Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear Tuesday that he is going to protect Donald Trump to the greatest extent possible, saying of legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that “we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.” He’s going to have to take that up with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who is intent on moving the bill forward.
Grassley told the committee that McConnell’s views “do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee.” He said that if a bill’s prospect in the full Senate always governed the committee’s actions, “we wouldn’t be probably moving any bills out of this committee.”
He also complained about media coverage of his plan to move forward with the bill.
“The press is always trying to put us between me and the President or me and the majority leader. I don’t care to be put in the middle of anything,” he said. “I just plan on doing the work that this committee ought to do.”
Whether he likes it to be portrayed as a conflict or not, he is at odds with McConnell. And given what a stubborn old coot he is, there’s a chance he could prevail. While Republicans on the committee—like North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who is a sponsor of the legislation—still keep saying that they don’t think Trump would fire Mueller, that’s not stopping them. “I for one don’t think the President is going to fire the special counsel,” Tillis said in today’s hearing. “I trust this President on this issue. What I don’t trust is future presidents who I don’t know yet.” As of now, the bill is still scheduled for markup next week.