Republicans say Congress doesn't need to pass law protecting Mueller

Republicans a...

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 6:49 AM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 6:49 AM

Republicans are bluntly warning President Donald Trump to lay off his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, but there is scant support among the GOP to pass legislation that would prevent Trump from firing the special counsel.

Republican Senate leaders threw cold water Monday on passing a bill to protect Mueller, calling it unnecessary despite Trump's increasingly scathing attacks against the special counsel and his team.

But the Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee, told CNN that lawmakers should include legislation to protect Mueller on a must-pass bill to keep the government open past Friday. He warned there would be "total upheaval" in the Senate if Trump were to fire Mueller.

"I can't possibly imagine why Senate leadership wouldn't place a protection in this (spending bill) that's coming through," Corker told CNN. "That would be the perfect place for them to deal with it."

Trump tweeted again Monday that the Russia investigation was a "total WITCH HUNT" and he attacked Mueller by name in a tweet for the first time on Saturday. Trump's lawyer John Dowd, meanwhile, issued a prayer Saturday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would "bring an end" to the Mueller probe.

Republicans have warned there would be severe consequences if Trump moved to fire Mueller following his latest tweets. The most senior Republican in the Senate, Orrin Hatch of Utah, bluntly warned Monday that firing Mueller would be "the stupidest thing" Trump could do.

But Hatch said he didn't see a need to pass any legislation, a sentiment that's echoed by Republican leaders.

"I don't think it's necessary," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told CNN. "I think it'd be a bad mistake for the President to fire the director. And I don't think he'll do it, so I don't see any benefit in trying to pass a law."

Cornyn, a Texan who's the second ranking GOP member of the chamber, noted that any law the Congress passed would then go to the President's desk.

"Obviously, legislation requires a presidential signature. ... I don't see the necessity of picking that fight right now," he told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to weigh in on the President's latest tweets about Mueller. McConnell has long believed he does not need to respond in real time or react to every controversial tweet or other action by Trump, according to people close to the Kentucky Republican.

McConnell's staff would only refer reporters to a January statement from McConnell when he said he didn't think Mueller needed any special protection because he didn't believe the President would fire him. An aide said McConnell's position had not changed since then.

There are two bipartisan Senate bills -- one authored by Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, the other from Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican -- that would make it more difficult to remove Mueller from his post. But there's been little movement on the measures following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter last fall.

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, also said she didn't think the President would fire Mueller when she was asked about passing bills to protect the special counsel, telling CNN there were already institutional protections in place.

"I do not think that the President is going to order anyone to fire Mr. Mueller. That would be a terribly serious mistake," Collins said. "And it's important to remember that the President cannot directly fire Mr. Mueller, only the deputy attorney general can do that under the department's regulations. And he can only do it for good cause. There is no good cause to fire Mr. Mueller."

Cornyn and Collins acknowledged that the President's tweets were concerning, but they didn't think it was a sign he was about to take action against Mueller.

"I mean, I wish he'd quit tweeting about it," Cornyn said, before adding, "but no, they don't concern me that he'd fire him."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Jones292484
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Monroe150673
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Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
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Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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