Congress must protect the Mueller investigation
Congress should pass a bill that insulates Special Counsel Robert Mueller from any attempt by President Donald Trump to fire him. It is the best way to reduce the potential for the constitutional crisis that would follow a firing.
Approving such a bill would place the president in the position of either signing it and acknowledging the importance of allowing the independent probe to continue unimpeded, or vetoing it and making the case for why Congress needed to act.
In that case, patriotic Republicans would need to set politics aside and join Democrats in overriding the veto, assuring Mueller finished the investigation unimpeded.
Senators have introduced two such bills. The “Special Counsel Independence Protection Act” filed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and backed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is the better choice. It would require a federal judge to approve the removal of any special counsel and only if misconduct or dereliction is proven.
Of merit, but too easy to circumvent, is the “Special Counsel Integrity Act” introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. It would allow removal only for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause.”
Alas, not many Republicans appear ready to confront the president with such legislation, betting that he will not do something so reckless. Trump would likely have to begin by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and who has said he sees no evidence of misconduct, then work his way down the ranks until he finds a subordinate to carry out the firing.
Or Trump could ignore the procedures established by Congress and directly move to fire Mueller.
It hardly seems far-fetched. The president’s rants about the special counsel probe continue unabated.
"Special Council (sic) is told to find crimes, whether crimes exist or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller to be Special Council (sic), I still am opposed,” Trump tweeted on Thursday, mangling opinions expressed by attorney Alan Dershowitz in a Hill op-ed.
Asked in a recent interview if firing Mueller would be an impeachable act, Graham replied, “Probably so, if he did it without cause,” Graham replied.
“What the president will have done is stopped an investigation in(to) whether or not his campaign colluded with the Russians …I can’t see it being anything other than (for) a corrupt purpose,” Graham elaborated.
That’s a warning Trump and Graham’s fellow Republicans need to hear.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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