Chris Coons urges vote on Mueller bill: ‘Easiest way possible to prevent an entirely predictable constitutional crisis’

Chris Coons urges vote on Mueller bill: ‘Easiest way possible to prevent an entirely predictable constitutional crisis’
© Greg Nash

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsGOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking MORE (D-Del.) Wednesday urged a vote on a bill he’s co-sponsored to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE from being fired by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE, citing the White House’s unpredictable nature as a reason for his urgency. 

“This is the easiest way possible to prevent an entirely predictable constitutional crisis," he said.

"When I press my friends who are Republican senators and leaders and say, ‘What would we do if he were to abruptly fire Robert Mueller,’ they say, ‘well, it’s not going to happen.’ " Coons said. "This is a simple step. … We could take up and pass this bill in a few minutes this afternoon and I’m confident it would get 60 votes.”

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Coons will join Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Flake: Republicans don't speak out against Trump 'because they want to keep their jobs' GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBlack caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' MORE (D-N.J.) on the Senate floor to try to force a vote on their bill to protect Mueller.

Flake has threatened to vote against any judicial nominee put forth in the lame-duck Senate session until the bill is voted on, giving Republicans no margin for error in their current 51-49 majority in the Senate and 11-10 majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Flake sits.

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday said that GOP lawmakers were exploring the possibility of a vote on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) has opposed bringing the measure to the floor for a vote.

"We're whipping that to see where people are. I think the leader needs that information to decide how to manage all the competing demands on our time," Cornyn said when asked about discussions within the Republican caucus about the legislation.

Cornyn added Republicans were willing to hold a vote on the legislation "if that's what it's going to take" to move nominees. 

In addition to Flake, several Republican senators, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (Maine), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisProgressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment Senate braces for bitter fight over impeachment rules Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (S.C.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGraham vows Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle Trump to sign USMCA next Wednesday MORE (Iowa), support giving the legislation a vote on the Senate floor. 

Coons also mentioned acting Attorney General Matt WhitakerMatthew G WhitakerEx-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ GOP pollster says Dems are relitigating 2016 election with investigations of Trump Former senior FBI official calls Whitaker hearing ‘disgraceful’ MORE’s past comments criticizing Mueller as another reason to vote on the bill.

“A number of senators of both parties have privately agreed that Whitaker is a less reliable supervisor and may well stumble into interfering with the Mueller investigation or may do it intentionally,” he said.

Whitaker will replace Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts Journalist alleging Obama administration spied on her seeks to reopen case Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE in overseeing the probe and has made several comments in the past that were critical of the inquiry.

He touted in a 2017 interview that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, adopting a favorite line from the president and undercutting the reason Mueller was appointed. He also said in 2014 that the courts were intended to be the "inferior" branch of government.

He wrote an op-ed for The Hill in May 2017 criticizing the idea of appointing a special counsel for the DOJ’s investigation.

“Serious, bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian allegations have been under way for weeks and they have made progress. Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way,” he wrote. 

His past comments led several high-profile Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (N.Y.) and current House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (Calif.) too call for his recusal.