Senate

Senate panel pushes bill protecting Mueller to next week

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is punting a bill limiting President Trump’s ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller into next week, instead of considering it on Thursday. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, had “agreed to not take action this week but instead place the bill on the committee’s markup calendar next week.”

“I’m worried about an amendment we haven’t been able to review that could undermine the investigation,” she said. 

{mosads}

Asked what amendment Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, was referring to, her spokesman pointed toward a recent New York Times article. 
 
GOP committee aides told the Times that Grassley wants to offer an amendment that would require the Justice Department to give a report to Congress when there is a change in the scope of a special counsel investigation or if the special counsel is fired.
 
Pushing the legislation into next week is a delay from Grassley’s request to put it under the committee’s agenda for a business meeting on Thursday.

Grassley aides noted earlier Wednesday that the GOP senator needed Feinstein to sign off on changing Thursday’s agenda because it was within 72 hours of the meeting.

Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, confirmed on Wednesday evening that Grassley would place the bill on the agenda for the first time next week instead of Thursday. 

“Because of Sen. Feinstein’s decision, the Committee will now vote on the special counsel bill on April 26 instead of April 19,” he said.

The timeline implies that the bill will be added to a committee markup on Thursday, April 19, though it is not yet listed on the committee’s website. 

And under committee rules, any one member can delay the legislation once it’s been placed on the agenda for a week. 

Several members on the committee are opposed to or have concerns about the legislation, meaning it will likely be delayed an additional week, setting up a vote for April 26. 

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.
 
Updated at 7:04 p.m.
Tags Christopher Coons Chuck Grassley Cory Booker Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Robert Mueller Senate Judiciary Committee Special counsel Thom Tillis

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