Flake says he'll oppose judicial nominees until Mueller bill gets vote

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) said on Wednesday that he will oppose any of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's judicial nominations until legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE gets a vote.

"I have informed the majority leader I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until ... [the bill] is brought to the full Senate for a vote," Flake said from the Senate floor.

Flake's threat will block the Judiciary Committee from approving judicial nominations and sending them to the full Senate without help from Democrats. Republicans hold a 11-10 majority on the panel and many of the most controversial nominees pass along party lines, meaning they would need either Flake's vote or a Democratic senator to flip.

On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.) has slightly more leeway. With a 51-49 majority, Flake would need a Republican colleague to join him and every Democrat to block a judicial nominee on the Senate floor.

His decision comes after McConnell blocked Flake from bringing legislation to protect Mueller from being fired to a vote before the Senate.

The bill has been stalemated amid opposition from GOP leadership after it cleared the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan basis.

The legislation would protect Mueller, or any other special counsel, in the event he is fired, but the bill has stalled amid opposition from GOP leadership.

The bill would codify Justice Department regulations that say only a senior department official can fire Mueller or another special counsel.

It would give a special counsel an "expedited review" of their firing. If a court determines that it wasn't for "good cause," the special counsel would be reinstated.