As Trump fumes, bipartisan senators seek to protect special counsel

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller (L) is facing intensifying pressure from President Donald Trump about his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US election

Washington (United States) (AFP) – US senators introduced a bipartisan measure Wednesday that would protect the special prosecutor heading the Russia investigation, in a bid to check any attempt by President Donald Trump to fire him.

The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act would ensure that Robert Mueller, who is also probing any Trump campaign contacts or coordination with Russia, and any future special counsels could only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official.

Should the termination take place, the special counsel would have 10 days to seek an expedited judicial review to determine whether the firing was for good cause. If the firing is ruled a violation of the good cause clause, the action is reversed.

The bill comes one day after the White House insisted that Trump has the power to fire Mueller, stoking fears that the president is seeking to kill an investigation that inches closer to the Oval Office.

Trump’s attacks on Mueller have grown louder. On Wednesday he branded the Russia probe “fake” and “corrupt,” and blamed it for worsening ties between Washington and Moscow. 

The bipartisan legislation protecting the special counsel is seen as an effort to push back against White House aggression toward Mueller. 

“Special counsels must act within boundaries, but they must also be protected,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of four co-sponsors.

“This is a time when all of us — Republicans and Democrats — need to stand up and make it clear that we are committed to the rule of law in this country,” added Senate Democrat Chris Coons. 

The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, called on the Republican leadership to quickly bring the bill to the floor.

“Why not pass this legislation now and avoid a constitutional crisis?” Schumer asked.