People are getting worried (or excited, depending on their perspective) that President Donald Trump may fire special counsel Robert Mueller in the midst of his investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
So, several congressmen from both sides of the aisle have introduced new legislation that would make it harder for Mueller to be fired, and would grant him more protections even if he is fired, according to The Hill.
The bill is actually a combination of two separate, similar bills that were introduced in August.
What does the bill say?
The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The bill would:
- Grant the special counsel an "expedited judicial review" within 10 days of his firing to determine if the cause was valid or if he should be reinstated
- Dictate that only a senior Justice Department official can fire a special counsel, and only after reasoning has been provided in writing
- Ensure the preservation of all documents, materials and staff working on the investigation
The bill's authors said it is meant to protect both the current and future special counsels from interference.
Is this necessary?
There are differing opinions on whether this type of legislation, which is essentially intended to prevent Trump from firing Mueller, is even necessary.
It's not explicitly clear whether the president has the authority to fire a special counsel, although the White House has said Trump believes he has that power.
Justice Department regulations say that Mueller can only be fired by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself) "for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of departmental policies."
However, there is a constitutional argument to be made that the president is the chief executive and therefore can fire any employee of the executive branch.
Will Trump fire Mueller?
Trump has repeatedly voiced his displeasure with Mueller's investigation, but despite not ruling it out, the president has not indicated that he plans to fire Mueller.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he had not "seen clear indication yet" that legislation was needed to protect Mueller because he doesn't believe Trump will fire him, according to NBC News.