Powerful Republican bows to Jeff Flake's in demand for vote on bill protecting Mueller investigation
In a committee hearing Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman essentially honored departing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s vow to vote against any judicial nominee until legislation to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation is brought to the floor. Grassley is holding over judicial nominees in the committee, at least temporarily, and basically backed Flake.
“It’s legitimate that the bill be brought up,” he said after delaying the votes on nominees. “It would satisfy me if it became law because I voted for it.” However, that doesn’t mean he’s going to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the legislation. “I’m not going to be in forefront with Flake advocating that the leader do so and so, but I wouldn’t do anything to stop it,” he said. “Usually, a chairman of a committee if he doesn’t want a bill brought up can … object to unanimous consent.”
For his part, Flake says that if it’s brought to the floor, “it will pass,” and suggested that McConnell doesn’t want to anger Trump, so he’s refusing to bring it to the floor. The legislation would codify the existing Justice Department regulations that say a special counsel can only be fired for good cause, and can only be fired by a Justice Department official who has been confirmed by the Senate. That would prevent Trump’s lackey and acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker from firing Mueller. It would create judicial review for any firing, giving a federal judge ten days after a termination of a special counsel to decide if it was for good cause and the ability to stop the firing.
There are still 30 nominees that have been passed out of Judiciary and are awaiting a floor vote. According to one Republican senator, the odious Tom Cotton from Arkansas, McConnell “made a commitment” to keep the Senate in even up to New Year’s Day to get these judges through. So it’s kind of a game of chicken now between Flake and McConnell. Grassley, for one, is taking Flake seriously.