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Republicans face renewed pressure on Mueller protection bill

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Senate Republicans are facing renewed pressure to pass legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with a handful of GOP senators urging their leadership to hold a vote now that President Donald Trump has pushed out Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons say they will try to bring up the legislation for a vote on the Senate floor Wednesday, citing Sessions' departure and his replacement's criticism of Mueller's Russia investigation. While the effort to force action Wednesday isn't expected to be successful, several other Republicans have said they would vote for the bill, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Maine Senator Susan Collins and the legislation's GOP co-sponsors, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to hold a vote on the legislation, saying it's unnecessary because Mueller won't be fired. McConnell, or another Republican in his stead, is expected to object to Flake and Coons' request to hold a vote.

"We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he's never said he wants to shut it down," McConnell said Wednesday. "I've never heard anybody (at the White House) say they want to shut it down. I think it's in no danger, so I don't think any legislation is necessary."

Democrats who will take the House majority in January have said shielding Mueller's investigation will be one of their top priorities. Along with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, they have called for the special counsel bill to be added to a year-end spending bill that must pass in December to avoid a partial government shutdown.