Mueller protection bill blocked in Senate for third time

Legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE from being fired was blocked in the Senate on Wednesday for a third time in roughly a month.

Retiring GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump MORE (Ariz.) asked consent to get a vote on the long-stalled legislation, which passed out of the Judiciary Committee in April.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFor city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now US ill-prepared for coronavirus-fueled mental health crisis Schumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe MORE (R-Ky.), who has argued the legislation isn't needed because he doesn't believe President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE will try to fire Mueller, objected.

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The objection all but guarantees the bill won't pass this year, with the Senate poised to wrap up its work for the year as soon as Wednesday.

Flake, who is retiring in January, argued that ensuring Mueller's investigation continues "is critical to upholding public trust in our institutions of government."

The bill "maintains a significant degree of presidential control while protecting the special counsel investigations from being terminated by a president who might feel that he or she is under increasing heat," Flake added.

Flake has previously asked for consent to bring up the bill for a vote twice since mid-November. McConnell objected the first time and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP deeply divided over Trump's social media crackdown House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (R-Utah) objected late last month.

Under the upper chamber's rules, senators can go to the floor to request a vote or passage of any bill or nomination. But any one senator can block their requests.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Mueller's probe, including in a tweet Tuesday calling the investigation a "Fraud and a Hoax which should be ended immediately."

The bill blocked Wednesday would have protected Mueller, or any other special counsel, in the event he is fired.

It would codify Justice Department regulations that say only a senior department official could fire Mueller or another special counsel.

It would also 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.