On the first day of the new Congress, New York Representative Jerrold Nadler reintroduced legislation preventing President Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller for anything but serious misconduct or other “good cause,” and would allow Mueller or any other future special counsel to challenge their dismissal in court.
The bill, titled “Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act,” received bipartisan backing in its first introduction, but Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked the legislation from receiving a vote in the Senate, according to the New York Daily News. With a new majority in the House of Representatives, and with Nadler now presiding over the House Judiciary Committee, Nadler is attempting to push the bill through again.
“For the last two years, House Republican leadership sat idly by, and often joined in, as President Trump attempted more than once to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and launched serious attacks on senior Department of Justice officials in an effort to end the Russia investigation,” said Nadler 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.”
ICYMI: I joined @BrianLehrer to talk about @HouseJudiciary's priorities over the next year, the immoral border wall, and the need to protect Special Counsel Mueller's investigation from interference. Listen here: https://t.co/KAiUiO39Cb— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 3, 2019
The move is the latest development in a political game of chess between the Trump administration and his opponents. Nadler’s move comes after President Trump fired former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointed Mueller critic Matthew Whittaker as acting attorney general before nominating another Mueller critic, William Barr, to become the new attorney general. Whittaker refused to recuse himself from oversight of the investigation after a Department of Justice ethics committee advised him to step aside.
Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and Russian interests has so far resulted in the indictment of five former associates of President Trump as well as over 20 Russian nationals. There have been multiple instances in which President Trump wanted to have Mueller fired, according to The Hill.
Nadler has vowed to take on the Trump administration and hold them accountable for any wrongdoing.
“As the Special Counsel announces 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 said.
As the incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Nadler is a key Democrat who will likely begin investigations into President Trump’s dealings this year, and his committee would preside over any potential impeachment hearings. However, Nadler and other Democrats have publicly expressed a desire to focus on passing legislation, according to CNN.