Republican senators urge Congress to revisit bill to protect Mueller

Robert Mueller.   Thomson Reuters

In separate television interviews, Senators Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham expressed dismay at reports the Republican president had told the top White House lawyer to order U.S. Justice Department officials to fire Mueller.

It's not clear that lawmakers would have the authority to stop the president with legislation if he made a decision to fire an executive branch appointee like Mueller, who's overseeing the US probe into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 USA election, Gates told NBC's "Meet the Press". "There are some constitutional issues with those bills, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to put that extra safeguard in place given the latest stories, but again, I have faith in the deputy attorney general".

"The most important thing Congress can do right now is to ensure that special counsel Mueller's investigation continues uninterrupted and unimpeded", Schumer said in a statement Sunday.

The bill authored by Tillis and Coons would require "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, or conflict of interest" before a special counsel could be fired, while the Graham and Booker measure would mandate a judicial process to take place before a termination.

But Graham said regardless of whether legislation is approved or not, "I see no evidence that President Trump wants to fire Mr. Mueller now". Another bill introduced by Sens. "I think we'll just continue this investigation to see where it goes", he said.

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Trump denied that he tried to fire Mueller, calling it "fake news".

House Republicans' vote Monday night to release Devin Nunes' memo that alleges mishandling of FISA warrants by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a huge step forward in that plan. Earlier this week, the Justice Department warned the committee it would be "extraordinarily reckless" to release the memo without first supplying it to the agency for review.

Tapper also asked Collins whether she believed the memo written by GOP members of the House intelligence panel should be released. "It is time that we become transparent with all of this, and I'm calling on our leadership to make this available so all Americans can judge for themselves", he said.

Information for this article was contributed by Laura King of Tribune News Service; by Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post; and by Hope Yen and Ken Thomas of The Associated Press.

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