On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted, in reference to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s handling of documents requested by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee, “…at some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
That comment by a sitting President, to “get involved” in the Special Counsel’s critical investigation into Russian interference in our elections and Presidential obstruction of justice, shows that the threat that Trump might cross a redline and interfere with the investigation is very real.
This comes after reports that Trump has sought to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller on two different occasions, and that he seemed to leave the door open to trying again the day the FBI raided the home of his attorney Michael Cohen. These facts, along with ongoing smear campaign of the Mueller investigation and Rosenstein’s oversight of it, make one thing clear: we need bipartisan congressional legislation to protect the Special Counsel’s work.
As Trump well knows, DAG Rosenstein is Mueller’s boss because Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ has recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 election. Rosenstein has sole authority to terminate the investigation or fire Mueller, but he has shown he is unwilling to do so without cause. This means that those who want to end the inquiry have begun to take a different tactic: devise an excuse to fire Rosenstein and let Trump replace him with someone who would shut the investigation down.
As many have pointed out, some House Republicans seem to be trying to draw Rosenstein into a trap, by continuing to subpoena more and more materials critical to the Special Counsel’s investigation. This is a transparent attempt to lay the groundwork for the president to fire Rosenstein, and in effect, end the investigation. They even seem ready to do the firing themselves and relieve President Trump of having to take the heat for it: this group of House Republicans recently drafted articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. These representatives would rather get Trump and his campaign off the hook for any foul play they may have committed than let justice run its course and let the American people know all we can about Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
In America, we have a simple rule that no one is above the law. Should either Mueller or Rosenstein be fired (or should Trump pardon key witnesses), it would embroil us in a constitutional crisis. In order to avoid this, one necessary step is the passage of legislation to protect the investigation.
The bipartisan moment for such an action is growing. A number of Republican senators have already joined in efforts to pass such legislation. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined with their Democratic colleagues to introduce a bill to protect Mueller from being fired. And last week, the bill was approved by a vote of 14-7 through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican senators Jeff Flake (AZ) and Chuck Grassley (IA) joined with those voting yea to approve the bill. We applaud this show of bipartisanship, and thank these senators for putting country above party and recognizing that protecting the rule of law and election security is crucial.
This bill enjoys bipartisan support (one Democratic senator believes the bill would pass the 60 vote threshold if brought to the floor for a vote), but so far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has declared the Senate will not take that step. We must put enough pressure on Leader McConnell to change his mind.
How do we do that? If you live in Iowa, you can attend Senator Joni Ernst’s and Senator Grassley’s town hall events this week and demand they ask Leader McConnell to bring S.2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to the floor. Everyone else can call 866-888-5744 to be connected to your senators and tell them to urge the Senate Leader for a floor vote.
The Special Counsel’s investigation must be allowed to play out. We the people deserve to understand how foreign countries influenced our elections so that we can ensure it never happens again. Democracy demands it. Call your senators today to help get this bipartisan bill passed.