U.S. Senate committee to vote on bill to protect Mueller next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leader of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said on Thursday the committee would vote on a bill to protect Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, despite objections by the chamber’s Republican leadership.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman, said he was keeping his word to the bill’s backers that the panel would take up the measure if they reached a bipartisan compromise, which they had.

The committee will consider the legislation next week.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had told Fox News on Tuesday that he would not allow a vote on the measure in the full Senate.

“Obviously the views of the majority leader are important to consider, but they do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee,” Grassley said at a committee meeting.

The legislation was co-authored by Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Lindsey Graham and Democrats Chris Coons and Cory Booker. The bill would make it harder for President Donald Trump to fire Mueller, or for any president to fire any special counsel, by allowing Mueller to seek a judicial review if he were to be dismissed.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bernadette Baum