Senate Democrats are preparing to flex the power of the purse to protect Mueller
Senate Democrats are threatening to withhold their votes on a government funding bill unless protections for the special counsel investigation are passed, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he's "not going to rule out any option" with the spending bill if the special counsel provision isn't included. "I feel very strongly about protecting Bob Mueller," he told the WSJ. "I think that I will look at any and all vehicles in order to do that. That goes to the question as to whether the president is above the law." Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to pass the spending bill, which needs to be completed by December 8 to avert a partial government shutdown. A Senate Democratic aide told the WSJ that the shutdown threat "will depend in part on whether Mr. Trump continues or escalates his attacks on Mr. Mueller's investigation."
They also want Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller's probe. They've taken a few actions on that front already, asking for a Justice Department inspector general investigation to review his communications with Donald Trump and White House staff as well as asking a federal judge to bar him from the office, since he's not been confirmed by the Senate.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already blocked one of his own team, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), from bringing the stand-alone bill to the floor. He continues to insist that the legislation is unnecessary, giving Trump free rein to do his worst. Flake is withholding his votes on Trump judicial nominees, setting up a potential confrontation with McConnell this week. McConnell has scheduled floor votes on two of Trump's most controversial, least qualified nominees for this week.
Flake isn't saying what he'd do when it comes to the funding bill, but is committed to his nominee stand. "We have a president that has fired the attorney general and installed someone that has not been confirmed by the Senate, who has taken away oversight for the Mueller investigation from the person to whom it properly belonged," Flake told the WSJ "I cant understand how we in the Senate can be sanguine over these developments."