If President Trump decides to fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein it might trigger Senate GOP leaders to back bills that protect Robert Mueller.
Senate Republican leaders sharply warned President Donald Trump not to fire Robert Mueller III on Tuesday – but they once again stopped short of embracing legislation to protect the special counsel.
Their reluctance to take more forceful action came as Democratic leaders voiced new urgency to shield Mueller a day after Trump said he had been encouraged by some to dismiss the special counsel. At least one rank-and-file Republican endorsed moving forward soon with a bill to protect him.
But Senate GOP leaders were not budging from their position against taking preventive action, underscoring the downside they have long seen in being too confrontational against the leader of their party. Even at moments of great uncertainty about what Trump will do next, congressional Republican leaders have opted not to further agitate him.
Here was Mitch McConnell’s response
“I haven’t seen clear indication yet that we needed to pass something to keep him from being removed, because I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell did not elaborate on why he believed that.
Sen. John Cornyn response
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, his top deputy, said he also didn’t believe Mueller would be removed. Asked why, he replied, “I think the consequences of doing so are some that not even the president can anticipate. And I think it would be a mistake.”
Chairman Charles Grassley
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, issued Trump a sharper warning. He said on Fox Business Network it would be “suicide for the president to want, to talk about firing Mueller.” Grassley said the less the president said about it, “the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”
Grassley has refused to consider a pair of bills released last year to protect the special counsel before they were merged into one. A combined bill that a bipartisan group of senators have been working on would institute a 10-day delay before any order from a top Justice Department official to fire a special counsel could take effect, according to a congressional aide with knowledge of the legislation.
The ousted special counsel would have those 10 days to appeal the decision to a three-judge panel before their termination is complete. The bill would also require all staff and documents be preserved during that window.
Sen. Lindsey Graham
“I think we’ve got a compromise,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who proposed one of the bills last year. “But I’m not worried about Mueller being fired.”
Sen. Richard Burr
“He’d have to fire Rosenstein first,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “I’m not worried.”
Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she remained confident that Rosenstein would not take steps to terminate Mueller. “If the president were to fire the deputy attorney general, that would be an extraordinary crisis and a real problem,” she said. “And I just don’t think he’s going to do it.”
This is extremely important. As we have reported Donald Trump has considered firing Rod Rosenstein over the Mueller investigation for his handling of it. Recently Rosenstein signed off on the raiding of President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen which ended up being part of the Mueller investigation. Although it was initially thought to have been to gather information on Michael Cohen’s supposed payments to Stormy Daniels it is now being reported that it was centered around the now infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape.
This makes the Rosenstein firing an even bigger risk than it was before. Having the Senate take action to protect Mueller might end up making Mueller stronger and even more out of control than ever before. Just like after the firing of Comey, which led to the appoint of Mueller the firing of Rosenstein could turn what is already a dangerous investigation into President Trump into a special counsel whose one goal would be the destruction of President Trump.