Since last August, U.S. Senator Chris Coons has been urging his colleagues in Congress to approve legislation to protect former FBI Director Robert Mueller as he investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.
After another round of tweets from President Trump criticizing Mueller this week, the Democrat from Delaware renewed his call for legislation to protect Mueller from being fired.
“Anyone who thinks the Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn’t in imminent danger of being fired isn’t paying attention. Just look at your phones” Coons said in an interview on MSNBC this week. “He is rattling the cage and threatening to fire him.”
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2018
On Sunday, Trump had tweeted: “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?.
He followed up Monday with this tweet: “A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” The president has frequently referred to the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”
Coons’ bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, would make it law that a special counsel could only be fired for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, like a violation of departmental policies.
The bill also stipulates that only a U.S. attorney general who has been confirmed by the Senate and is not recused from the matter can terminate the special counsel. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Mueller investigation in March 2017.
“It would be horrible for Robert Mueller to be fired. It would undermine rule of law. It’s a red line the president shouldn’t cross,” Coons said.
He said some Republicans have made strong statements about allowing Mueller to complete his investigation, but Coons said statements aren’t enough. “They say, ‘That’s not going to happen. I’ve gotten reassurances from the White House it’s not going to happen.’ My mom used to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Frankly, this is a train rolling right at us. The easiest way to stop it is through action now.”
There had been suggestions that a provision to protect Mueller from being fired should be added to the omnibus spending bill which must be passed by Friday.
Coons dismissed those suggestions and said he will instead continue to press forward for legislative approval by Congress.
Even if Congress does pass Coon’s bill most Republicans believe that President Trump would never sign it.