Watchdog Groups Call On House Speaker Ryan & Majority Leader McConnell To Hold August Pro Forma Sessions & Prevent Attorney General Recess Appointment

Watchdog groups today called on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to follow the approach used in recent years and pass a joint resolution to hold three-day pro forma sessions when Congress goes on recess for August.

In a letter sent today to Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell, the groups stated, “If you were to agree to a longer recess, or do anything to permit one, you would open the door for President Trump to fire independent Special Counsel Robert Mueller and eliminate the Special Counsel office, among other things.”

According to the letter:

A longer recess would enable President Trump to bypass the Senate confirmation process and make a recess appointment of a new Attorney General who is prepared to fire Special Counsel Mueller and shut down the investigation.

The groups noted that both the Speaker and the Majority Leader defended Mr. Mueller when the issue of President Trump firing Robert Mueller was raised in June.

According to the letter:

Speaker Ryan said:

“I think the best thing to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job. I think the best vindication for the president is to let this investigation go on independent and thoroughly. …That to me is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do, hopefully it will happen.” The Hill: GOP Leaders Are Unified: Firing Mueller A Bad Idea (6/13/17)

Majority Leader McConnell said:

“I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller. I think it was a good choice.” The Hill: GOP Leaders Are Unified: Firing Mueller A Bad Idea (6/13/17)

More recently, Speaker Ryan said in an interview:

“Remember, Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by a Republican, who served in the Republican administration and crossed over, I mean, and stayed on until his term ended. But – I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. He’s really sort of anything but. …

“The point is, we have an investigation in the House, an investigation in the Senate, and a special counsel who sort of depoliticizes this stuff and gets it out of the political sphere, and that is, I think, better, to get this off to the side, I think the facts will vindicate themselves and then let’s just go do our job.”

The letter also stated that “[n]umerous other Republican Senators and Representatives have made statements in the past in opposition to President Trump firing Mr. Mueller, and in support of him as Special Counsel.”

The letter concluded:

We strongly urge the House and Senate to pass a resolution for the coming recess that provides for three-day pro forma sessions.

To fail to do so will empower President Trump to begin the process of firing Robert Mueller and shutting down the independent Special Counsel investigation. If that happens because of a recess Attorney General appointment, you will share responsibility with President Trump for that outcome and for the national firestorm that will follow.

The letter was signed by the following organizations and individuals:

Common Cause

CREW

Daily Kos

Demand Progress

Democracy 21

Every Voice

Indivisible

Kathleen Clark

Norman Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer (2009-2011)

People For The American Way

Protect Democracy

Public Citizen

Ravi Gupta, Executive Director of The Arena

Revolving Door Project

Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer (2005-2007)

The full letter to Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell can be found here.

 

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