As they recessed for the summer late Thursday, senators left Washington with a hopeful sign that they will not tolerate any effort by President Trump to derail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s involvement in last year’s election and the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in it.
Two pairs of senators – Chris Coons, D-DE, and Thom Tills, R-NC; and Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC – introduced bills that follow different paths to a common conclusion: protecting Muller against any presidential move to fire him.
The Coons-Tillis bill would let Mueller go to court to contest any firing. The Booker-Graham proposal would require anyone attempting to fire Mueller to obtain court approval before acting.
The bills’ emergence and bipartisan support highlights growing restlessness on Capitol Hill about the president’s continued public attacks on the investigation and reports that he is contemplating firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointing a replacement who will dismiss Mueller. Democrats have been complaining for months about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia for months, but relatively few GOP lawmakers have challenged the president until recently.
While the Russia investigation is the genesis of both bills, both are written to protect the independence of any special counsel. Sessions is Mueller’s superior in the Justice Department but has recused himself from any role in the Russia investigation.
In another good sign for the health of the investigation, multiple media outlets reported late Thursday that Mueller has convened a grand jury in Washington to assist his work. A grand jury can subpoena documents that might demonstrate Russia’s election meddling and any involvement in it by the Trump campaign. The grand jury also can put witnesses under oath and ultimately return indictments if it finds sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
Office: Common Cause National