- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2017

A bipartisan bill to protect the Russia investigation special counsel from being fired met with a cool reception Sunday from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, defended the bill as a way of ensuring the special counsel’s independence, while Mrs. Conway insisted that President Trump “has not even discussed” firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Why are we engaging in hypotheticals?” Mrs. Conway.

The entire Russia investigation is a hypothetical,” Mrs. Conway said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The president has called it a fiction, a total fabrication to excuse the colossal and unexpected, unwanted defeat of Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. People just can’t get over that election, George. It’s corrosive to our body politic.”

Mr. Tillis and Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, introduced last week legislation to allow a three-judge panel to determine whether there is “good cause” to fire a special counsel amid speculation that the White House may try to jettison Mr. Mueller.

Mrs. Conway said the White House is “complying and cooperating with” the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including the Trump campaign.

“The president has not even discussed that. The president is not discussing firing Bob Mueller,” Mrs. Conway said.

Mr. Tillis said the bill is needed to “improve the reputation of independence for the Justice Department” by taking “any sort of precipitous removal” off the table while insisting that “we don’t have any specific evidence to suggest that the president is going to do that.”

“One thing I would like to put there, though, [is] I don’t want this to become a narrative to where we think that the president is headed in that direction,” Mr. Tillis said. “Kellyanne Conway said that she hasn’t had discussions with the president on this matter.”

He noted that the bill, if passed, would continue “beyond this administration, incidentally, and it’s important policy I think going forward.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly has blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt,” but Mr. Tillis disagreed.

“I’m not sure that I agree with the witch hunt, and we’ll let the facts lead us to whether or not it was a hoax or a distraction,” Mr. Tillis said. “But we are where we are, and I want to see this investigation concluded so that we can get on to doing the good work the president has already started with regulatory reform, health care and tax reform.”

“This is a distraction I would like to get passed so that I can do as I have: Go back to supporting the president’s agenda,” the senator added.

Mr. Mueller was appointed in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.


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