Days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly impaneled a grand jury in the probe into Russian election interference , the White House on Sunday brushed off questions about whether President Donald Trump intends to fire Mueller.
“The president has not even discussed that. The president is not discussing firing Bob Mueller,” presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said on ABC’s This Week program.
Before adjourning for a nearly one-month break, the Senate saw bipartisan legislation introduced that would make it harder to fire Mueller or any independent investigator in the future, by mandating a judge’s review of the dismissal.
“It [the bill] provides the president the opportunity to consult with attorney general and the Department of Justice, potentially have one [special counsel] removed, but have that subject to a judicial review so that we make sure it’s done for proper cause,” said North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis, also on This Week.
The president has repeatedly slammed the Russia investigation, which is looking into whether any Trump campaign aides illegally colluded with Russian interests and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI chief James Comey, who was leading that agency's Russia probe before Mueller was appointed. However, Mueller continues to enjoy a sterling reputation on Capitol Hill.
“Bob Mueller is one of the most respected senior federal law enforcement officials in modern American history. I’ll remind you, he’s a Republican who was appointed by a Republican,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, speaking on ABC. “It’s in President Trump’s interest, it’s in the interest of protecting rule of law, for Bob Mueller to be allowed to continue this investigation to its conclusion.”
The investigation of Russian meddling remains an unrelenting irritant to the Trump administration.
Conway argued that months of investigations have yielded next to nothing.
“We were promised direct evidence of interfering and changing the electoral results,” she said. “There’s none of that.”
The grand jury will examine evidence and testimony collected in the Justice Department probe, an endeavor that may or may not lead to charges being filed.