Murkowski won’t block judges to get Mueller protection bill

By November 16, 2018 November 19th, 2018 Federal Government, Nation & World, Politics
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks to reporters in one of the Senate’s more ornate rooms. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks to reporters in one of the Senate’s more ornate rooms. (2017 file photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski supports a bill that would protect the Mueller investigation, but she said Friday she won’t join Sen. Jeff Flake in his pledge to hold up judicial confirmations to force a vote on the bill.

Murkowski has said for months that Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be free to continue his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“My sincere hope here is that the president recognizes that the special counsel should be allowed to proceed,” she said in an interview Friday. “And, again, the investigation be concluded when the investigation is concluded.”

President Donald Trump calls the investigation a “witch hunt.” After the midterm election this month, he secured the resignation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, a critic of the probe. Murkowski said that made it more clear to her that a bill to protect Mueller is a good idea.

“It may be that it is not needed. The president has not interfered with the investigation by the special counsel,” she said. “But I look at it and say, ‘what is the harm in passing this?’”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the bill up for a vote. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced on Wednesday how he’ll try to force the issue.

“I have informed the majority leader that I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee, or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting a confirmation vote on the floor, until S. 2644 is brought to the full Senate for a vote,” he said.

Senate Bill 2644 would prevent Mueller’s firing, unless it’s ordered by a Senate-confirmed Justice official with good cause, and Mueller would be able to challenge his dismissal in court.

Sen. Dan Sullivan said earlier this year he didn’t think such a bill was necessary.

If all Democrats vote against confirmation, Flake would need one other Republican to join him to make good on his threat to block judicial appointments. Murkowski is not on board.

“We’ve got our business to do,” she said. “And so I’m not one that throws a roadblock up and says, ‘Unless I get my way around here, nobody gets anything.’”

She said she hopes there are other ways to bring the special counsel bill to the floor for a vote when the Senate returns from its Thanksgiving break.

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