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Jeff Flake forces Republicans to cancel confirmation of judges over Mueller

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) forced the cancellation of a committee meeting over confirmation of judges because he wants Republicans to vote on a bill that protects the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has forced Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to cancel a meeting in the process of confirming dozens of judges.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced the meeting scheduled for Thursday was cancelled and listed the nominees that would be up for confirmation.

Flake can block all judicial nominees from being sent for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor because he is the key vote in the Judiciary Committee, which has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Flake has said that he would refuse to vote for the appointments so long as his bill protecting the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller was blocked by Republicans.

On Wednesday, the bill was defeated by Republicans.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked the bill protecting Mueller by arguing that doing so would undermine separation of powers between the three branches of government.

"Prosecutorial authority of the United States belongs in the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice answers to the President of the United States. Its principle officers consist of people appointed by the president, serving at the pleasure of the president, after being confirmed by the United States Senate."

"This is a fundamental component of our liberty," Lee argued.

In an interview on CNN Wednesday, Flake said that he didn't understand why Republicans wouldn't vote for the bill unless there was a threat of Trump interfering with the investigation.

"The president needs to know that the Senate will not stand for him firing Mueller," said Flake. "And the message he's getting right now is that the Senate and the leadership will protect him."

Here's Flake discussing his bill on CNN Wednesday:

"I think that that's the wrong message to send," he concluded.

One last thing…
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