The bill would apply retroactively to May 17, 2017 — the day Robert Mueller was appointed
Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite, photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
03 of August 2017 13:03:19
WASHINGTON – Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee moved Thursday to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Donald Trump, putting forth new legislation that aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations.Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said they introduced legislation letting any special counsel for the Department of Justice challenge his or her removal in court. A three-judge panel would review the dismissal within 14 days of the challenge.The bill would apply retroactively to May 17, 2017 — the day Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign."This is something that lives long beyond this" situation involving Mueller, Tillis told reporters. "And I think it's also something that begins to re-establish the reputation for independence in the Department of Justice."Tillis was among many GOP senators who defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Trump criticized him for recusing himself from the Justice Department's investigation into suspected Russian interference in the election. Trump has threatened to fire Sessions, a former Alabama senator."So this is really woven into a series of things that I think we should do to help re-establish the solid reputation of DOJ," he said.Tillis said introducing the measure Thursday would prompt discussions among Republican senators about the move over the Senate's summer recess, which was expected to begin at the end of the week.
MARY CLARE JALONICK