Two senators unexpectedly issued a bipartisan statement Tuesday afternoon, urging Donald Trump to allow the special counsel probe to come to completion “without impediment.” Around the same time that Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina made their show of support for Mueller’s work, nine of ten Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee signed on to a letter seeking a public commitment from top Justice Department officials to protect Robert Mueller’s inquiry. Politico writes:
“We have heard from constituents — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — who agree that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be able to conduct his investigation without interference,” Tillis and Coons said in their joint statement. “This should not be a partisan issue.” […]
“We urge President Trump to allow the Special Counsel to complete his work without impediment, which is in the best interest of the American people, the President, and our nation,” they added. […]
The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), seeks “a written and public commitment” from the five officials “that you will not interfere in the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, possible collusion with such meddling by the Trump campaign, efforts to obstruct justice, and any related inquiry.”
The letter targeted DOJ officials besides Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein since he has already expressed his support for Mueller’s inquiry. The Democrats cited “significant concerns that the president or his White House could order individuals at the Justice Department […] to interfere with the probe or shut it down.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was the sole Democrat on the panel who didn’t sign on to the letter.
Sens. Coons and Tillis have cosponsored a bill designed to protect Mueller from unwarranted interference, but that legislative effort has stalled.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the dual efforts, but in their letter, Democrats cited concerns about the recent exit of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the decision by former Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand to resign as evidence that Trump is affecting departmental functions.