Donald Trump was put on further notice that any action to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller from his post will not pass without a serious fight, after competing bipartisan bills in the Senate were introduced Thursday, Politico reports.
With different approaches but same mission, the two pieces of legislation aim to require judicial review of any action to fire Mueller, leader of the independent investigation of the alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The first measure presented by Senate Judiciary Committee members Thom Tillis and Chris Coons, allow Mueller to oppose his ousting by a panel on three federal judges, but only after he has been terminated.
Contrary to this, the proposal from Senators Lindsey Graham and Cory Booker would allow the judicial panel before the termination, and explain the reasons for the action.
The president has long opposed the different probes against Russia, which have sparked tensions in D.C. and diverted from Trump’s policy goals. Trump has also opposed Mueller for hiring several attorneys who have worked with Democratic candidates, which raised the question of whether the special counsel is close to former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by the president in May. The allegations of the close relationship between Comey and Mueller have been disputed by sources close to both.
Top aides of Trump have said that the subject has come up, although the president has stopped short of saying he plans to oust the special counsel.
“Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong,” Graham told reporters last week.
Appearing Thursday on CNN, Tillis said he wasn’t concerned that Trump would move to fire Mueller but he said the bill was still needed to show bipartisan support against the idea. “If there is a termination, we just want to make sure through judicial review it was warranted,” he said.
Another co-sponsor of the Tillis-Coons bill, Senator Tom Carper told CNN that the bill “sends a pretty clear message” to Trump that he would be sparking a much bigger fight if he did move to oust Mueller. “It’s symbolic,” Carper said. “But is an important symbol. It’s a bipartisan symbol.”
Beyond the prospect of Trump’s veto pen, it’s unclear how legislation to protect Mueller would fare on the other end of the Capitol.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said his “best advice” to the president was to “let Robert Mueller do his job.”