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Senate introduces two bills to protect Mueller from Trump firing

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 8/4/2017 JASON SILVERSTEIN
Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the investigation into the Trump campaign. - SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by New York Daily News Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the investigation into the Trump campaign. - SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate can agree on one cause: Saving Robert Mueller.

Senators unveiled two bipartisan bills Thursday to protect Mueller, the special counsel leading the federal probe into the Trump campaign, from a potential firing by President Trump.

The bills come after months of speculation that Trump might give Mueller a heave-ho, as he did for FBI Director James Comey. They were introduced just hours before news broke that Mueller has impaneled a grand jury for his investigation. 

The measures suggest two different tactics to ensure Trump could not oust Mueller without a fight.

One bill, from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), says the Justice Department officials who would be tasked with firing Mueller would have to make their case before a judicial panel before doing so.

The other measure, from Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would allow Mueller to challenge his firing before a panel of three federal judges — but it does not necessarily stop Trump from axing him.

The bills speak to the anxieties from both parties that Mueller’s spot isn’t safe as Trump continues railing against the investigation into his campaign’s potential Russia ties. Trump refers to the probe as a "witch hunt" against him.

The grand jury indicates Mueller's inquiry is ramping up and will continue for several months. 

Trump abruptly fired Comey, who was initially leading the probe, in May. He later admitted he wanted to cut Comey to clear his presidency of “the cloud” from the Russia investigation.

Because Mueller is a special counsel, Trump does not have direct authority to fire him. That power would normally rest with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but since Sessions recused himself from the probe over his own Russian relations, the final word falls to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Trump, however, could still fire Rosenstein or pressure him to remove Mueller.

Rosenstein said in July he had seen no cause to stop Mueller’s work.

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