Four Republicans help move bill to protect special counsel from improper firing

Hatch says firing the special counsel may lead to ‘impeachment,’ but he’s against a bill to protect Mueller

A key Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller - whom President Trump had repeatedly criticized over the Russian Federation investigation.

The measure passed in a 14-7 vote, with the dissensions coming from GOP senators, and comes over repeated worries in the media that Trump will fire Mueller, although the president has only said, "We'll see what happens". Jeff Flake (AZ) and Chuck Grassley (IA). John Cornyn (R-Texas), who opposed the measure, there are no plans to give the bill a vote on the Senate floor or in the House, and Trump would never sign it. That's okay, Sen. Grassley said, because with all due respect it's not his decision.

Most of Thursday's hearing centered on a debate about the constitutionality of Congress' curbing certain executive powers.

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"What I will not do-and what I urge my colleagues to reject-is subvert our constitutional design in favor of momentary urgencies", he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, Trump lashed out over an FBI raid targeting his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, heightening fears that he might retaliate by dismissing Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation.

Tillis and Graham have said they do not believe that Trump will fire Mueller, despite reports that the president has considered firing the special counsel on several occasions. "Because special counsel investigations only occur where there is a conflict of interest within the executive branch, special counsel investigations are usually matters of great national concern", Grassley said, according to USA Today. An amendment from Grassley added additional reporting requirements from the Justice Department to Congress about special counsels.

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But the bill's passage does send a strong message to the White House. "I've taken the position - and I don't have to take this position and maybe I'll change - that I will not be involved with the justice department".

In effect, if a court determines the special counsel wasn't fired for "good cause", they would be reinstated.

Removing Mueller or Rosenstein with the objective of removing Mueller "would blow up in his face". Republicans For the Rule of Law called the committee's vote "an important step toward protecting the probity of Robert Mueller's investigation".

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