Senators Have Introduced a Bipartisan Bill That Would Protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller From Being Fired

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill on Wednesday that could bar President Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller as Mueller continues to investigate the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, CNN reports.

Since Trump has left open the possibility of firing Muller after his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI at his home, office and hotel, there has been an effort on Capitol Hill to protect Mueller from being fired.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Cory Booker partnered up with their bill with Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons to combine the bills that the had introduced separately last August to protect Mueller.

The new bill, called the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, would ensure that only a senior member from the Justice Department would be able to fire special counsel, with the reasoning for the dismissal put in writing, NBC News reports. The bill would also give special counsel 10 days to seek a judicial review to ensure that the termination “was for good cause.” According to CNN, if “good cause” is not determined, the termination would not take effect. The bipartisan bill would aim to have all documents and staff working on the investigation preserved in the event that special counsel were to be dismissed, NBC News reports.

A spokesperson for Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has said that Grassley wants to place the bill on Thursday’s agenda for a 10 a.m. committee markup, NBC News reports. If every senator on the committee — which is currently comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — the bill could be brought up tomorrow, but that most likely won’t happen and the bill will be delayed for another week.

Despite that, though, the bill’s chances of reaching a floor vote as pretty slim. Even if it did gain the support to each the Senate floor, it most likely would not get the 60 votes it needs, with Republicans only having 51 members and the Democrats have 49. But as of right now, GOP leaders have been rather skeptical of the bill.

“The biggest question I have is if it did pass, would the President sign it? I think it's unlikely he would and, as I've said, I don't think it's necessary,” the Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Wednesday.

"I have a lot of faith in Mueller and I've shared with the President that I think it'd be a tremendous mistake on his part to fire him," Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker told CNN, adding that if the president decided to dismiss special counsel, it “would end his presidency as he knows it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated on Tuesday that he had not “seen clear indication yet that [Congress has] to pass something to keep [Mueller] from being removed, because [he doesn’t] think that's going to happen.”

During his press conference on Wednesday following his announcement that he will not be seeking re-election, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan expressed his support for Mueller and said that he did not think that Trump would dismiss special counsel, particularly since he has been “talking to people in the White House about it,” NBC News reports.

Currently, under Justice Department regulations, special counsel can only be dismissed by the Attorney General. However, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, that authority now rests with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation.

On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president believes he has the authority to fire special counsel. Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday, saying that “Mueller is most conflicted of all.”

But there isn’t a clear answer as to whether the president actually has the power to dismiss special counsel.

The president does, constitutionally speaking, have the authority to fire members of the executive branch. Following this argument, this constitutional power could potentially override any sort of regulation.

According to CNN, GOP members have been expressing constitutional concerns over the bill, including Senator John Kennedy who plans to vote against it in committee.