The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from interference or firing by President Donald Trump, sending the bipartisan legislation to the full chamber.
That's a revised version of the amendment Grassley was originally floating, which would've required a special counsel report if the scope of the investigation ever changed. Four Republicans joined the Democrats in favor.
"The Senate Judiciary Committee is right to draw a line in the sand to protect Special Counsel Mueller's Russian Federation investigation", she declared, "and now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must put his country before his party and allow the full Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation". Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said that "firing Mueller would cause a firestorm and bring the administration's agenda to a halt".
"This is an issue that should come to the floor", Sen. "I hope Senator McConnell will consider that possibility".
The legislation, introduced two weeks ago by Tillis, Graham, and Democratic Sens. Lindsey Graham of SC and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and two Democrats, Sens. The latter two Republicans cosponsored the legislation with Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Chris Coons of Delaware.
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The bill, called the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, would codify into law the existing Justice Department regulation that says a special counsel may be fired only by the attorney general, and only for good cause. "I will wait until this is over", said Trump. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said it would be "politically suicidal".
Most of Thursday's hearing centered on a debate about the constitutionality of Congress' curbing certain executive powers.
"While this outcome would, at first blush, seem to support the Mueller bill", the Atlantic reports, "a number of liberal legal scholars have endorsed the late Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Morrison, in which he argued the law usurps presidential power". "You can not protect the law by contravening the supreme law of the land".
The amendment failed on a 5-16 vote.
Legislation to protect Mueller, who's leading the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation, has been batted around in Congress for weeks.
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. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel, offered praise for the new draft, saying it was "the result of hours of bipartisan negotiations".