(Bloomberg) -- Senator Orrin Hatch warned that President Donald Trump could be impeached if he fires Robert Mueller but said he would oppose a bill aimed at protecting the special counsel because he believes it would violate the Constitution.
Hatch’s opposition deals another blow to bipartisan efforts to pass legislation requiring judicial review before Mueller could be fired. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has previously vowed not to let it to get a vote on the Senate floor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday to advance the bipartisan bill out of committee, and Chairman Chuck Grassley said in an interview that he intends to support it if his amendment requiring transparency in special counsel investigations is adopted.
Hatch, a former chairman of the committee and the most senior Senate Republican, said he would instead back a nonbinding sense of the Senate resolution urging the president not to fire Mueller, who’s leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I believe it is in President Trump’s best interest to allow the investigation to run its course, because I believe it will vindicate him,” Hatch wrote in an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal. “Firing Mr. Mueller would be a grave error. It would trigger a crisis, possibly even impeachment. It would threaten many of the administration’s accomplishments and make continued progress virtually impossible.”
Hatch noted he previously supported independent prosecutors but now believes that was a mistake and violates the separation of powers.
“You cannot protect the rule of law by violating the supreme law of the land,” he said.
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