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US Democrats seek to protect Robert Mueller from being fired

Robert Mueller

Washington, Jan 27 (UITV/IANS) - US Senate Democrats have demanded that lawmakers act to protect special counsel Robert Mueller after revelations that President Donald Trump sought to oust him last year from overseeing the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Several Democrats and one Republican on Friday called for votes on Senate legislation that would prevent presidents from firing special counsels unless a panel of three judges agreed with the move, citing the revelations that Trump came close to pushing out Mueller last June, the Washington Post reported.

The President backed off only after White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn threatened to quit, according to two people familiar with the episode.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, said the report detailing an effort by Trump to fire Mueller in June demonstrated the urgency for Congress to act.

"The most important thing Congress can do right now is to ensure that Special Counsel Mueller's investigation continues uninterrupted and unimpeded," Schumer said.

"No one -- whether it be administration officials, Republicans or the President himself -- should get in the way and undermine the investigation."

Democratic Senator Mark Warner said that Congress should now pass the legislation to protect the special counsel, urging his Republican and Democratic colleagues to work out any differences in approach to make it happen.

Even as some Republicans have tried to discredit the Russia inquiry, a few senior members of the party said that they would not support the firing of Mueller.

A spokesman for Speaker Paul Ryan said that Ryan's position had not changed since he said in June that Mueller should be left alone to do his job.

And a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that Cornyn still believed that it would be a "mistake" to fire the special counsel.

Trump denied on Friday that he had ordered the firing and called reports of the episode "fake news".

His comments came during a trip to Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum, a gathering of world leaders and global business executives.