Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly rejected the need to approve legislation protecting the special counsel’s probe into the 2016 election, saying Wednesday there’s no evidence the investigation needs protection.
Mr. McConnell laid out Republicans’ goals for the lame-duck session of Congress, saying preventing a government shutdown is tops on the list, along with passing new rules to stop sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and approving a farm bill.
He flatly ruled out the chance of a partial government shutdown over border wall money and other spending fights.
And he dismissed the need for Congress to act on legislation Democrats and some Republicans want to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I don’t think any legislation’s necessary,” Mr. McConnell said.
He said he speaks regularly with President Trump and while the president has made his distaste for the investigation clear, he’s never given an “indication” that he would attempt to shut down the probe.
Mr. McConnell said for his part he believes the investigation should be allowed to finish.
Democrats said they’re intent on getting Mueller protections approved during this lame-duck session of Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that those provisions, if they don’t pass as a stand-alone bill, need to be part of the year-end spending bill.
And Mr. Schumer drew lines over other parts of the spending bill, saying it should not go above the current $1.6 billion senators have included for new border security such as a wall.
Mr. Trump has demanded it include at least $5 billion in funding for his border wall. The House has passed a bill with that number, putting it on a crash course with senators.
Mr. Schumer said Congress should compromise by agreeing on the Senate’s number, and he told Mr. Trump to butt out of any negotiations.
“Every time he interferes, it gets bolluxed up,” the New York Democrat said.
Mr. Schumer also took a victory lap on last week’s election results, which saw his caucus likely lose one or two seats. The senator said that was still a victory for Democrats because it could have been much worse for them.
And he said voters sent a signal of support for Democrats’ policy ideas, which he said they’ll pursue even while in the minority in the Senate.