McConnell Won't Allow a Vote on Bill to Protect Mueller

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"I don't think Mueller's a reason for passing this bill", Grassley said. It wouldn't take that many Republican senators to do it, only about 1/3 of them would be enough.

The legislation is seen as a potential buffer against concerns that Trump will try to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's probe. That's my responsibility as the majority leader.

"It would send a message", said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of ME, who recently endorsed the special counsel proposal written by two Republican senators, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of SC, and two Democratic senators, Chris Coons of DE and Cory Booker of New Jersey. Nevertheless, when the bipartisan quartet of senators behind the measures struck a compromise deal last week, Grassley was quick to promise their bill time in the Judiciary Committee - and even proposed an amendment of his own to give Congress an additional backup option to better review an order to fire a special counsel, even if the courts strike down the specific judicial-review procedure outlined in the measure.

Tillis and Graham, the bill's Republican sponsors, say they think the committee should pass the measure even if McConnell doesn't plan to put it on the floor.

The disputed legislation would prevent President Trump from firing Mueller.

If it does clear the committee, it still faces a tough road getting to the Senate floor for a vote. Neil Cavuto, the Fox News host who interviewed McConnell, pointed this fact out to the majority leader.

"It's on us to get the votes and then talk to the leader", Tillis said. Many people have said you should fire him.

"If I were convinced this were unconstitutional, I would not be moving it", said Coons, a lawyer.

"At the very least, if it's passed out of this committee, it's ready, and it could go at any time on the floor", said Feinstein, the ranking member on Judiciary.

The measure is on the Judiciary Committee's agenda for Thursday, but due to the panel's rules the bill will be marked up the following week.

Grassley on Thursday rejected the "conspiracy theory" that he was trying to "junk the bill" with the amendment and said that he planned to share his amendment with the full committee later on Thursday. "What I don't trust is future presidents who I don't know yet".

"In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller's investigation had to be shut down".

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