Protections for special prosecutor Mueller clear panel

April FrancisApr 27, 2018

The Senate's judiciary committee approved a bipartisan bill Thursday to guard Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Donald Trump without cause.

The legislation, which would give Mueller and other special counsels the ability to challenge their firings in court, still has little chance of becoming law - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to put it on the floor, House Republicans have shown no interest in the measure and Trump would be unlikely to sign it.

Democrats also held out hope that the bipartisan committee vote Thursday would persuade McConnell, who said last week that the bill was "not necessary", to change his mind.

The bill, called the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, would codify into law the existing Justice Department regulation that says a special counsel may be fired only by the attorney general, and only for good cause.

The vote marked the first time lawmakers advanced legislation to protect Mueller as he investigates potential Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Although the bill doesn't expressly bar the president from firing the special counsel, "There's a robust debate among legal scholars across the political spectrum as to whether the bill nevertheless goes too far", the Atlantic reports.

The bill was opposed by Sens.

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The bill would delay the firing of a special counsel by ten days and allow an ousted special counsel to have a panel of federal judges review the decision.

In light of the partisan conflicts that led up to Thursday's vote, some Judiciary Committee members proposed to scale back the effort into a simple nonbinding "sense of the Senate" resolution offering support for Mueller. All the Democrats on the committee supported the measure.

Democrats have broadly supported the legislation, expressing deep concerns with Trump's recent comments about the investigation and his reported attempts to remove Mueller. That included negotiating with Grassley, who floated an amendment that included increased reporting to Congress by the special counsel. Mike Lee of Utah and Hatch as an alternative to replace the text of the special counsel bill with a "sense of the Senate resolution".

A Quinnipiac University poll, conducted from April 20-24, found 74 percent of respondents believe Trump should not order the removal of the special counsel.

That requirement is meant to give Congress some opportunity to take recourse - including potential impeachment - to prevent a special counsel from being terminated without cause.

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