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

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (N.Y.) on Tuesday called on Senate GOP leaders to bring legislation to the floor that would protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 TillisEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats Senators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance 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 CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (D-Del.).

Another bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats MORE (R-S.C.) and Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Congress can make progress on fighting emissions with Zero Food Waste Act 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 RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 CornynBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division Federal officials abroad are unprotected — in a world of increasing volatility 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 SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases 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.