When news broke Monday morning that at least three former Trump campaign associates have been criminally charged as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, President Trump sounded off angrily on Twitter, leaving many nervous that Trump may attempt to fire Mueller or somehow meddle in the investigation going forward.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign, released a statement Monday morning calling on the Senate to act swiftly to protect the federal investigations from the President’s interference.
“It is imperative that Congress take action now to protect the independence of the Special Counsel, wherever or however high his investigation may lead,” Warner said. “Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, must also make clear to the President that issuing pardons to any of his associates or to himself would be unacceptable, and result in immediate, bipartisan action by Congress.”
In his own statement Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed Warner’s concerned and called for lawmakers to be on high alert and ready to act.
“The rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded,” he said. “The President must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way. If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues.”
Republican and Democratic senators introduced two bills earlier this year that would protect special counsel Mueller in the event Trump tried to fire him or interfere with the investigation, but neither piece of legislation has gone anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate.
One bill, authored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), would direct a panel of federal judges to review Mueller’s firing and potentially reinstate him within two weeks if they find Trump had no good cause for his ouster. Another bill, introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would have the judges weigh in and potentially block the firing before it occurs.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.