Lawmakers are working on a "Plan B" to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative work after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring legislation for a floor vote on a bill that would have protected his job, Sen. Richard Blumenthal has confirmed.
The discussions involve lawmakers from both parties, the Connecticut Democrat told NBC News, the network reported Friday, and involve "assuring the evidence is preserved and reports are done if the special counsel is fired or other political interference is undertaken by the president."
Blumenthal, who helped draft the original bipartisan bill to protect Mueller's job, added that there is also "strong interest on the Republican side in avoiding a constitutional crisis."
The senator said he's also drafting a bill to protect Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but did not elaborate.
The initial bill to protect Mueller made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee before McConnell, R-Kentucky, refused to advance it, and some committee members believe the new effort will be more difficult for the majority leader to reject, NBC reports.
The new measure would focus on transparency, not presidential actions, and could apply to information gathered by all future special counsel investigations.
Democrats in the House are also debating action to protect Mueller, as the Republican majority has refused to consider such legislation.
"We have to do everything we can to make it politically unsustainable for the president to destroy the investigation and accountability and the rule of law," Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, the top member of his party on the House Judiciary Committee, said last week.
House Democrats already have introduced multiple bills to protect Mueller and preserve the evidence of misconduct he may have uncovered.
"We have to prepare for a direct decapitation attempt, and also for a straitjacket strategy," said Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Judiciary Committee. “One thing we’re hoping that the Republicans will agree to is that we must preserve all evidence and all work products in the event of a firing.”
According to people briefed on the discussions, the ideas in the Senate require that Congress gets Mueller's final report, or to allow him to release his findings publicly if he is fired.
The discussions center around a provision that Sens. LIndsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Chris Coons, D-Delaware; and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, included in the initial bill.
McConnell said earlier this week, during a Fox News Radio interview, that legislation is not necessary, as Trump will not fire Mueller. Even if Trump "foolishly" did take action, McConnell continued, he still wouldn't allow the bill because it would be unconstitutional and would not pass the House or be signed by the president.
Blumenthal, though, called McConnells' argument a "red herring."
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