Sunday June 16, 2019
Home Lead Story The Senate Ju...

The Senate Judiciary Committee is Renewing Its Attempt To Protect Special Counselor Robert Muller

Graham, Tillis, Coons and Booker originally introduced bills in the summer of 2017 after Trump started to criticize the special counsel.

0
//
USA, Trump, senate, FBI
Special counsel Robert Mueller, in charge of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, departs Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 21, 2017. VOA

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are renewing their attempt to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job, sending a signal to President Donald Trump as he keeps up his criticism of Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The legislation, sponsored by incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and three other members, is expected to be introduced this week. The same bill was approved by the panel in April but later blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said it was unnecessary and who allowed the legislation to expire at the end of the year.

Graham is a friend and ally of the president’s but has frequently warned him not to mess with Mueller’s job.

“I think this will serve the country well,” Graham said in a joint statement ahead of the bill’s introduction.

 

USA, senate
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, right, listens, in Greensboro, N.C., Sept. 26, 2014. VOA

Both Graham and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, the bill’s other Republican sponsor, have said they don’t think Trump will move to have Mueller fired.

“I still believe that is true,” Tillis said in the statement. “However, I also believe this bipartisan legislation is good government policy with enduring value across the current and future administrations.”

The legislation would allow any fired special counsel to seek a judicial review within 10 days of removal and puts into law existing Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can only be fired for good cause. It would also order that staff remain and documents be preserved while the matter is pending.

USA, senate
U.S Senators Bob Corker, center, and Chris Coons, right, speak with a South Sudanese refugee during a group discussion at the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda, April 14, 2017. VOA

Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey are also sponsors of the bill.

“This is a time when Republicans and Democrats need to stand up and protect the rule of law in this country,” Coons said in the statement.

Trump regularly criticizes Mueller’s Russia investigation on Twitter, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” In December, he suggested he would do a counter report to challenge Mueller’s probe into contact Trump’s Republican presidential campaign had with Russia. On Dec. 3, he tweeted that Mueller and his staff “only want lies.”

Trump, usa, senate
Protesters gather in front of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2018, as part of a nationwide “Protect Mueller” campaign.. VOA

Graham, Tillis, Coons and Booker originally introduced bills in the summer of 2017 after Trump started to criticize the special counsel. They agreed on a compromise version in early 2018, and the panel approved it with the support of four Republicans on the panel. One of those Republicans, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, tried to force McConnell to pass the bill in December by saying he would vote against all judicial nominees at the end of the year. But McConnell refused to consider the legislation.

Also Read: Protestors Stand Against Derailling Muller’ Probe, Warns Trump

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced a companion bill in the House last week, his first major action as chairman. (VOA)

Next Story

US Senate Upholds Arms Sales to Bahrain, Qatar

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee

0
US, Senate, Sales
FILE - Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters participate in a media demonstration. VOA

The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar, amid continued intensive congressional scrutiny of weapons sales to U.S. allies in the Middle East.

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee and bringing it to the floor for consideration by the full chamber. It also voted 42-57 against discharging the resolution pertaining to Qatar.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the resolutions seek to block the Trump administration’s decisions, announced in May, to sell U.S. missile systems to Bahrain and attack helicopters to Qatar, each valued in the $3 billion range.

“The Middle East is a hot cauldron and continually threatening to boil over,” Paul said ahead of the votes. “I think it’s a mistake to funnel arms into these century-old conflicts.”

US, Senate, Sales
The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales. Pixabay

Paul noted that weapons sent to the Middle East can wind up in the hands of America’s adversaries.

“In Iran to this day, they still have some U.S. weapons that are left over from the weapons the U.S. supplied the shah [U.S.-backed former Iranian leader overthrown in 1979]. In Iraq, some of the weapons we gave them to fight Iran were still there when we returned to fight Saddam Hussein. In Afghanistan, some of the weapons we gave to the Mujahideen to fight the Russians [in the 1980s] were still there when we returned to fight the Taliban [after the 9-11 attacks of 2001],” Paul said.

Last year, the Senate also defeated an effort by the Kentucky Republican to block the sale of rocket systems to Bahrain.

Bipartisan backing for such sales endured on Thursday, as even some senators who voted in favor of the discharge petitions as a procedural matter told VOA they do not support the underlying resolutions of disapproval.

Also Read- Researchers Find Overweight Kids Have Doubled Risk of High Blood Pressure

“I support the [arms] sales,” said the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “On the process, I’m voting to preserve the [Senate’s] institutional rights…for at least a debate to be had over the sales, but I support the underlying sales.”

Other lawmakers spoke out against the discharge petitions as well as the resolutions.

“If they [Gulf states] don’t buy arms from us, they’re going to buy them from China or Russia,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told VOA. “Look, these countries are not democracies, we recognize that. But our interests are aligned, particularly in containing and combating Iran.”

 Bahrain has taken part in the Saudi-led coalition waging an air campaign over Yemen that has resulted in a staggering death toll in the country’s bloody civil war.
US, Senate, Sales
FILE – Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 5, 2019. VOA

Asked if the bloodshed in Yemen gave him pause about U.S. arms sales to the region, Cornyn said, “It does. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do about it. It’s a civil war that the Iranians are trying to take advantage of, arming the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia. I don’t think that should paralyze us, even though it’s a serious concern.”

The Senate could vote as early as next week on separate resolutions disapproving $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In the House of Representatives, four Democrats filed resolutions Wednesday that, if passed, would block the licenses required for the sales to move ahead.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen.

Also Read- Diet Rich in Calories Cause Brain Health to Deteriorate Faster

Aside from the Yemeni conflict, lawmakers from both parties have repeatedly protested Saudi Arabia’s role in the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. (VOA)