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Mueller protection bill blocked in Senate for third time

Legislation protecting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with 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 McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), who has argued the legislation isn't needed because he doesn't believe President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short 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 senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot Matt Stoller says cheerleading industry shows why antitrust laws are 'insufficient' Senate chaos: Johnson delays exit as votes pushed to Friday 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.