named Mueller, a former FBI director, as special counsel for the Russia investigation after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMueller’s report: Release enough, but not too much Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Barr’s first task as AG: Look at former FBI leaders’ conduct MORE