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Republicans Just Blocked a Bipartisan Bill to Protect Robert Mueller
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49544"><span class="small">Paul McLeod, BuzzFeed News</span></a>   
Thursday, 15 November 2018 09:17

McLeod writes: "Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says he will block all of President Trump's judicial nominees until his bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller goes to a vote."

Special counsel Robert Mueller. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Special counsel Robert Mueller. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Republicans Just Blocked a Bipartisan Bill to Protect Robert Mueller

By Paul McLeod, BuzzFeed News

15 November 18

Sen. Jeff Flake vowed not to vote for any more of President Trump's judicial nominees until the Senate votes to protect Mueller, putting pressure on McConnell to change his mind.

epublican Sen. Jeff Flake says he will block all of President Trump’s judicial nominees until his bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller goes to a vote.

Flake’s move comes after Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and appointed Matt Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly criticized Mueller’s investigation, as acting attorney general. Trump had repeatedly railed against Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Flake has long been a critic of Trump but has mostly declined to use his leverage in the razor-thin Senate to hold up Republican judges. That changed Wednesday when Flake sought unanimous consent to bring his bill to protect Mueller forward for debate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, blocking the bill.

Flake then declared he will vote to reject all judicial nominees. “This is not a moment for our national leadership to be weak or irresolute,” he said on the Senate floor.

Flake is the swing vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and, with Democrats, can vote down judicial nominations. McConnell could still bring these nominations forward to the Senate floor against the will of the committee, but Flake said he doubts this would happen because it would alienate GOP senators.

“I’d be surprised, because there’s such a slim margin on the floor. Some members are sticklers for precedent and you don’t want to get in the habit of basically nullifying a committee’s actions,” said Flake.

McConnell has made confirming conservative judges to lifetime appointments one of his top priorities under the Trump administration. Dozens of nominations hang in the balance. If he were to bypass the Judicial Committee, Flake would need the help of just one more Republican senator to kill nominations. Flake said he is in talks with other Republicans to team up with him, but did not identify who.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Mueller protection bill months ago, but Mitch McConnell repeatedly refused to bring it forward for a vote. He argued the bill is unnecessary because there is no sign that Trump will fire Mueller. Flake argues that is no longer true.

“The justification given in April for not bringing it to the floor for a vote was that nobody was being fired, nothing to see here, special counsel Mueller was not in any danger. That clearly is not the case now,” said Flake Wednesday.

The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, would require that the special counsel could only be fired for good cause, and would allow for the courts to overturn the firing if good cause could not be proved.

Coons said he is certain the bill has the needed support of 60 senators to pass the Senate. But it has always faced very long odds of becoming law, given that it would require Trump signing on to a measure that limits his own powers.

Technically Trump cannot fire Mueller on his own. Under current Justice Department regulations, only the attorney general can fire Mueller.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the department’s number two official, had overseen the Mueller investigation since Sessions recused himself last year. Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general puts him in charge of the probe, but Democrats have called on him to recuse himself as well.

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+4 # Harvard72 2018-11-15 11:58
Trump adheres to no "norms" of a President. There is no reason to think that he will follow what would be expected of a President. Therefore, Mitch McConnell continues to be a useless (to the American people) lying piece of garbage. If Trump has the new lackey fire Mueller or otherwise end the formal investigation, what is McConnell going to do at that point? Is he going to say, "Oh I was wrong?" No, the horse will be well out of the barn, and there is nothing that will be done by the inexcusable Republican Senators. This figleaf by McConnell that "we should not worry and we do not need the legislation because there is nothing to worry about" is going to be listed as the single worst "discrete" act/non-act of McConnell when the pressure becomes too much for Trump and he does tell Whitaker to do his thing.
+5 # chapdrum 2018-11-15 12:48
Nothing new here. Republican politicians displayed their lack of patriotism well before this predictable vote.
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-15 19:23
I've never understood the reason why Mueller needs special "protection." No one is threatening. He seems to have all the power on earth. If he were to be fired -- and this is not likely at all -- his work would pass to another employee of the Justice Department who would probably do a much better job of investigating the charges that Mueller is investigating.

Mueller is clearly a corrupt FBI man. He has shown no interest in interviewing people who actually know something about the case he is supposedly working on. Why not interview Assange if he wants to know who stole the DNC or Podesta emails. Or Craig Murray. Why not look into the murder of Seth Rich? All the attention on people like Papadopolus, Flynn, and others who were totally minor players looks more like a vendetta against Trump. Mueller seems to want to make everyone associated with Trump suffer. What's the point in that?

Rosenstein will probably be fired soon. He has actually committed very many breaches of professional conduct. He has lied to congress over and over. He's refused subpoenas. I note no one is proposing a bill to protect Rosenstein.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-11-16 07:11
The Wash Po reports this morning that Julian Assange has been charged. The indictment is sealed now and the prosecutors have asked the judge to keep it a secret. But the indictment has been filed in court. Now the problem is to get Assange in custody of the US.

We know that Ecuador will no longer protect Assange. It is in talks with the British government about handing him over. It has said the best solution would be for Assange to simply walk out of the Embassy on his own. But of course there are British police and FBI surrounding the Embassy, so Assange would be picked up instantly.

Looks like Mueller is closing in on his real target all along. Shutting down WikiLeaks is a much bigger prize than impeaching Trump, who will be gone in 2 years anyway.

Those who want to protect the Mueller Probe are complicit in the destruction of WikiLeaks, Assange, and watchdog media. For me, I think it is OK for Mueller to do what he originally announced -- i.e., find out if Russians hacked the 2016 election. Then he should stay within those limits. Do nothing else. Leave WikiLeaks and Assange alone. But of course, Mueller's theory is that WikiLeaks is a Russian dis-information operation.