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Bipartisan Senate Bill Is About To Deliver a Major Blow To Trump: Report

President Trump’s plan to fire special counsel Robert Mueller is about to hit a major roadblock. A bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job was gaining momentum Wednesday.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments this week suggesting he had not ruled out firing Mueller, four senators announced that they had merged bipartisan legislation they had introduced separately last August that seeks to protect the special counsel, NBC News reports.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., combined their bill with a measure proposed by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del., to produce the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act.

From NBC News:

The bill would ensure that only a senior official at the Justice Department would have the authority to fire the special counsel, and that the reason would have to be provided in writing. The measure would give the special counsel 10 days to seek judicial review to determine if the dismissal “was for good cause.” It would also try to ensure that documents, materials and staff working on the investigation are preserved.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to include the bipartisan bill that would protect Mueller’s job on the agenda Thursday for a scheduled 10 a.m. committee markup, according to a Grassley spokesman. That could happen if every senator on the panel, which includes 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, agrees to bring up the bill tomorrow.

As noted by the news outlet, “under the Justice Department regulations that set up the office of special counsel, Mueller can be fired only by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s investigation.”

Normally, according to NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams, this power rests with the attorney general, but Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, so it falls to Rosenstein.

The regulations say a special counsel can be fired “for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of departmental policies.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday afternoon that Trump “certainly believes he has the power” to fire Mueller.

But there’s no clear answer as to whether the president has that power, and there is apparently no formal opinion from the Justice Department concluding that the president has that authority.

Grassley said on Fox Business Network on Tuesday that he had “confidence” in the special counsel and that “it would be suicide for the president to fire Mueller.” And Graham warned that getting rid of Mueller or Rosenstein “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

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