Con­way de­cries bi­par­ti­san bill to shield Mueller from be­ing fired.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

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 Ms. Con­way in­sisted that Pres­i­dent Trump “has not even dis­cussed” fir­ing spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

“Why are we en­gag­ing in hy­po­thet­i­cals?” asked Ms. Con­way.

“The en­tire Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion is a hy­po­thet­i­cal,” Ms. 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 three­judge 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.

Ms. 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,” Ms. 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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