Lee cited a 30-year-old dissent by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia arguing that protecting an independent counsel from presidential power creates a “fourth branch of government.”
Lee warned that the bill to protect Mueller would “fundamentally [undermine] the principle of separation of powers.”
“Prosecutorial authority in the United States belongs in the Department of Justice.” Lee said... Lee and fellow Republicans, including longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have said there’s no need for legislation because Trump wouldn’t fire Mueller or end his probe. Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, who will succeed Hatch, says the investigation must continue unimpeded, though he isn’t sure if legislation is necessary... Flake, who is leaving office, said Wednesday that his colleagues are blind if they can’t see Trump is already angling to halt Mueller’s investigation.
.. “With the president tweeting on a regular basis, a daily basis, that the special counsel is conflicted, that he is leading the so-called 12 angry Democrats and demeaning and ridiculing him in every way, to be so sanguine about the chances of him getting fired is folly for us,” Flake said on the Senate floor.
.. Coons pointed out that the Scalia opinion Lee cited was a dissent on a 7-1 decision by the high court and that the justices ruled the law creating an independent counsel was constitutional. (The law has since expired and the special counsel now is supervised by the attorney general.).. “At the end of the day, leader McConnell has gotten reassurances from the president that he won’t act against Mueller, but those assurances are undermined every single day when President Trump both tweets untrue criticisms of Robert Mueller and his investigation and does other things that are unexpected or unconventional or unjustified,” Coons told MSNBC.
The problem with the bill, as Judiciary Committee members such as Mike Lee pointed out at the time, is that it’s unconstitutional... But however foolish the firing of Mueller might be, the notion that Congress has the power to prevent the president from discharging anyone who works in the executive branch of government is on very shaky ground.
Last May, when the Justice Department named former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel , virtually all lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — praised the choice.
.. I don’t believe he would ultimately remove Mueller, and the White House and the president’s legal team have indicated that he does not intend to do so. This bill becoming law would remove that narrative from the conversation.
.. I hope congressional Democrats, particularly on the House side, will not react by sending fundraising emails or by running to the closest camera to shamelessly use this bipartisan bill — the result of compromise on both sides — to attack Republicans and advance a partisan agenda. They would be intentionally distorting the spirit and intent of the bill to raise campaign cash and score political points heading into November’s midterm elections. Shame on them if they do so, because they risk harming any chance of the bill becoming law. In fact, such tactics would raise the question of whether that was their intention in the first place, as the bill becoming law could take a political issue off the table for the midterms.
.. Political grandstanding requires no courage — independence and compromise do.