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Panel Votes on Bill to Protect Mueller 04/26 06:09

   The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a bill to protect 
special counsel Robert Mueller's job -- legislation that has split Republicans 
as President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Mueller's Russia 
investigation.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a 
bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's job --- legislation that has 
split Republicans as President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Mueller's 
Russia investigation.

   Two Republicans and two Democrats introduced the bill earlier this month as 
Trump publicly criticized the special counsel. Mueller is investigating 
potential ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign as well as possible 
obstruction of justice by the president.

   The measure under consideration Thursday would give any special counsel a 
10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing. A handful of 
Republicans have supported it, but most have opposed it, arguing that it is 
unconstitutional or unnecessary. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., 
has argued that Trump won't move to fire Mueller and has insisted he will not 
hold a full Senate vote on the legislation.

   If Republicans support the bill, some may be at risk of angering Trump and 
some of his supporters they represent. But the four lawmakers who wrote the 
bill --- GOP Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South 
Carolina and Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey 
--- are hoping to win enough bipartisan support to move it out of committee. 
Then, they say, they could try and find enough support in the full Senate to 
persuade McConnell to change his mind.

   With most Democrats on board, the bipartisan group has been working in 
recent days to gather additional Republican votes. They have been negotiating 
with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who had floated an 
amendment that included increased reporting to Congress by the special counsel.

   Democrats had initially opposed Grassley's amendment, saying it could 
undermine the investigation if the special counsel had to reveal too much to 
Congress. But a revised Grassley amendment released Wednesday evening appeared 
to be a potential compromise, dropping a section that would have required the 
special counsel's office to report to Congress if the scope of the 
investigation changed while it was ongoing. The Grassley amendment would also 
require notification if a special counsel were removed.

   Republicans opposing the bipartisan bill are expected to vote for an 
alternative resolution that would express a "sense of the Senate" that Mueller 
should be left alone to do his job.

   Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and a member of 
the Judiciary panel, endorsed that idea Wednesday, saying it had a more 
realistic chance of passing than the bipartisan bill. He is expected to propose 
the resolution at Thursday's vote.

   The resolution "may be a way forward because it avoids the 
unconstitutionality issue on a bill that the president won't sign and the House 
won't pass," Cornyn said. "So that may be a place for us to land."

   Trump's legislative director, Marc Short, said in a broadcast interview 
Sunday that "as far as I know, the president has no intention of firing" either 
Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's 
investigation. Short said he couldn't rule it out in the long term, though, 
because it's not known "how far off this investigation is going to veer."

   The bipartisan group of four senators introduced two separate bills last 
August when Trump first started to criticize Mueller publicly. That legislation 
stalled for months, but was revived and the two bills were combined two weeks 
ago as Trump fumed about a raid of his personal lawyer's office, in an 
investigation overseen by federal prosecutors in New York.

   After the raid, Trump said the Mueller investigation is "an attack on our 
country" and is "corrupt."


(KA)

 
 
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