Grassley: Mueller protection bill should get a vote

Senate Judiciary 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) said on Thursday that a bill to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE from getting fired should get a vote on the Senate floor.

“It’s legitimate that the bill be brought up,” he said. “It would satisfy me if it became law because I voted for it.”

The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act passed out of the Judiciary Committee in April with a 14-7 vote.

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Grassley, who voted for the legislation when it passed out of the Judiciary Committee, made his comments after he had to hold over judicial nominees at a committee business meeting because of opposition from Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least MORE (R-Ariz.).

Flake says he will block judicial nominees from coming to the floor until the special counsel protection bill gets a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Senate to take up Trump's border-immigration plan next week Trump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked an effort by Flake and Sen. 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.) to call up the legislation for a floor vote.

Grassley said on Thursday that while he’s not at the “forefront” with Flake in pressuring McConnell, he thinks the legislation should pass.

“I’m not going to be in forefront with Flake advocating that the leader do so and so, but I wouldn’t do anything to stop it,” he said. “Usually, a chairman of a committee if he doesn’t want a bill brought up can … object to unanimous consent.”

Flake on Thursday said the legislation would pass if it came to the floor.

“There are some who are not on the committee who will vote for this,” he said of Senate GOP colleagues. “It will pass on the floor.”

He said McConnell doesn’t want to bring it to the floor because he’s worried about angering President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE.

The legislation would codify existing Department of Justice regulations requiring that the special counsel can only be fired for good cause by a Senate-confirmed Justice Department official.

It would also create a 10-day window for a judge to decide whether any termination of a special counsel is for good cause and stop the firing if it fails to meet the cause requirement.

Trump on Thursday renewed his criticism of Mueller’s investigation into his administration.

“Universities will someday study what highly conflicted (and NOT Senate approved) Bob Mueller and his gang of Democrat thugs have done to destroy people,” the president tweeted.

Flake on Thursday reiterated his position that he will block judicial nominees, even those he supports, in the Judiciary Committee until the special counsel protection bill comes up for a vote.

The committee is narrowly divided with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. As a result, Flake can stop nominees from being reported with favorable recommendations.

Grassley said he won’t be able to move nominees to the floor as a result, though he noted there are already 30 nominees that have already been passed through committee and are waiting for floor action.

He said that some judges may be able to move with Democratic votes but conceded that he “wouldn’t get them all out.”

Grassley discounted the possibility of McConnell moving nominees directly to the floor without favorable committee votes.

“That’s never been done as far as I know,” he said. “I don’t think that would be done.”

Updated at 12:37 p.m.