On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to protect special counsel Robert Muller in a 14-7 vote. The panel approved the bipartisan proposal, although many Republicans on the committee did not support it.
Every Democrat on the committee supported the legislation, meaning they only needed one Republican to support them. They got four instead.
According to The Hill: The vote marks the first time Congress has advanced legislation to formally protect Mueller from being fired by President Trump, who has railed against him in public and reportedly talked in private of dismissing him.
The bill, sponsored by Tillis and Graham (R-S.C.) with Sens. Cory Booker(D-N.J.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), would codify Department of Justice regulations that say only a senior Department of Justice official can fire Mueller or another special counsel.
It would give a special counsel an “expedited review” of their firing. If a court determines that it wasn’t for “good cause,” the special counsel would be reinstated.
The committee also added new reporting requirements into the bill, including notification when a special counsel is appointed or removed and requiring a report be given to Congress after an investigation wraps up; that report would detail the investigation’s findings and prosecution decisions.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) called the reporting requirements “reckless” since it would require a special counsel to deliver names of people whom they did not want to prosecute. However, Democrats praised Grassley who said he was willing to compromise on his amendment, “marking a political 180 from as recently as Wednesday, when Democrats were concerned Grassley’s amendment could sink the bill,” The Hill report continues.
While Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the original amendment was a “deal breaker,” and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), acting as the top Democrat on the panel, threatened to vote against the legislation “in its entirety.”
But the publicly released version of Grassley’s amendment didn’t include a provision that would have required a notification to Congress about changes to the “specific nature or scope” of Mueller’s investigation.
Feinstein praised Grassley on Thursday for making the “necessary compromises.”
“We have a piece of legislation that I believe will stand the test of time and will also stand the test of scrutiny,” she said.
The legislation now heads to the full Senate, where it faces entrenched opposition from key Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate,” McConnell told Fox News earlier this month.
The bill doesn’t have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate, and has even less of a chance to pass the more conservative House. It also would be unlikely to win the two-thirds support needed to override a presidential veto.
McConnell and most GOP senators say publicly that they believe Trump will ultimately decide not to fire Mueller, a former FBI director who is widely respected in Washington.
They also argue the legislation isn’t constitutional and, even if passed, would face a challenge in the courts.