WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced legislation that prevents President Donald Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
The committee approved the measure in a 14-7 vote.
Four Republicans joined the committee’s ten Democrats in approving the measure.
The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act would delegate termination of the person occupying that office to a Senate-confirmed Attorney General or the highest-ranking Senate-confirmed DoJ official. The legislation stipulates that the special counsel may be only be fired for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the bill is unnecessary and that he will not bring it to the floor.
Following the committee vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged McConnell to reconsider.
“Given President Trump’s statement just this morning that he may interfere with the special counsel’s investigation, it’s become even more of an imperative that Leader McConnell put this bill on the Senate floor for a vote immediately,” Schumer said in a statement. “Rather than waiting for a constitutional crisis, the full Senate should act now.”
Trump said of Mueller’s investigation in a Thursday morning phone interview with Fox and Friends: “I have taken the position, and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change, that I will not be involved with the Justice Department.”
Last year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to investigate potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a witch-hunt and has not ruled out firing him. Trump has questioned Rosenstein’s ability to impartially oversee the investigation.