Nov 14, 2018

Bipartisan effort to protect Mueller investigation blocked by McConnell

Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

A bipartisan effort by Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) to force a floor vote on a bill shielding Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired failed on Wednesday after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the measure.

Why it matters: The fate of Mueller's Russia investigation has been under speculation following last week’s abrupt resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at the request of President Trump, and the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has publicly criticized the scope of the probe.

The details: The bipartisan measure had cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, but it hasn’t reached floor for a vote amid skepticism from some Republicans.

  • Flake and Coons were seeking unanimous consent on the measure to circumvent McConnell, who opposed scheduling it for a vote.
  • McConnell said earlier on Wednesday he believes the president will not fire Mueller, despite Trump's public opposition to the probe.

In an effort to get McConnell to support the legislation, Flake said that he will no longer confirm any of Trump's judicial nominees unless the Senate approves the Mueller bill.

  • Flake is a member of the Judiciary Committee, where Republicans have 11 members and Democrats have 10. His objection would make it harder for the committee and the full Senate to confirm judges for the remainder of the year.

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Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.