Legislation seeks to protect Mueller from termination

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

Senators introduced two bipartisan bills Thursday aimed at protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Donald Trump as both parties signalled resistance to any White House effort to derail the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election. The move may suggest Mueller believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony.

After President Trump lashed out at Congress on Twitter, Kremlin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he agrees with the opinion that US-Russia relations at a dangerous low.

Jim Justice says he's switching parties to join the Republicans as President Donald Trump visited the increasingly conservative state.

"You don't impanel a grand jury unless your investigation has discovered enough evidence that you feel reflects a violation of at least one, if not more, criminal provisions", he said. The stakes have been raised. But Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sounded hesitant.

Mueller was appointed as special counsel following Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey.

On Thursday, Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, impaneled a grand jury in Washington, The Wall Street Journal first reported. Mueller, who was Comey's predecessor as FBI director, has assembled a team of prosecutors and lawyers with experience in financial fraud, national security and organized crime to investigate contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump has been critical of Mueller since his appointment, and the president's legal team is looking into potential conflicts surrounding the team Mueller has hired, including the backgrounds of members and political contributions by some members of his team to Hillary Clinton.

Trump hasn't publicly said he's considering firing Mueller, but the president's aides said the topic has come up.

Mueller has strong support on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also working on Graham's legislation, according to Booker's office. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has yet to signal support for either measure. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del., would let any special counsel for the Department of Justice challenge his or her removal in court. If the panel found there was no good cause for the removal, the counsel would be immediately reinstated.

In addition, only the attorney general or the most senior Justice Department official in charge of the matter could fire the special counsel.

The new sanctions target Russia's energy and mining sectors as well as Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is supposed to bring Russian gas to Germany and make Germany an important energy trading hub in the European Union.

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