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Bill to protect special counsels such as Robert Mueller blocked on the Senate floor again

A bill that would protect special counsels such as Robert Mueller was ...

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 6:09 PM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 6:09 PM

A bill that would protect special counsels such as Robert Mueller was once again not allowed a vote on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey attempted to force the vote by unanimous consent, but that meant it could be blocked by just one senator, as Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah did Wednesday.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued, as recently as Tuesday, that the bill is not necessary since he believes there is no indication President Donald Trump is moving to fire Mueller.

Flake disputed McConnell's argument in his floor speech ahead of his vote being blocked.

"Why shouldn't we be up in arms about this?" Flake said reading a few of Trump's recent tweets about Mueller. "Should we here in the Senate be okay with that? I argue no, we should not be."

"With the President tweeting on a regular basis -- a daily basis -- that the special counsel is conflicted, that he's leading so called '12 angry Democrats' and demeaning and ridiculing him every way," Flake, who is retiring at the end of his term in January, continued. "To be so sanguine about the chances of him being fired is folly for us, I believe."

In his remarks, Booker pointed to Trump's recent tweets about Mueller and his appointment of acting attorney general Matt Whitaker, a vocal critic of Mueller's investigation. In his position as acting attorney general, Whitaker now oversees the Mueller investigation.

"We know the special counsel office is in danger," Booker said.

In his opposition to the bill, Lee cited the late Justice Antonin Scalia's minority opinion in Morrison v. Olson, the Supreme Court case that upheld the process of appointing an independent counsel under a bill passed forty years ago. That law's authority has expired.

"As Justice Scalia explains, we cannot convert an office like this one, an office like the previously existing office of independent counsel, without creating a de facto fourth branch of government fundamentally undermining the principles of the separation of powers that is so core to our liberty," Lee said.

Coons said that he is confident if the bill were brought to a floor vote it would get the 60 votes needed to pass. He says he will continue to push for it.

Aides to the senators knew the bill would be blocked and hope this effort is about creating momentum and keeping pressure on leadership. Flake and Coons had previously tried to push such a bill shortly after Whitaker's appointment earlier this month, following the firing of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That bill was also blocked.

On Tuesday, Senate sources told CNN that Republicans may let the bill come up for a vote, in an effort to win over Flake who has vowed to vote against pending judicial nominations until the measure is considered by the chamber. Flake can not only slow nominations down on the floor but wield more influence as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
Bolivar3915105
Oktibbeha384279
Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
Pearl River313891
Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
Covington207171
Marion203371
Adams200065
Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
Chickasaw179943
Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
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