Republicans who co-authored an effort to bar President Donald Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller now say they don’t see the need right now for their initiative.
After Tuesday’s convictions of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., renewed his push for legislation to bar the president from dismissing Mueller without cause.
“It is past time for the full Senate to vote on it,” Coons said.
The bill — — won the approval of the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee in April, but GOP leadership in the Senate is not considering bringing the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has repeatedly said he does not see a need for the bill.
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“I don’t think he should fire Mueller and I don’t think he is going to. This is a piece of legislation that’s not necessary in my judgment,” McConnell told Fox’s Neil Cavuto in April. His staff pointed to the statement when asked Wednesday about McConnell’s current thinking on the issue.
The bill is authored by Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Coons and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Part of its problem has been that the bill does not have the support of 60 senators, which it would need to advance, according to a Tillis spokesman.
“It’s also important to note that the White House has maintained there are no plans to remove the special counsel,” Tillis’ spokesman Daniel Keylin wrote in an email.
The bill includes a retroactive clause, which would apply to any special counsel appointed after Jan. 1, 2017 and removed before the bill was enacted.
Graham, too, was reluctant to act even after Tuesday’s courtroom developments.
“I’ll let you know if I feel like I need to” move to have that bill considered, said Graham.
“If I felt it needed to be, I would do it. I am firmly in the camp of, let Mueller do his job,” he said.
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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responds to reporters‘ questions concerning President Donald Trump‘s comments that he has the right to pardon himself, repeatedly saying that he had done nothing wrong.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., voted for the measure in committee. Despite some constitutional questions about the bill, Flake said he’d like to see if get a vote on the Senate floor. He doesn’t expect that to happen.
“Doubt it, but I’d like to see it,” Flake said.
Democrats, though, saw a new, pressing need to protect Mueller.
“The Congress of the United States has to protect the special counsel,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a Senate Judiciary Committee member, told CNN.
Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign for part of his 2016 presidential run, was convicted of eight felony charges related to tax evasion and bank fraud.
Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight counts. He implicated Trump as directing payments to two women before the election to keep them from going public with stories about affairs.
“That is a striking level of criminality by individuals close to the President,” Coons said in a statement. “Both prosecutions arose from the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump continues to criticize Mueller and his team and to threaten their ongoing investigation.”
, a fired special counsel could request a judicial review of his firing, and a judicial panel could reinstate the special counsel if his firing was not done for just cause.
Trump has repeatedly called the special counsel investigation a “witch hunt” and suggested that it should be shut down. In recent weeks, he has increased his personal attacks on Mueller, tweeting Mueller is “” and “”
In an interview , Trump suggested he could run Mueller’s investigation if he wanted to.
“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” Trump said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”
Even if the Senate passed the legislation, the bill has been seen as unlikely to pass a Republican-held House of Representatives or earn the signature of Trump.
Lesley Clark and Emma Dumain of McClatchy’s Washington Bureau contributed Brian Murphy:;