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Special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian agents are feeling the heat. Over the past week, President Trump has attacked the investigation directly, attacking its legitimacy and integrity. In one tweet, President Trump wrote, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big ‘Crooked Hillary’ supporters, and zero Republicans?” For clarity, Mueller himself is a Republican. This attack comes in the wake of his personal lawyer’s comments about the investigation, and his hope that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would “bring an end” to it.
There is a concerning series of events that has been unfolding over the past week. Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially fired Andrew McCabe, the Deputy Director of the FBI. This is the second ouster from within the FBI ranks in the Trump tenure, with the first being former Director James Comey. These firings have concerned many analysts, as the prospect of a highly partisan law enforcement agency is incompatible in the world of objective, constitutional law enforcement, of which the FBI is the standard-bearer.
Over the weekend, there have been repeated attacks on the investigation from the Trump administration. President Trump has repeatedly called it baseless, going as far to call it a witch hunt on Twitter.
“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a ‘Fake Dossier’ paid for by ‘Crooked Hillary’ and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch Hunt!” It is clear that the investigation presents a persistent headache for the president and his administration, with this week being the most blatant attack in its existence.
If the president were to end the investigation, he would face bipartisan criticism. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been an intermittent friend of the president, while not forgoing the possibility of intra-party criticism. If President Trump tried to end the Russia investigation, Sen. Graham believes that it “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation.” A spokeswoman for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also gave a comment in support of the investigation, relaying the Speaker’s desire for “Mr. Mueller and his team [to] be able to do their job.” Democratic sentiment is similar, yet more strident. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Minority Leader of the Senate, has compared President Trump’s attacks to “floating trial balloons about derailing” Mueller’s investigation.
Beyond rhetoric, there have been a pair of bipartisan legislative efforts in the Senate to protect the investigation from executive reprisal; one is the “Special Counsel Integrity Act” and the other is the “Special Counsel Independence Protection Act.” Neither of the bills passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, though there is agreement that ending the investigation would be a mistake.