Here’s a head-scratcher for your Wednesday morning.
As members of President Trump’s inner circle push him to strike back at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, why aren’t senators who’ve publicly praised Mueller taking real steps to protect him?
Some background may be helpful. The Washington Post says that former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon is counseling the president to attack Mueller and push Congress to cut the funding of his investigation. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Trump pal Rupert Murdoch, has called on Mueller to resign, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser, says he has “soured” on Mueller and the investigation.
The not-so-subtle message is that Mueller is on thin ice, his investigation in jeopardy just as it appears to be making important progress. So again, where, where, where are the senators who just a few weeks ago were publicly fretting that Trump might have Mueller fired, and talking up bills to protect his investigation?
Asleep, it would appear.
Americans need to get to the truth about Russia’s attempts to sabotage our elections. Common Cause members and supporters across the nation have been calling members of Congress this week, urging them to step up and protect the Mueller investigation. Please take action today.
“I don’t feel an urgent need to pass that law until you show me that Mr. Mueller is in jeopardy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, told reporters on Tuesday. While Graham in August introduced one of two bills that would shield Mueller from dismissal, he insists now that “Anybody in his right mind at the White House wouldn’t think about replacing him.”
“We’re talking with the other sponsors and seeing if it’s the sort of thing that can get support,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, a principal sponsor of the other protect-Mueller bill, told TIME. Tillis dismissed suggestions that Trump could interfere in the Mueller investigation. “I want to make it clear that it isn’t just about this special counsel. It’s about all future special counsels.”
Even New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat who Is co-sponsoring Graham’s legislation, seems in no hurry to move that legislation forward. He told Talking Points Memo that “there’s a lot of progress being made” in discussions among senators interested in the issue but acknowledged that he and Graham have yet to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Tillis and Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE, the lead co-sponsor of Tillis’ bill.
The lack of attention to Mueller’s welfare is particularly perplexing coming from senators like Graham, who has shown a willingness to challenge the president even while cultivating him as a golfing partner, and fellow Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, the president’s leading GOP critics.
Corker, who has famously worried that Trump’s recklessness might start a third world war, said this week that he “just cannot possibly imagine” the administration trying to fire Mueller. And Flake, who denounced the president in a speech last week announcing he will not seek reelection in 2018 told Politico only that he’s “looking at” the bills to protect Mueller.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections