Mueller protection bill blocked in Senate for third time

Legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers 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 McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.), who has argued the legislation isn't needed because he doesn't believe President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE will try to fire Mueller, objected.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 LeeOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Senate to vote on 9/11 victims bill on Tuesday Meghan McCain slams Rand Paul over blocking 9/11 compensation funding: 'This is a disgrace' 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.