A Republican senator is giving special counsel Robert Mueller a fighting chance if President Donald Trump ends up firing him.
Will he or won’t he? There has been speculation that Trump has considered firing Mueller, who is heading the investigation into whether or not Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence results.
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina introduced a bill that would give Mueller the right to appeal his firing, but the man who denied saying he told then-FBI Director James Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go,” referring to an investigation into the Trump camp, is not pleased.
Politico’s Josh Dawsey and Elana Schor reported that two days before Trump’s verbal brawl with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, Trump called Tillis, signaled he was “unhappy” with the bill and said he didn’t want it to pass.
Tillis is a first-term senator and hasn’t caused any controversy or taken any high-profile stances, but he not only co-wrote the bill with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), he went on TV to talk about it.
A few days later, Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a similar bill requiring any action by the attorney general to terminate a special counsel to first undergo federal judicial review.
The Tillis/Coons bill, called the Special Counsel Integrity Act, adds teeth to the current Justice Department regulations that state special counsel can only be fired for “good cause.” If passed, the new bill will become federal law and then only a Senate-confirmed official could fire Mueller.
“It is critical that special counsels have the independence and resources they need to lead investigations,” Tillis said. “A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of checks and balances.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all campaign-related investigations, so the person who has the responsibility of firing Mueller would be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
But Trump right now has the power to fire Mueller because he can fire Rosenstein. Former President Richard Nixon, who has gone down in history for “Watergate,” repeatedly fired or forced resignations from Justice Department officials until he found one who suited him during the infamous Saturday Night Massacre on Oct. 20, 1973.