The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday protect special counsel Robert Mueller's job, putting the matter in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he won't let the bill reach Senate floor.
While Republicans have said the legislation is not about Mueller's investigation, Trump's flirtation with firing the special counsel or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises Mueller, loomed over the hearing.
Senators from both parties said that if Trump did fire Mueller it would be "politically disastrous" and would create "a constitutional crisis".
Four Republicans joined with 10 Democrat senators to ensure the proposal's success, with noted anti-Trump Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Graham and Tillis, and would codify Department of Justice regulations that say only a senior DOJ official can fire Mueller or another special counsel, according to The Hill. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Graham and Tillis voted with the Democrats to advance the measure to the full Senate. Even if it were passed by the Senate, the bill would then need to pass the House, where several key Republicans have been vocal critics of Mueller's probe, and Trump would need to sign it.
"The American people must know the truth, and this bill should now be brought before the full Senate for debate and a vote", Sen. To be clear, the president should allow Mueller to finish his investigation into Russia's election interference in a timely fashion.
"I believe this bill should be considered by the full Senate, and I think my amendment improves it", Grassley said.
Cruz has expressed concerns about an overreaching special counsel investigation.
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Republicans who supported the bill could be at risk of angering Trump and some of his supporters they represent. "And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won't", said Trump.
Under the bill, Mueller can only be fired for good cause and the reasons must be provided in writing. But the four lawmakers who wrote the legislation - GOP Sens.
The committee also added new reporting requirements into the bill, including notification when a special counsel is appointed or removed and requiring a report be given to Congress after an investigation wraps up; that report would detail the investigation's findings and prosecution decisions.
Democrats had initially opposed Grassley's amendment, saying it could undermine the investigation if the special counsel had to reveal too much to Congress.
Many Republicans argue that it is unconstitutional or unnecessary. But White House legislative director Marc Short said last weekend that he couldn't rule it out in the long term because it's not known "how far off this investigation is going to veer".
After the raid, Trump said the Mueller investigation is "an attack on our country" and is "corrupt".
The legislation stalled but was revived after Trump fumed about a raid of his personal lawyer's office, in an investigation overseen by federal prosecutors in NY - not Mueller - and called the Mueller investigation "an attack on our country" and "corrupt".