WASHINGTON—Thursday, Republicans either doubted the success or were unaware of a bipartisan bill protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller that was previously put forth by Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis.
“The President would maintain the power to remove the special counsel, but we would just want to make sure that it had merit and have that back-end judicial process,” Tillis said Thursday morning on CNN’s “Newsroom.”
The two senators proposed the bill hours before Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington to probe Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections on Thursday. “And if there is a termination, we just want to make sure, through judicial review, that it was warranted,” he added.
However, the idea of President Trump signing such a bill seems outside of the realm of expectations, even though Sen. Coons believes that this legislation would have enough bipartisan support to overcome a presidential veto.
“I just had a conversation with a Republican colleague on the floor who told me his hope is that it will end up having a strong enough bipartisan vote that it would clearly survive a veto,” Coons told The Daily Caller Thursday.
The Delaware Democrat went on to say, “And I want to give a lot of credit to Senator Graham and Senator Booker who first moved a bill on this topic. I think our bills are complementary and it’s my hope that we are working together to fashion a bill that when we return in September will quickly get broad bipartisan support.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, though, appeared unfamiliar with the soon-to-be proposed bill and does not think this type of legislation is needed.
“It’s just a hypothetical and, frankly, I don’t think it’s necessary, because I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Cornyn told TheDC.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins told TheDC she’s doubtful the legislation is necessary because deterrents are already in place.
“I personally think it’s important to recognize that the president cannot fire Bob Mueller. He could direct the deputy attorney general to do so, but I had an extensive exchange at a public hearing with the deputy attorney general and he said that, unless there was a lawful cause to fire the special counsel, he would not do so,” Collins told TheDC.
Collins went on to say, “He would refuse that order if it were to come. And in addition, under the Justice Department guidelines, which say that the special counsel can only be removed for cause, it also requires a report to Congress already on what the justification was, so I think that those are likely sufficient deterrents to firing Bob Mueller,” adding that senators on both sides of the aisle had no interest in extending the independent counsel law.
“So I think as long as the Justice Department guidelines are followed, Mr. Mueller has absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” she said.