Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked legislation from GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.
Flake asked for consent to bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.
“I object,” McConnell said, blocking his request to quickly pass the bill by unanimous consent.
Earlier in the day, McConnell said the bill is unnecessary.
“As you can imagine, I talk to the president fairly often,” McConnell told reporters. “He’s given no indication the Mueller investigation will not be allowed to finish.”
“We know how the president feels about the Mueller investigation, but he’s never said he wants to shut it down,” he added.
Flake, speaking after McConnell’s objection, ripped Trump’s rhetoric on the Mueller probe.
“With the firing of the attorney general … the president now has this investigation in his sights and we all know it,” Flake said from the Senate floor, adding that the president has accused Mueller of a witch hunt “without basis or fact.”
“How such an investigation can be the cause of controversy is beyond me. …[And] presidents do not get to determine what gets investigated and what and who does not,” Flake said.
“I have informed the majority leader I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until … [the bill] is brought to the full Senate for a vote,” Flake said from the Senate floor.
Flake and several other senators are worried that Trump’s decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a sign that he might soon try to move against Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump’s new acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, has previously stated that he’s opposed to the Mueller investigation and has called it a “witch hunt.”