It has recently been reported that Donald Trump spoke to his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who was illegally appointed in a manner that violated the U.S. Constitution, about better controlling federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, because these prosecutors had filed charges against Michael Cohen. These charges included information about how Michael Cohen had broken the law at the direction of Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President’s actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions.
Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign — something Trump fiercely maintains isn’t an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn’t being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.
The previously unreported discussions between Trump and Whitaker described by multiple sources familiar with the matter underscore the extent to which the President firmly believes the attorney general of the United States should serve as his personal protector. The episodes also offer a glimpse into the unsettling dynamic of a sitting president talking to his attorney general about investigations he’s potentially implicated in.
Needless to say, the President of the United States should not be pressuring the acting Attorney General to “control prosecutors” who are investigating the President. This sure looks like another attempt by Donald Trump to obstruct justice.
Yet, for some reason, Republicans in the Senate are still refusing to protect the Mueller investigation from Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Wednesday blocked a floor vote on a bipartisan bill to safeguard special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation from President Donald Trump.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had attempted to force a vote on the legislation on Wednesday afternoon, but Lee objected, stopping the vote from proceeding.
“We cannot convert an office like this one, an office like the previously-existing Office of Independent Counsel, without creating a de facto fourth branch of government, fundamentally undermining the principle of separation of powers that is so core to our liberty,” Lee said. “On that basis … I object.”
The move, which prevented a Senate vote on the bill, blocked the legislation for the second time in a month.
This has been a consistent pattern: the Mueller investigation appears to be under attack by Trump, Mitch McConnell and his allies in the Senate refuse to do anything about it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday suggested he would not allow a floor vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign.
“It’s not necessary. The Mueller investigation is not under threat,” McConnell told reporters.
On November 3, 2017, three Republican allies of Trump in Congress called upon Robert Mueller to resign, and Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly indicated tacit support for their reasoning:
Representatives Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs and Louis Gohmert accused Mueller of a conflict of interest because he was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when former President Barack Obama’s administration approved an agreement allowing a Russian company to buy a Canadian company that owned 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans have been calling for an investigation into the Uranium One deal, amid news of Mueller’s first indictments of Trump associates as the special counsel investigates allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
The very next day, Mitch McConnell refused to support voting on a bill to protect the Mueller investigation:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that special counsel Robert Mueller is not in need of congressional protection from President Donald Trump.
“I don’t hear much pressure to pass anything,” McConnell told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt. “There’s been no indication that the President or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel.”
Two months later, on January 25, 2018, a report came out that Donald Trump had ordered the White House Counsel Don McGahn (since fired by Trump for cooperating with Robert Mueller) to fire Robert Mueller:
The reports, first by the Times and then others, said Trump backed off on his attempt to fire the man who is investigating him, his election campaign’s Russian contacts and his firings of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — but only after lawyer McGahn refused to relay his directive to the Justice Department and threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue.
Five days later, after renewed calls from Democrats for Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the bill to protect the Mueller investigation, Mitch McConnell again refused:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday dismissed Democratic calls to take up bipartisan legislation aimed at shielding Robert Mueller from being fired, saying that the special counsel “seems to need no protection.”
McConnell told reporters that he sees no imminent threat to Mueller’s job from President Donald Trump, who has publicly aired frustration with the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump campaign allies. Senators have pitched two bipartisan bills designed to prevent Mueller’s firing by Trump, but efforts to combine them have stalled as the GOP professes a continued lack of urgency.
At the moment, McConnell told reporters, “I’m unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel. And so I don’t feel any particular need to reach out to protect someone who seems to need no protection.”
On April 10, 2018, news came out that Trump had again tried to fire Robert Mueller the preceding December:
Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller after he became enraged over reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records on Trump’s finances.
A week later, Mitch McConnell again refused to bring the bill to protect the Mueller investigation up for a vote, even after two Republican Senators had signed onto the bill:
Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official.
McConnell said he won’t bring the legislation to the Senate floor.
“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate,” he said.
Republicans in the Senate need to start putting their country and its laws first, instead of allowing Donald Trump to continue to break the law just because Donald Trump is a Republican.