Statement During Judiciary Hearing on "Special Counsels and the Separation of Powers"

Today Special Counsel Robert Mueller is in the midst of a critical national security investigation: determining the extent to which the Russian government attacked our democracy by interfering with our elections in an effort to elect President Trump, and determining whether any members of the President’s campaign assisted in that effort.  Alarmingly, President Trump has issued thinly-veiled threats aimed at the Special Counsel, and has drawn artificial red-lines around the investigation.  The President has reportedly even considered terminating the Special Counsel outright.  If true, we may be careening toward a constitutional crisis unlike any the nation has experienced since the days of President Nixon.

The independence of law enforcement investigations is sacrosanct, reflecting the hallmark principle that the pursuit of justice in our country must not be tainted by politics.  Never is that more critical than when that pursuit of justice potentially reaches the highest levels of our government. 

The questions raised by today’s hearing are no less significant than those confronted by Archibald Cox during the Saturday Night Massacre:  Is ours a government of laws or a government of men?  The fact that we are even having this hearing—and considering two bipartisan bills intended to protect the independence of this investigation—speaks to our shared concern that the President will not allow the Special Counsel to simply follow the facts.

I am heartened to see that Senators on both sides of the aisle have spoken forcefully against the President’s attacks on the Special Counsel, and have worked together on legislation to further protect his independence.  I hope that Congress is prepared to serve as the check and balance our Founders envisioned.  And I look forward to hearing more about these issues from today’s witnesses.  

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