The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation Thursday that would protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from being fired by President Trump after the panel’s Republican chairman backed off changes that threatened bipartisan support for the bill.
A draft released by Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday night omitted language that would require the special counsel to notify congressional leaders “if there is any change made to the specific nature or scope” of the investigation. Democrats had feared that would allow Republicans to meddle and potentially tip off Trump and his allies to developments in the probe.
With that change, all of the Democrats on the committee joined Grassley and several other Republicans to advance the bill on a 14-to-7 vote.
This is nice, but Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring the bill to the floor.
* Karoun Demirjian and Carol Morello report that Mike Pompeo will now be insulting the world’s people on America’s behalf:
The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as secretary of state Thursday despite lingering objections from Democrats who have questioned his record of hawkish policy positions and past controversial statements about minority groups.
The split vote — 57 to 42 — reflects the political scrutiny Pompeo is likely to encounter as he moves from the CIA to the State Department, where he will face the simultaneous challenges of reinvigorating an agency beset by flagging morale and answering for a president who is prone to impulsiveness on the global stage.
Only six of the 14 Democrats who backed Pompeo to be CIA director last year voted for him to become the nation’s top diplomat. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who joined the Senate earlier this year, also supported his confirmation.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of those who changed his vote on Pompeo since last year, said that he was “disappointed” Pompeo had not tried “to repudiate some of the extreme views he expressed during his time in Congress” — such as criticism of American Muslims and opposition to same-sex marriage.
That’s because he actually believes them.
* Lindsay Wise, Jonathan Shorman, and Katherine Burgess report that Pompeo still has $1 million in a campaign account, and everyone back in Kansas assumes he’ll be running for something else eventually.
* Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report that Scott Pruitt spent his day of testimony blaming aides for everything he has done wrong since taking office.
* A new Quinnipiac poll finds that majorities say Trump shouldn’t fire Robert Mueller, say Mueller is running a fair investigation, and believe James Comey and the media over Trump. #FakePolls
* Josh Gerstein reports that prosecutors are jumping on Trump’s claim that Michael Cohen has done little work for him to argue that the materials they seized aren’t protected by attorney-client privilege. Well done, Donald!
* Thousands of teachers walked out in Arizona and Colorado today, the latest in what the Times calls a “surge” of teacher protests that are “spreading quickly” from state to state.
* Lee Fang has secretly recorded tape of Rep. Steny Hoyer trying to convince a House candidate to drop out of a primary because the DCCC decided that a different candidate was better, for no reason Hoyer can seem to articulate.
* Josh Chafetz and David Pozen offer a deeply argued paper explaining how constitutional norms erode. Timely!
* And Melanie Zanona and Mike Lillis report that Paul Ryan pushed out the House Chaplain, possibly because in a prayer he asked that the tax bill not be too cruel.