The president wants to keep his option to fire Mueller open.
Since Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to head the Justice Department’s Russia investigation back in May, Washington has speculated about whether President Donald Trump will end up firing him.
And according to a new report from Politico’s Josh Dawsey and Elana Schor, the president still seems to badly want to keep that option open.
Dawsey and Schor write that shortly after Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced a bill that would let Mueller appeal his firing in court, Trump called up Tillis, signaled he was “unhappy” with the bill and said he didn’t want it to pass.
Tillis is a first-term senator who hasn’t been particularly known as a moderate or really for taking any high-profile stances at all. So it was a bit surprising when, earlier this month, he co-wrote a bill with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) to protect Mueller from Trump, and went on television to tout it.
Justice Department regulations already state that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause,” but Tillis and Coons’s bill — the Special Counsel Integrity Act — would make that regulation the law of the land. It would also state that the special counsel could only be fired by a Senate-confirmed official.
Perhaps most importantly, the bill would also let a special counsel appeal his firing in court. If judges find that the firing was improper, the special counsel would be reinstated.
On August 6, Tillis appeared on Fox News Sunday and said there was “no question” that the bill was designed to prevent Trump from improperly firing Mueller. He also appeared on ABC’s This Week and said he wasn’t sure that he agreed with Trump that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt.”
Trump called Tillis the next day to communicate that he didn’t want the bill passed.