Cory Booker says he doesn't understand opposition to bill protecting Mueller

WASHINGTON — During an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Tuesday, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he was hoping for a floor vote on a bill he co-sponsored to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

“Do I want see it voted on? Heck, yeah,” Booker said.

The legislation, which was initially sponsored by a bipartisan group including Booker, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. Since then, the bill has not made it to the Senate floor, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he doesn’t think Mueller needs special protection.

Democrats have expressed concerns about President Trump’s repeated claims that the Mueller probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race is a “witch hunt.” While the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Kremlin intervened in order to help Trump, the president has been skeptical and has strenuously denied that his campaign cooperated with the Russian effort. Concerns about potential threats to Mueller were amplified last Wednesday when Trump got rid of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matt Whitaker, a loyalist who has critiqued Mueller’s investigation.

Booker described the Mueller protection legislation as an effort to “hold the president accountable” and a “significant check on presidential power.” He also emphasized its bipartisan backing.

“It’s an important check and balance to presidential power, very thoughtful, very moderate bill. And I think it’s very important,” Booker said, adding: “We’ve seen signs of its importance … when you have a president openly attacking not just the special prosecutor but agents doing investigation — law enforcement.”

Booker accused Trump of engaging in an “all-out attack to undermine the legitimacy of an investigation about an attack on our country.”

Last week, Coons and Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told Politico they plan to push for a floor vote on the bill. Booker used two words to describe the importance of Flake backing the effort.

“Thank God,” he said.

On Tuesday evening, hours after Booker’s interview with Yahoo, NPR reporter Tim Mak said he “just spoke” to Flake, who indicated he planned to bring the legislation up for a floor vote on Wednesday.

Despite the bill’s bipartisan backing, it is expected to draw opposition from some Republicans. Booker said he did not understand any objections to the legislation, which he described as “a very moderate bill.”

“It’s just saying, if the president moves on the special counsel, there should be some kind of independent oversight to that action to make sure it was done for cause and not a political agenda,” Booker said. “We need to make sure it’s clear that the president has certain authorities, but he’s not above the law.”

“No American wants a president that is regal,” Booker continued. “You know, you don’t want a king. You want a president that is subject to the rule of law.”

Booker appeared at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit to discuss his proposal to reduce income inequality by providing “baby bonds” to all American children. Watch the full interview.


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