Credo Action

Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain: Trump investigation must be truly independent

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Petition to Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain:

"Protect the rule of law by ensuring the independence of current investigations into Trump’s Russia ties. Protect special prosecutor Mueller from Trump’s abuse of power."

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    Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain: Trump investigation must be truly independent

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Donald Trump’s Russia ties has yielded its first indictments – which may put the investigation under threat. News recently broke that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, another former Trump staffer are under indictment. On top of the indictments, Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communication with Russians.1

    The threat to Mueller’s independence – and a constitutional crisis – is now very real. Trump has openly mused about firing Mueller in public interviews. His team has been digging up dirt on the special prosecutor. In the days before the indictments became public, Trump allies tried to deflect blame, pushed for phony investigations of Sec. Clinton to distract Americans, and advocated to strip Mueller of his powers.2,3

    What happens next is a huge test for the so-called moderate Republicans of conscience who have recently spoken out against Trump’s reckless abuse of power – they must now put words into action to protect the integrity of existing investigations into all of Trump and his associates’ illegal ties to Russia. Sens. John McCain, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have made headlines and earned plaudits from the elite political and media establishment for saying that Trump is a threat to our democracy, but they have done precious little to back those words up with action.

    Tell Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain: The investigation into Trump’s Russia ties must be truly independent. Protect special counsel Mueller from Trump’s abuse of power.

    These Republicans must immediately use all their institutional and public leverage to ensure all current investigations concerning Trump’s Russia ties continue without interference from the Trump regime and its allies in Congress. They must help pass legislation to protect an independent counsel and prevent Donald Trump from triggering a constitutional crisis.

    Mueller’s methodical investigation is critical and it is still in its beginning stages. We still do not know if more indictments are to come or what Papadopoulos, Manafort, or Gates will share about other Trump associates in order to spare themselves time behind bars.

    Not long ago, a post-Watergate law was in place that protected investigations like Mueller’s from presidential overreach. The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 set up a system to ensure that special prosecutors would be totally independent officials that a group of judges could appoint and no president can fire. But in the 1990s, Republicans and Democrats teamed up to let the independent counsel statute expire.4

    Mueller, instead, is a special prosecutor serving at the whim of Trump’s own Department of Justice.5 That means that Trump could order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, sparking a constitutional firestorm with the executive branch seeking to crush the rule of law to protect its grip on power.

    Congress can prevent this nightmare scenario. If Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain want to back up their strong talk with real action, they need to show that they are willing to force the White House to obey the law by protecting Mueller’s investigation and keeping it independent of Trump overreach.

    Tell Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain: The investigation into Trump’s Russia ties must be truly independent. Protect special counsel Mueller from Trump’s abuse of power.

    Mueller’s thorough investigation into Trump’s Russia ties has already uncovered far more than Trump would like, and as the White House has already been doing everything it can to discredit Mueller, it seems like it is only a matter of time before he lashes out to undermine the investigation by pardoning his former campaign staff, firing Mueller – or both. Unlike in the summer when Trump first contemplated firing Mueller, there are now key Senate Republicans who have spoken out and must now draw a line in the sand to protect our democracy.

    With an illegitimate autocrat occupying the White House, our system of laws needs the strongest possible defense – no White House is above the law. Congress must step up now to make sure we have a truly independent investigation of Trump.

    Tell Sens. Corker, Flake and McCain: Trump investigation must be truly independent.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind Helderman, Carol Leonnig and Spencer Hsu, “Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel,” The Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2017.
    2. Nicholas Fandos, “Courting Democrats Ire, Republicans Open New Obama-Era Inquiries,” The New York Times, Oct. 24, 2017.
    3. Sonam Sheth, “Mueller's latest move has Trump's staunchest allies melting down on Twitter,” Business Insider, Oct. 28, 2017.
    4. Phil Helsel, “‘Special Counsel’ Less Independent Than Under Expired Watergate-Era Law,” May 17, 2017.
    5. Erwin Chemerinsky and Eric Freedman, “Naming Robert Mueller as special counsel isn't enough – because Trump can get rid of him,” Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2017.