Politics & Government

Senate committee to consider bills to protect special counsel Mueller next week

In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington.
In this June 21, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. AP

Two bills that could curb the power of President Donald Trump’s administration to fire special counsel Robert Mueller are set for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Trump said in August that he would not fire Mueller after several reports indicated he was at least considering getting rid of the special counsel. Mueller, the former FBI director, is investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump administration and whether Trump or anyone in his administration obstructed justice.

A special counsel can be removed by the attorney general or, if the AG has recused himself, the most senior Department of Justice official.

The hearing Tuesday is officially titled “Special Counsels and the Separation of Powers.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., have introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act, which would allow a fired special counsel to have his ouster reviewed by a three-judge panel within 14 days. If the court decides there was not a good cause for the firing, the special counsel would be reinstated.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., have introduced the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act, which says any action to remove a special counsel would first have to be reviewed by a panel of federal judges. The court would have to issue an order finding “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause,” in order to remove the special counsel.

Tillis, Coons and Graham are members of the committee.

  Comments