Jeff Flake is a lame duck Senator – but he’s still willing to be a thorn in President Donald Trump’s side before his seat is replaced by the Democrat who won his seat (and whom Flake says will “be great“). Trump has 21 judicial nominees and 32 judges awaiting Senate confirmation, and Flake announced he refuses to vote in favor of confirming any of them until “the Mueller protection bill is brought to the full Senate for a vote.”
I have informed the Majority Leader that I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee, or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting action on the floor, until the Mueller protection bill is brought to the full Senate for a vote.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 15, 2018
What is the Mueller protection bill?
Robert Mueller is close to wrapping up his special counsel investigation into so-called “Russian” collusion, and apparently, Flake is paranoid that Trump will intervene in the 11th hour to thwart Mueller’s investigation. Of course, if Trump really wanted to, he could’ve fired Mueller long ago. Likewise, if there was evidence of Russian collusion, that would’ve been discovered long ago. Even some liberals are preparing for an underwhelming report from Mueller’s special counsel. Politico published an article last month in which defense lawyers working on the Russia probe and more than 15 former government officials all agreed that “disappointment” is how they’d describe Mueller’s findings.
Susan Collins was the first to call for legislation that would protect Mueller following the “forced resignation” of Jeff Sessions. Her proposed legislation, supported by Flake, would put restrictions on Trump’s ability to fire Mueller. The bill seems pointless for two reasons, the first before the aforementioned one, that Trump would’ve already fired Mueller if he wanted to. Second, if such legislation was brought to a vote, Trump could simply fire Mueller before it passes.
Of course, the constitutionality of Congress telling the President he can’t fire Executive Branch employees is dubious at best.
Democrat Sen. Chris Coons has already attempted to force a vote on the legislation yesterday, unsuccessfully, which led to Flake’s threat.
Flake’s threat is very powerful
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Republicans hold 51 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 49 votes – a razor-thin margin that counts Flake as the 50+1 vote. Additionally, the 21-member Senate Judiciary Committee must approve before confirmations are brought to the full Senate, and Republicans only have a slim 11-10 majority. Flake abstaining would substantially complicate matters, and it’s certainly possible that he could vote against Trump’s nominees.
Flake also hasn’t said what he’ll do if he’s successful in forcing a vote on the Mueller Protection Act if it fails to pass. Will he then put his tail between his legs and vote to confirm Trump’s nominees?
I doubt it. Flake has been a never-Trumper from day one, and this is merely his parting revenge.
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