Watchdog Groups Urge Senators to Support Bipartisan Bills To Protect Special Counsel Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election

In a letter sent today to Senators, watchdog groups and experts called on the Senate to support bipartisan legislation to protect the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (See below for a full list of groups signing the letter.)

The letter urged Senators to support two bills designed to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

Legislation (S.1735) introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) would require approval from a federal three-judge panel before a special counsel could be dismissed.

Legislation (S.1741) introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) would allow a special counsel who was fired without cause to seek review and reinstatement from a panel of three federal judges.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on these bills on September 26, 2017.

The letter strongly urged Senators “to support and cosponsor these bipartisan bills and thereby to go on public record in opposition to any attempt by President Trump to fire Mr. Mueller or interfere with his investigation.”

The letter noted:

President Trump has already interfered with this investigation and with the administration of justice by firing FBI Director James Comey, who was heading the FBI investigation into this matter. In President Trump’s own words, explaining his firing of Comey, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

President Trump has also reportedly attempted to interfere with the Russia investigation by asking two top intelligence officials to help him push back against the FBI investigation. The officials appropriately refused to do so.

President Trump has also reportedly explored whether he can pardon himself and his children in regard to the investigation, and whether he could undermine or fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

The letter continued:

We believe it is essential to protect Special Counsel Mueller and his investigation from any interference by President Trump.

The letter also addressed President Trump’s pardon of Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio and said:

In issuing the Arpaio pardon, President Trump made clear he is prepared to use his pardon powers for political purposes. We strongly urge you to go on public record in opposition to any effort by President Trump to interfere with the Special Counsel investigation by pardoning himself or any others involved in the Russia investigation.

Signers to the letter include:

Center for Media and Democracy
Center for Popular Democracy
Common Cause
Democracy 21
Democracy Spring
End Citizens United
Every Voice
Free Speech for People
Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011
Norman Ornstein
People For the American Way
Protect Democracy
Public Citizen
Revolving Door Project
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2005-2007
Stand Up America
The Loyal Opposition
Voices for Progress
Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund

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