Flake says he’ll oppose judicial nominees until Mueller bill gets vote
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on Wednesday that he will oppose any of President Trump’s judicial nominations until legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller 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 McConnell (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.