Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a bipartisan attempt to protect special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday when he voted against bring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) bill to the floor for debate.
> Flake’s move comes after Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and appointed Matt Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly criticized Mueller’s investigation, as acting attorney general. Trump had repeatedly railed against Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
After McConnell blocked the bill — which is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons — Flake announced he would begin voting to reject all judicial nominees, adding: “This is not a moment for our national leadership to be weak or irresolute.”
> Flake is the swing vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and, with Democrats, can vote down judicial nominations. McConnell could still bring these nominations forward to the Senate floor against the will of the committee, but Flake said he doubts this would happen because it would alienate GOP senators.
> The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Mueller protection bill months ago, but Mitch McConnell repeatedly refused to bring it forward for a vote. He argued the bill is unnecessary because there is no sign that Trump will fire Mueller. Flake argues that is no longer true.
> “The justification given in April for not bringing it to the floor for a vote was that nobody was being fired, nothing to see here, special counsel Mueller was not in any danger. That clearly is not the case now,” said Flake Tuesday.