Senate

Senate panel moves to take up bill protecting Mueller

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with legislation to limit President Trump’s ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to add the bill to the panel’s business meeting agenda scheduled for Thursday, a spokesman for the senator confirmed to The Hill.

{mosads}”In order to do that, the Minority would need to assent. Committee rules require such assent within 72 hours of a markup. Grassley has sought that assent, and is waiting to hear back,” said spokesman George Hartmann.

A spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, confirmed that Grassley and his staff have reached out about adding the legislation to Thursday’s agenda. 

Asked if Feinstein had signed off, the spokesman added that it was under review. He later clarified that they have not yet received a copy of the bill text. 

Even if the bill is taken up by the committee, it could still face delays.

Under committee rules, any one member can delay a vote on legislation for a week. Multiple senators on the panel are opposed to the bill, making it likely it will be held back. 

The legislation, from Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would let Mueller, or any other special counsel, receive an “expedited judicial review” within 10 days of being fired to determine if it was for a “good cause.” If it wasn’t, the special counsel would be reinstated. 

The measure would also codify existing regulations that only a senior Justice Department official can fire a special counsel and that they must provide the reason in writing.

Tillis told The Hill that he wasn’t certain the bill would be able to get a vote on Thursday but said it would “certainly” happen “here in the next week.”

The committee action would come after two previous special counsel bills languished for months without a vote.

If the bill passes out of committee it would also put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to let the legislation come up for a vote. 

McConnell on Tuesday said he saw no need for a vote on legislation protecting Mueller because he doesn’t believe Trump will fire him. 

Tags Christopher Coons Chuck Grassley Cory Booker Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Robert Mueller Robert Mueller Thom Tillis United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
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