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WASHINGTON, D.C. Sept. 19, 2017 – A bipartisan group of experts issued a letter today calling on members of the U.S. Senate to support efforts to protect against the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Protecting the Special Counsel would ensure that the ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election continues.
Mueller is investigating a growing list of President Donald Trump’s administration officials, former campaign staff and Trump family members. Mueller is looking into charges of Trump campaign collusion with Russia, as well as the possibility that Trump later obstructed justice.
In late August, U.S. Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced bipartisan legislation, the “Special Counsel Independence Protection Act” (S. 1735), which would require approval from a federal three-judge panel before a special counsel could be dismissed. Also in August, Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced bipartisan legislation, the “Special Counsel Integrity Act” (S. 1741), to allow a special counsel who is fired without cause to seek review and reinstatement from a panel of three federal judges.
Experts who signed the bipartisan letter include:
- Richard Painter, former ethics czar for President George W. Bush;
- Norm Eisen, former ethics czar for President Barack Obama;
- Kathleen H. Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary for policy in the U.S. Defense Department;
- Moira Whelan, former deputy assistant secretary of state;
- Michael Fuchs, former deputy assistant secretary of state;
- Max Boot, former senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign (2007–2008), defense policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign (2011–2012), and head of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group for Marco Rubio’s campaign (2015-2016);
- Mike Breen, president and CEO, Truman National Security Project;
- Max Bergmann, former member of the U.S. State Department policy planning staff;
- James A. Thurber, distinguished professor of government;
- Richard M. Pious, Adolph and Effie Ochs professor emeritus, Barnard College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University;
- Robert E. Mutch, independent scholar and historian;
- Major General Paul Eaton, US Army (ret.).
The need for this letter is more urgent now than at any time in the past eight months, as the Mueller investigation digs in deeply on financial conflicts and works with the IRS. Trump has demonstrated an affinity for firing officials who displease him or may be involved in investigating him – among them, former FBI Director James Comey, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. The special counsel’s work is pivotal for democracy and must continue.
Bipartisan cooperation on the Hill, at a time when it is rare shows that the need to defend Mueller and the special counsel’s office is noncontroversial.
As the letter says: “Mueller and the special counsel’s office must be allowed to complete its work without any outside interference or abrupt presidential dismissals.”