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Schumer: It's time to vote on legislation protecting Mueller

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFive takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Schumer rips Trump 'Medicare for all' op-ed as 'smears and sabotage' GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter MORE (N.Y.) on Tuesday called on Senate GOP leaders to bring legislation to the floor that would protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE from being fired in the midst of heightened tension over his investigation into Russian election meddling.

Schumer called for new protections of Mueller hours after the FBI raided the Manhattan office of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, enraging the president.

The Democratic leader warned that Mueller’s investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded to avoid a constitutional crisis.

He noted that there are several bipartisan bills to protect the special counsel.

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“Let us take steps to protect the special counsel from political interference. We have several bipartisan bills designed to do just that. Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell should bring them to the floor and let us debate them very soon,” Schumer said.

Trump blasted the Department of Justice Tuesday morning after FBI agents used a search warrant to seize documents from Cohen’s office and residence on Monday afternoon.

“Attorney–client privilege is dead!” he tweeted. “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”   

Trump did not rule out firing Mueller while speaking to reporters before a White House meeting on Monday.

Calling the investigation a “disgrace,” Trump said, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

Schumer defended the raid as being approved by lifelong public officials, noting there was a high bar for them to obtain a warrant.

“Law enforcement officers believe there’s a good chance that the attorney for [the] president committed [a] crime or was involved in fraud where they couldn’t have gotten the okay from the magistrate to make these seizures,” Schumer said. 

Democrats and a few Republicans have pushed in recent months for legislation to protect the special counsel’s independence.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight GOP fractured over filling Supreme Court vacancies in 2020 GOP senators call for Kavanaugh FBI findings to be made public MORE (R-N.C.) last year floated a bill that would empower judges to reinstate Mueller if a court found his firing to be improper. 

That bill was cosponsored by 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 (D-Del.).

Another bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBrunson release spotlights the rot in Turkish politics and judiciary Saudi Arabia, Turkey to form joint investigation into Khashoggi disappearance Democrats must end mob rule MORE (R-S.C.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Georgia gubernatorial candidate confident election will be fair despite allegations of voter suppression Biden leads crowded field of Dems in potential 2020 matchup: poll MORE (D-N.J.) would require judicial approval of any effort by the Justice Department to fire Mueller.

Most Republicans, including GOP leaders, however, have argued prior to this week that legislation is not necessary because Trump is unlikely to fire Mueller.

Trump would likely need the sign-off of Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinThree reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself Trump: Nunes should receive Medal of Honor MORE to dismiss Mueller. Rosenstein is working closely with the special counsel and has repeatedly said he has no cause to fire him. 

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump defends 0B US arms sale to Saudi Arabia Florida politics play into disaster relief debate O’Rourke faces pivotal point in Texas battle with Cruz MORE (Texas) told reporters last month that “I just think it’s not necessary” when asked about a bill to protect the special counsel, and noted that such a bill would need Trump’s signature to become law. 

Schumer, however, argued that Republicans can no longer be confident that Trump won't act.

“For months Republicans have said that legislation to protect the special counsel is not needed because they’ve been assured by nameless people that the president won’t fire the special counsel,” he said. “That assurance has been shaken by the president’s comments last night.” 

Trump again criticized Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump unsure if Mattis will stay: 'He's sort of a Democrat' Will Sessions use indefinite mandatory detention to reduce the demand for asylum hearings? Chicago sues Trump admin for withholding police funding over sanctuary city policies MORE on Monday for recusing himself from investigations related to possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sessions's recusal is what put Rosenstein in charge of the probe.

“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he recused himself,” the president fumed, adding that he would have picked a different attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.