Mike Lee pens op-ed calling legislation to protect Mueller 'unconstitutional'

Mike Lee pens op-ed calling legislation to protect Mueller 'unconstitutional'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Ex-college classmate accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week MORE (R-Utah) declared on Tuesday that legislation designed to bar President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE from firing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is unconstitutional.

Lee argued in a USA Today op-ed that Trump alone holds the power to determine Mueller's future as special counsel, and that any effort by the Senate to curb that power would violate the separation of powers doctrine.

"Supporters of the legislation argue it is necessary to ensure no one is above the law, but the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and the Constitution provides that only the president can exercise executive power," Lee wrote.

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Lee noted that he does not believe that Trump should dismiss the special counsel, and that Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation without interference.

But by taking away Trump's legal authority to oust Mueller, lawmakers would risk creating an "unaccountable" federal prosecutor, even if that prosecutor acts "unjustly or unwisely."

He pointed to a quote from former Attorney General Robert Jackson, claiming that "the prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America."

"That’s even more true if the prosecutor has been made unaccountable to the public, yet that’s exactly what this legislation aims to do," Lee wrote.

Lee's op-ed came as a measure to protect Mueller makes its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Supporters of that legislation have argued that it's necessary to preserve the integrity of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to help sway the 2016 presidential election. 

Lee, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, has previously said that he will vote against advancing the legislation.