Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has introduced a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.
The congressman brought up the legislation on Thursday as the first order of business after the new Congress was sworn in. The bill seeks to provide a layer of protection for special counsel Mueller, which would allow him to challenge in court any move to fire him.
Nadler introduced the same bill in the last session of Congress, but it died in the Republican-led committee at the time.
Democrats have consistently pushed for a law that would provide recourse if Trump moves to dismiss Mueller. But McConnell and other Republicans have said such a bill is not necessary.
Trump has always called the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election a “witch hunt.” And The New York Times has reported on multiple instances where Trump has vocalized his desire to have Mueller fired.
Nadler’s bill is seen as the first step in Democratic efforts to scrutinize President Donald Trump, his finances and his administration’s policies.
The measure would give Mueller – or any special counsel – the right to swiftly appeal his termination to a panel of federal judges. In the Senate, a similar bill originated as a bipartisan measure. But in the House, it is being reintroduced by Judiciary Committee Democrats alone. This shows that oversight of Trump and the federal law enforcement agencies will be a highly partisan process now that Democrats have taken over the House majority.
Previously, House Democrats have charged that GOP lawmakers in charge of the House were trying to help the president undermine Mueller.
The Democrats now in charge say that the more Mueller’s probe progresses, the more endangered he may be and the more likely it is that Trump will try to fire him.
Democrats also believe that acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker will not stand up to Trump if he orders Mueller’s firing. Whitaker has already ignored Justice Department ethics recommendations to recuse himself from supervising Mueller’s probe.
“As the Special Counsel announced new indictments and guilty pleas from Trump’s closest allies and associates, it’s clear that the threat to the Mueller investigation will only grow stronger,” Nadler wrote in a statement. “Now is the time for Congress to finally act and pass this legislation to protect the integrity of the Special Counsel’s investigation and the rule of law.”
Even if Nadler’s bill passes the House, it will probably die in the Republican-controlled Senate. But the fact that House Democrats made the Mueller protection bill their opening move shortly after taking over the majority shows the importance to them of the special counsel’s probe.
Nadler’s bill will will likely never become law while Trump is president, but it demonstrates how Democrats in the House will use their committee chairmanships to investigate all aspects of Trump and his corrupt administration. And that is a big reason why the American people put them in power in the first place.