A bipartisan bill that would require President Donald Trump to give a fired special counsel a chance to challenge the dismissal in court is making its way through a Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill, crafted in part by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis and Democratic colleagues Chris Coons and Cory Booker, seeks to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump. However, published reports suggests that limiting the president’s firing powers is unconstitutional.
“It’s appropriate for members of the Judiciary Committee to discuss constitutional issues with potential legislation,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “But it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that we are senators, not judges or presidents, though some in this room might like to be one day.”
However, others still said they were determined to push ahead.
“I’m not a constitutional scholar, I’m not an attorney. That’s what we have a court system for,” said Tillis, of North Carolina. “Shame on everybody who wants to make a point, not make a difference.”
As the Mueller probe continues and the potentially new legal problems the president faces with his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen under investigation, a growing number of reports have suggested an increasingly agitated Trump desperate to find the right combination of lawyers.
A month after his personal legal team imploded over whether Trump should consent to be interviewed for Mueller’s Russia investigation, the president is finally rebuilding his defense.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the most high-profile addition to the president’s legal team, but two other lawyers joined as well, according to Vox, which documented each of Trump’s new hires.
And unlike many of the attorneys working with Trump, they have substantial — and recent — criminal courtroom experience, according to Vox.
Jane and Martin Raskin, a wife-and-husband criminal defense duo based in Florida, will be working on Trump’s personal legal team. The two have long histories working for the Justice Department and as white-collar criminal defense lawyers.
The first big question they’ll have to grapple with is whether the president should agree to a Mueller interview, Vox reported.
John Dowd, Trump’s top personal lawyer, quit in March after repeatedly telling the president that he shouldn’t talk to Mueller as part of the ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
That left Jay Sekulow — a lawyer and radio host best known for defending conservative and evangelical Christian causes — as the only lawyer on Trump’s personal team. Trump has White House lawyers, but their job is to protect the institution of the presidency, not Trump himself, against potential criminal accusations.
Trump’s attempts to hire new personal lawyers haven’t gone smoothly, Vox reported. After Dowd left, several well-known Washington criminal defense attorneys turned Trump down. And in a bizarre week, Sekulow announced that Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing would join the legal team, only to say days later that they wouldn’t.
Sol Wisenberg, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer who worked on the Ken Starr investigation, told Vox that a lot of D.C. law firms are scared of working with Trump.
But Giuliani hasn’t been taking on legal clients in recent years. And the Raskins might have an easier time avoiding some of the conflicts that would prevent a lawyer from taking on Trump, partially because they have their own small practice.
“If you’ve got a small firm and you’re primarily handling criminal defense matters, you really don’t have to worry about [angering] clients,” Wisenberg told Vox.
Trump is still toying with the idea of sitting down for an interview with Mueller. Despite reports that the recent raid on Trump confidant and longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office demolished negotiations for an interview, one of Trump’s White House lawyers, Ty Cobb, said the president still wants to do it. Despite their decadeslong relationship, Cohen has not joined Trump’s personal defense team.
“The support from the GOP has began to crack,” political watcher and columnist Juan Williams said.