Senate panel moves to take up bill protecting Mueller

The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with legislation to limit President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE's ability to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE

Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries MORE (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.

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"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 FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr 5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony MORE (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 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 (D-Del.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOcasio-Cortez returns to 'The Late Show' on Monday We need action on personal cybersecurity Gillibrand and Booker play 'How Well Do You Know Your Co-Worker' game amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-N.J.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight MORE (R-N.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Overnight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Dem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report MORE (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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (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.