Bill to Protect Mueller Passes Senate Committee

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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation to protect the special counsel from being fired, a rare bipartisan step that sends a warning signal to President Donald Trump not to remove Robert Mueller.

There also are constitutional concerns about the bill, known as the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the bill is "not necessary" and that he would not bring it up for a vote. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)-who co-sponsored the bill with Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)-expressed hope that the committee's 14-7 vote "serves as a clear sign that protecting the special counsel and America's democracy is of the utmost importance".

While lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have for months pondered taking action to protect Mueller, the effort gained new traction after federal investigators raided the home and office of Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen in an investigation that spun off from the Mueller probe - prompting fresh attacks on the special counsel from Trump. The designation, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by The Associated Press, has raised questions about what legal threat Trump personally faces from the special counsel and whether it has any impact on his decision to sit for an interview with prosecutors. Among Republicans, 59 percent oppose firing Mueller. If dismissed, a special counsel could file for judicial review within 10 days of his or her firing. A previous version of that amendment almost derailed committee passage of the bill, but Grassley was able to come to a compromise with Democrats to win their support.

Almost all GOP senators say Trump shouldn't fire Mueller.

Malaysia releases images of suspects in Palestinian killing
According to the local police chief, the suspects had fair complexions, and were either of Middle Eastern or European descent. The men were believed to have entered Malaysia in January but their nationalities were still not known, police said.

It's in Trump's interest to not fire Mueller because the investigation will likely vindicate him, Hatch suggested.

For now, the move is largely symbolic, given McConnell's opposition, but it shows the complexity of Republican support for Trump when it comes to the president's attacks on Mueller. That included negotiating with Grassley, who floated an amendment that included increased reporting to Congress by the special counsel.

In opposing the bill, senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch said it was unconstitutional and unnecessary because Trump already knows that he would face political ruin if he fired Mueller.

Posner had called for legislative protection for the special counsel in a February 4 op-ed for the New York Times.