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Wednesday 18 July 2018

US senate committee backs measures to keep Robert Mueller in post

The special counsel’s probe into alleged Russia links has angered Donald Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the Russia investigation (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the Russia investigation (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Mary Clare Jalonick and Chad Day

The US senate judiciary committee has passed a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job as he investigates alleged Russian interference.

US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not let the bill onto the Senate floor, could yet thwart the plan.

The vote was 14 votes to seven with four Republicans in favour.

Republicans have split as President Donald Trump repeatedly criticised Mr Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The measure would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek an expedited judicial review of his or her firing.

It also would put into law existing US Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can be fired only for good cause.

Many Republicans argue that it is unconstitutional or unnecessary.

Republicans and Democrats on the panel have said Mr Trump should not try to remove Mr Mueller.

Mr Trump appeared to suggest he has no intention of trying to fire Mr Mueller, for now.

But he left open the possibility he could change his mind.

“I am very disappointed in my Justice Department,” he said.

“But because of the fact that it’s going on, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved.”

Mr Trump, during a telephone interview with Fox & Friends added: ”I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Press Association

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