- President Donald Trump lobbed attacks on special counsel chief Robert Mueller over the weekend, invoking his name for the first time.
- Senate Republicans expressed little concern that Trump could attempt to oust Mueller, a possibility that has sparked fears of a constitutional crisis.
- Current legislation to put barriers in place to shield Mueller is stalled in the Judiciary Committee.
WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans collectively shrugged off the possibility that President Donald Trump would attempt to oust Robert Mueller as head of the special counsel investigating the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election after a weekend of personal attacks and cries of a “WITCH HUNT” from the commander in chief.
Trump crossed a new milestone over the weekend in attacking the investigation by calling out Mueller by name.
“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday morning. “Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Coupled with past reports that Trump has indeed mused about igniting the process to fire Mueller, Senate Republicans expressed little concern – even as the president embarked on a slew of firings across his administration.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. “I think it would be a big mistake and I think he’s – that’s the kind of advice he’s getting from everybody.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “made very clear that he would not follow an unlawful order and that there was no cause” to fire Mueller and that she wishes Trump would “would stop commenting and tweeting” about him.
Others conveyed moderate concern over the president’s tirade against Mueller and the special counsel. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider that Trump should not take action against Mueller.
“I don’t think the president would do that. He shouldn’t do it,” Grassley said. “And the best thing for him as president since after almost one year there’s been no show of collusion, seems to me like he’s coming out looking pretty good at this point and that he ought to just let it play out.”
“I hope that’s not his intention,” added Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune.
Potential legislation to stop Trump from ousting Mueller is stalled
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said his legislation that would put barriers in place to prevent Mueller’s ousting is still being reconciled with a similar bill, but that “unless there’s some reason to fire Mueller, that’s not gonna happen and I don’t see a reason.”
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis reiterated his support for legislation to safeguard Mueller and the investigation, writing on Twitter Monday afternoon, “Robert Mueller should be able to continue his investigation unimpeded, which is one of the reasons I introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act with” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.
“One thing, that’s a constitutional question that I don’t have an answer for,” Grassley said of a potential firing. “But that’s something we’re gonna cross if the two bills in my committee, the differences get worked out. Then we’re gonna face the constitutional issue but right now, I don’t have to deal with that until you get the two different versions of it together.”
Cornyn said he does not think such legislation would be necessary because there is not “any chance” Trump would oust Mueller.
“I think the consequences would be so overwhelming that it’s just not gonna happen,” he said.
Thune said he didn’t believe any bill constraining Trump’s ability to remove a special counsel was necessary.
“But I think that they would be well served not to do anything that messes with or disrupts this process,” he said.
As Trump’s scrutiny of Mueller heats up and becomes more frequent, Republicans have continued to dismiss concerns that any action might be taken against the special counsel, which could prompt a constitutional crisis.