After First Mueller Charges, Senators Warn Of Trump Interference And Pardons

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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.