April 11 (UPI) — Senators introduced a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller as President Donald Trump entertains firing the man investigating members of his campaign team.
Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chris Coons, D-Del. and Thom Tillis R-N.C., announced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act — a combined version of two previously-introduced Senate bills designed to protect Mueller’s job.
Mueller is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and examining whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the election results. Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and believes he has the authority to fire Mueller, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this week.
Under the proposed legislation, a senior Justice Department official can only fire Mueller for good cause and must provide the reason in writing.
The senators’ proposal would also give any special counsel ten days after a termination to challenge the move in court and would preserve the staffing, documents and materials of an investigation.
“A nation of laws cannot exist if the people tasked with enforcing them are subjected to political interference or intimidation from the President,” Booker said. “The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act will install a needed check and ensure that Special Counsel Mueller and his team — and any future special counsels — are able to follow the facts and the law wherever they lead.”
Although Graham said special counsels “must act within boundaries,” he added that they must also be protected.
“Our bill allows judicial review of any decision to terminate a special counsel to make sure it’s done for the reasons cited in the regulation rather than political motivation,” Graham said. “I think this will serve the country well.”
Tillis said the bill would ensure that special counsels have the “independence they need to conduct fair and impartial investigations.”
Wednesday morning, Trump blamed escalating diplomatic tensions with Russia on the “fake & corrupt” Russia investigation.
“Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama,” Trump tweeted. “Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!”
The president most recently described the special counsel as the “most conflicted group of people I have ever seen” and called Monday’s FBI raid of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s office as a “attack on our country.”